Two cool tips

If you have a laptop, you have a cool tool you probably didn’t even know about. Whether you have a laptop or a desktop, you can put things in context.


A nice tool you probably didn’t even know you had

Mobility Center is a great little utility that you already have if you are running Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 7 Home Premium or better (or even Vista Home Premium or better) on your laptop. If you are mystified by the blue pictures of things on the top row of your keys, Mobility Center is for you. It makes it easy to get to the most useful settings on your laptop without forcing you to use the function key or guess what those icons are supposed to represent...

The only key combination you need to remember is “Windows Key + X” (Press the Windows and the X key at the same time). In Windows 8 there’s an extra step, because why not? After you press WinKey+X, select Mobility Center.

The Mobility Center presents you with a “tiles” for controlling screen brightness, volume, switching your wireless connection off and on, and lets you see the battery status. Sometimes there are tiles for external displays and presentation settings. Not all computers can do all functions, and some computer manufacturers replace the generic Mobility Center with their own branded one.

You’ll find more information about the Windows 7 Mobility Center here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Using-Windows-Mobility-Center. Vista users go here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Using-Windows-Mobility-Center. If you have a Vista or Windows 7 laptop, try out the Mobility Center and see what you think.

There’s a good reason your mouse has two buttons

When I’m fixing a computer, setting up a computer, or tutoring a computer-user, I find I can amaze a lot of people by using the right mouse button. By “right” I don’t mean “correct.” I mean “the opposite of the left” button!

People are used to doing things by clicking or double-clicking the left mouse button. When you click once, you’re selecting something that you want to act on, or in a browser, you’re selecting a link that you want to go to. When you double-click the left mouse button, your are doing an action on the thing you’ve selected with that first single click.

Here’s what I mean. You have your Pictures folder open, and you double click on a picture. That causes a program to open in which you can view and/or edit your picture.

But if you right-click on that picture, you’ll see a context menu with a list of actions you can do. It’s called a context menu because right-clicking on different items brings up different things --- the list is context-sensitive. Move your mouse cursor over the action you want and click again to make it so.

Right-clicking has been around in every version of Windows, and is still largely unrecognized. It’s a powerful tool, and will make your life easier in whatever version of Windows you are running. When it comes to figuring out Windows 8, right-clicking proves invaluable. I encourage you to get used to it now!

Right-clicking in Windows 8 does the same thing if you are working in the Desktop environment. Right-clicking in the new tile environment does something similar. It brings up what is essentially a context menu, but in the new Windows 8-ish format. Whatever your version of Windows, experiment with right-clicking and you’ll find you have wider array of choices.

If you have a tip you’d like to share, email [email protected] and I’ll include the best ones in future columns.

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!


Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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