Open that menu, then that sub-menu, select that item, then that other ... I'm tired! I don't know about you, but in my opinion it's a waste to have in your hands a device full of potentialities like the mouse and having to waste all that time to launch a program, create a new file or open a folder.
Precisely for this reason I started looking for a free program that would allow me to extend the functionality of the mouse and save me a lot of time. I found it, indeed, I found several, both for Windows and for macOS, and today I'm here to recommend them, because they really changed my life! I am much more productive and I no longer "go crazy" behind the many menus and the many icons to click on the desktop of my computer: a real godsend!
I bet that you too will be thrilled with the results you will be able to achieve with these programs, so do not waste any more time, follow the advice I am about to give you and find out how to program mouse buttons (or touchpad, if you use a laptop) to increase your productivity. Regardless of the type of computer, mouse or operating system you use, you are sure to find a solution that suits you. Good reading and good fun, or good work, depending on your point of view!
Programming the Mouse Keys on Windows
If you use a PC equipped with the operating system Windows and you want to find out how to program mouse buttons, continue reading: below you will find a series of solutions suitable for you. They also work with touchpads, so with input devices that use laptops instead of mice.
X-Mouse Button Control
If you want to program the mouse keys on a Windows PC, you can't choose a more convenient and simple solution than X-Mouse Button Control: a free program, also available in a portable version (therefore it does not require installation to work), thanks to which it is possible to associate customized actions to all the mouse keys, including the scroll wheel. Here's how it works.
The first step you need to take is to connect to the X-Mouse Button Control website and click on the entry Portable version located at the top, to download the portable version of the program to your PC. When the download is complete open, double clicking on it, thezip archive just downloaded, extract the contents to a folder of your choice and run the executable that best suits your operating system.
If you are using a 32-bit operating system, then launch the executable XMouseButtonControl.exe located in the folder 32bit (x86), while if you are using a 64-bit operating system, launch the executable XMouseButtonControl.exe located in the folder 64bit (x64).
At this point, access the main window of X-Mouse Button Control by double clicking on its icon in the notification area, next to the Windows clock, and if this is in English, translate it into Italian following this procedure: click on the button Settings located at the bottom left, select the tab Language from the window that opens, set the option Italian give menu to tendin Language and save the settings by first clicking on OK and then Apply e Close.
Now, bring up the main screen of X-Mouse Button Control again and the program should be translated into Italian.
In the window that opens, use the drop-down menus located next to the items Left button, Right key, Central button, Mouse button 4, Mouse button 5, Rotate up, Rotate down, Wheel tilted to the left e Wheel tilted to the right to assign all the functions you want to the mouse buttons.
If, for example, you want the upward movement of the mouse wheel to increase the system volume and the downward movement to increase the volume, all you have to do is set the voice Medium - Turn up volume in the drop-down menu located next to the item Rotate up and the voice Medium - Turn down volume in the drop-down menu located next to the item Rotate down. If, on the other hand, you want to use one of the additional keys on your mouse to start a program, all you have to do is set the item Start application from the drop-down menu located next to the item Mouse button 4 or accanto alla voce Mouse button 5 and choose the application to start in the window that opens (by clicking on the button [...] and then OK).
What I have given you are just a few examples of the potential of X-Mouse Button Control, which is truly immense. By expanding the drop-down menus of the application, in fact, it is possible to find actions of any kind: from the simulation of mouse keys to the scrolling of the pages, passing through the operations of copy and paste, printing, zooming and the management of virtual desktops.
In short, all you have to do to extend the functionality of your computer mouse is to set the items of the various drop-down menus in relation to the buttons to which you intend to entrust the various functions and save the changes by clicking on the button Apply, which is located at the bottom right.
Also, if you click on the button Add located on the left side of the configuration panel X-Mouse Button Control and choose a specific program, you can vary the actions entrusted to the various mouse buttons according to the application you are using. Convenient, isn't it?
Another thing worth pointing out is that by selecting the tab scrolling of X-Mouse Button Control you can activate advanced options such asinversion of the scrolling direction, you can set the number of lines to scroll with every movement of the wheel and much more.
Finally, I point out that using the buttons Save profile e Load profile found at the bottom left, you can save the rule set you created in X-Mouse Button Control and load it, so you can create various usage scenarios and easily import / export your settings from one computer to another.
