Mouse Gestures

I’m all for anything that increases my efficiency when using a computer.When you spend eight hours a day using one, even the smallest time saving improvements made to a user interface can make a huge difference.A few months ago I talked about keyboard shortcuts which I have found useful for many years and this week I plan to introduce you to mouse gestures.

Popularized by the Opera browser, the mouse gesture is slowly but surely gaining support from both software developers and users.The idea is that rather than having to click on an icon or use a keyboard shortcut, the user instead holds down a mouse button (usually the right) then moves the mouse in a certain gesture (for example from right to left) and then released the button.This gesture is then converted in to relevant command, for example the commend ‘go back’ in a browser window.Whilst still not big in personal computing, gestures are already very popular on devices such as a PDA’s (Personal Digital Assistants) as the omission of a keyboard means that conventional keyboard shortcuts aren’t available as an alternative to laboriously clicking icons.

As an example of how mouse gestures could be used, let’s take a look at a few of those already built in to the Opera browser.All of these gestures require you to hold down the right mouse button and then make the movement indicated:

Previous Page – Move mouse left

Next Page – Move mouse right

Home Page – Double click right mouse button

Open New Document – Move down

Reload Page – Move up, then down

Maximise Window – Move up, then right

Minimise Window – Move down, then left

Close Document – Move down, then right

For those of you that missed my review of this popular and capable browser check out to download a copy.

Opera has had mouse gesture support since way back in 2001 and unfortunately as of yet neither Firefox nor Internet Explorer include support straight out the box.Both applications can be upgraded through with the use of add-in applications; those using Firefox should head to and for Internet Explorer check out course, both these utilities are very small downloads, completely free and don’t include any advertising.

Software support outside of the browser market is quite limited due to the fact that whilst most people use an Internet Browser in a similar fashion, most other applications are used in a very individual fashion and as such shortcuts for repetitive commands aren’t as relevant. I’d like to see more Operating System support for mouse gestures and I’m surprised that Vista didn’t have anything significant included; it wouldn’t revolutionise the user interface but would have been a nice touch.

I will also admit that I think the potential number of commands that can be accessed in this fashion is limited but once you’ve got used to using mouse gestures, it’s undeniable that they can reduce the amount of time taken performing repetitive tasks.


About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.