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Windows 7 tips and tweaks

Use modifier keys to change mouse actions when clicking

When you left click the mouse on a file, folder, shortcut, taskbar, the desktop and so on, a certain action will be performed or a menu will be displayed. When you right click the mouse you get an alternative action or menu. That's straightforward enough, but did you know that you can change the actions or menus by holding down a modifier key as you click. Hold down Shift, Ctrl or Alt as you left or right click something and you will often get a different action or an extended menu. It's a quick way to access certain features and functions, so let's take a look at some examples.

Right click the mouse on the desktop or in an Explorer window and remember the menus. Now hold down the Shift key as you right click and compare the menu. Notice anything different? There's one extra menu item and it's Open command window here.

Right click a folder in an Explorer window or on the desktop and then hold down Shift as you right click. This time you get several new menus - Open in new process, Open command window here, and Copy as path.

Right click a program and you can run it as an administrator, but hold down Shift as you right click and there's an option to run it as another user. Also there's an option to pin it to the Start menu. The Send to menu is about three times as big when you hold down Shift.

Right click context menu

Left click the Explorer icon in the taskbar and an Explorer window opens. Click again and it minimises, click again and it reappears. However, if you Shift+click the Explorer icon you get a second Explorer window, then a third, fourth and so on. OK, now you have four Explorer windows open on the desktop, left clicking the Explorer icon displays a pop-up menu listing the windows so you can select the one you want. However, if you Ctrl+click the Explorer icon it brings the next window to the top, then the next, and so on, cycling through each of the windows. If you right click the Explorer icon in the taskbar you get a menu that lists frequently accessed items, but if you Shift+left click you get a menu for arranging the windows.

It's not worth listing everything you can click, right click, Shift+click or Ctrl+click because it is something that you can explore for yourself. Just try clicking things and then holding down one of the modifier keys and see if there's a difference. Sometimes there is, but sometimes not. Try it and see.

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