Please note: if you want to disable X-Mouse Button Control, all you have to do is click with the right mouse button on the application icon in the notification area (next to the Windows clock) and select the item Logout give the menu to compare.
Other Useful Solutions
If you have purchased a gaming mouse or a standard mouse with programmable keys, most likely you will also have installed on your PC a program supplied "as standard" with the device, through which you can customize the actions and behavior of the various keys.
This means you can also avoid using solutions like X-Mouse Button Control and take advantage of the solutions that come with the mouse to program the buttons on the mouse. The choice of how to act is yours: it all depends on your needs and on the type of customization you want to implement.
Programming the Mouse Keys on Mac
I use a Poppy? No problem. Even macOS, the operating system that drives Apple computers, offers different solutions for programming the mouse buttons. Let's see, together, some of the most interesting.
The first solution that I can recommend in the Mac field is BetterTouchTool: a program that allows you to associate custom actions to mouse keys and gestures performed on the trackpad (or on Apple's Magic Mouse) in an incredibly simple way. It's not free, but I can assure you that its infinite potential is worth every penny of what it costs: $ 6,50 for a two-year license or $ 20 for a lifetime license. In both cases, there is an initial 45-day free trial.
To download the free trial version of BetterTouchTool, connect to the program's website and click on the button Download latest. Then open thezip archive which contains BetterTouchTool, extract the software icon to the folder Applications macOS and start the latter by right clicking on it and selecting the item apri from the menu that appears on the screen (this operation is necessary only at the first start, to overcome the macOS restrictions on applications that come from non-certified developers).
Now you can take action and start programming your mouse buttons. Then click on the icon of BetterTouchTool present in the menu bar (top right, next to the system clock) and, if you are using a traditional mouse (therefore not an Apple Magic Mouse), select the tab Normal mice from the window that opens.
At this point, click on your button Add new button (bottom right), select the checkbox Click here to select mouse button located at the bottom left and press the mouse button you want to associate with a custom action. If you want to associate a custom action to the scroll wheel, scroll the scroll wheel up or down, depending on the movement you want to associate with the action you are about to set.
Once you have set the mouse button to associate your custom action with, expand the drop-down menu Predefined Action and choose one of the many actions available in the latter, which are grouped into categories. For example, selecting the category Controlling other applications you can find commands to launch an application, select items from the menu bar and much more; selecting the category OS X Functionality you can find actions to invoke Mission Control, Launchpad, Siri and other macOS functions; selecting the category Keyboard keys you can find actions that simulate pressing keys on the keyboard and so on.
Once an action is set in the menu Predefined Action, this will automatically be associated with the mouse button you have chosen previously. If you want, you can also make sure that the action is performed only if, together with the mouse key, one of the keyboard keys listed at the bottom left is also pressed: shift, fn, ctrl, opt o cmd (by placing a check mark in the appropriate boxes).
If, instead of the predefined actions present in BetterTouchTool, you want to associate a mouse key with keys on the keyboard (so that the program simulates their pressure), click on the field Custom keyboard shortcut and press the keyboard keys you want to associate with the selected mouse key.
If you have one Magic Mouse or use a trackpad, you can associate BetterTouchTool actions with gestures. Then select the tab Magic Mouse o Trackpads program (depending on whether you use a Magic Mouse or a trackpad), click on the button Add new gesture (bottom right) and choose the gesture to associate with an action from the drop-down menu Magic Mouse gesture o Touchpad gesture which is at the bottom left.
Then choose an action or keyboard key combination from the fields Predefined Action e Custom keyboard shortcut and that's it, just as seen before for traditional mouse actions.
In case of second thoughts, you can cancel an action set in BetterTouchTool by simply selecting it and pressing the button Delete selected which is located at the bottom right.
If, on the other hand, you want to completely disable the program, click on its icon in the macOS menu bar (top right) and select the item Quit BetterTouchTool give the menu to compare.
Magic Mouse and Trackpad Preferences
If you have one Magic Mouse Apple or use a Mac with trackpad (e.g. a MacBook or a MacBook Pro), you can customize the gestures available in the latter by starting System preference (the gear icon located on the Dock bar) and selecting Mouse o Trackpad from the window that opens.
There are few customizations available, you can only activate or deactivate the various gestures available (e.g. the swipe with three fingers to switch from one desk to another), but if you don't want to resort to more powerful and complete solutions such as BetterTouchTool, it is always better than nothing!