back to article Taekwindow: Time to make your middle mouse button earn its keep

The Reg FOSS desk is, as you might expect, mostly Linux-based, but your correspondent does keep Windows around for things like rooting smartphones and reflashing BIOSes. There are a few things I miss switching from Linux, and the handy functions of the middle mouse button are high on the list. This is where Taekwindow scores. …

  1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge


    Windows is ready for the desktop!

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: Finally!

      I think you're being a bit premature.

      I'm assured that next year (certainly the year after) it'll be ready!

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        Re: Finally!

        I actually didn't know about the "send to background of the stack"-thing, but then most of my work is done on the command line or text editor, and I arrange stuff by having an elaborate layout of virtual desktops. And thanks to Win10 I can now do that in my new job as well. Windows _is_ ready for the desktop, now if it only had a good command line (the Powers that Be in IT do not allow the Linux subsystem :( )

        1. NoKangaroosInAustria

          Re: Finally!

          Haha - same here! I'm hearing about this send to background for the first time.

          I have 5 virtual desktops setup and CTRL+ALT+ left/right are my most used key-combos right after ALT+TAB :)

  2. DarkwavePunk

    3 buttons?!

    Back before dinosaurs learnt to fly I was using Sun (maybe SGI) workstations with a 4 button mouse. Proper mouse - balls and all. I must admit getting used to 2 copy buffers in *nix style takes a while, but now I constantly bugger up cut'n'paste when I need to use Windows. Can't win.

    1. wurdsmiff

      Re: 3 buttons?!

      In case you don't already know, Windows now has a clipboard 'history'. It's not quite the same, but makes cut and paste activities easier. Press Win+V and a list of your previously copied content pops up. You can then click to pick which one you want to place.

      1. DarkwavePunk

        Re: 3 buttons?!

        Mate, as a non native Windows user, that option is better than being stabbed in the face with a rusty fish fork. My many thanks.

        Beer for you --->

        1. wurdsmiff

          Re: 3 buttons?!


  3. Dave 126 Silver badge

    I came across a 'CAD mouse' by 3Dconnexion (that branch of Logitech best known for its Space Navigator and Space Ball human input devices) the other day on eBay... as far as I can tell, it's just a normal mouse but with a middle button and a big price tag.

    I started using 3D CAD at the end of the Unix days with the 3rd button, shortly thereafter duch CAD came to Windows desktops when two buttons and scroll was becoming the norm. These days I use a Logitech MX with extra buttons, so I've remapped some middle button functions away from the scroll wheel.

    Remember though: in the UK there is a large cohort of folk who used Acorn Archimedes computers when at school with a GUI that used the middle button for a context menu. For a goid chunk of them it may theor only experience of a *nixy-style 3rd button GUI, if they haven't played with any *nixes since.

  4. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Cut and paste

    That quick way to copy text and url looks dead handy. I was wondering if there are any 'citation manager' softwares or browser plugins that accomplish the same result?

    I,e if I copy the text 'Aardvark, n. Insect-eating mammal..' can any plugin add the url so the pasted text reads:

    ''Aardvark, n. Insect-eating mammal..' -''

    1. T. F. M. Reader

      Re: Cut and paste

      Heh-heh, memories... Many years ago (in the previous millennium, and not any more - put your pitchforks away!) I used to run everything, including shell and browser, inside X?Emacs. What you describe was dead easy... And actually quite useful... ;-)

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Cut and paste

        I still (near daily) use vi as my shell. Limits the distractions when I'm writing ... and yet still gives me full access to any shell I want, plus I can run my browser of choice (lynx) ... or even EMACS ... should I feel the need.

        Yes, EMACS runs quite nicely under vi :-)

    2. Adrian 4

      Re: Cut and paste

      I'm more used to using the middle button for cut/paste than the ^C/^V keys due to lots of CLI use. But I do have the problem that support is a bit spotty.

      I can cut from a window and poaste into a browser with the middle button. But if I cut from some visual contexts (browser, arduino IDE) I can't paste into the CLI with ^V.There is a pop-up window in the terminal emulator that allows paste which does it, but that's a messier operation than either middle button or ^V. And it doesn't work in emacs at all.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Cut and paste

        To paste into the terminal, try <ctl><shift>V

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    in case it is useful info to some...

    I use xbindkeys to define weird actions that can be initiated by various crazy and obscure key/mouse combinations (or even not weird, crazy, and obscure ones).

    1. teknopaul

      Re: in case it is useful info to some...

      Xdotool is another corker, enables scripting key and mouse move combinations, some that can be linked to a window with specific title.

      I have a ps3 controller that can control vlc without having to write vlc code. The little app just used Xdotool to send keypresses to vlc.

      É. G. Mouse move over the screen and double click to full screen, with no code.

      1. Charles 9

        Re: in case it is useful info to some...

        Sounds like an X analogue to AutoHotKey.

  6. 42656e4d203239 Silver badge

    command line right click

    >>Linux has this but also offers a different way: select some text, point the mouse somewhere else and middle-click. The selected text is inserted where you clicked.

    Powershell does this only it uses right click.... select text, right click, put cursor where you want, right click. Boom.

    Right click also pastes whatever is on (the current) clipboard at the moment - say from another non Powershell window..

    Shame the rest of Windows hasn't been modified to do the same (I suspect that Powershell caught it off Linux/Unix in the first place) but I guess that would modify too many right click features - Perhaps Microsoft could adopt <alt><right click> instead?

  7. imanidiot Silver badge

    Not always

    "If you're slinging a wheel mouse, you still have three buttons: your scroll wheel is the middle mouse button."

    I still regularly encounter mice where the scroll wheel isn't clicky.

    1. Adrian 4

      Re: Not always

      "I still regularly encounter mice where the scroll wheel isn't clicky."

      And even if it is, clicking iut can induce some scrolling. However some multibutton mice allow it to be assigned elsewhere such as a thumb button.

  8. Dr_N

    The major feature missing in Windows...

    ... is being able to type/paste in a window without it popping to the front.

  9. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

    Open background in new tab

    > middle-clicking is easy: in most web browsers, it launches the target link in a background tab. That alone is a big time-saver (and why I don't use my Apple Magic Mouse).

    Ctrl-Click is the ordinary way to do this. Cmd-Click on Mac, IIRC.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: Open background in new tab

      But middle-clicking only uses one hand, handy if your other hand is doing something else besides typing. I prefer middle-clicking to Ctrl-clicking.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Open background in new tab

        One hand on the mouse, one on the keyboard. I had a girlfriend like that once.

        Personally, I prefer to keep both hands on the keyboard. More efficient.

        1. Charles 9

          Re: Open background in new tab

          That's the thing. Unless I'm gaming, I usually have either both hands on the keyboard or no hands. Usually, I mouse with my right hand and hold something else in my left.

        2. T. F. M. Reader

          Re: Open background in new tab

          And that's a big reason why Thinkpads with their trackpoints and 3 (sic!) mouse buttons right underneath the keyboard are my favourites...

  10. BenDwire Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Mind Blown

    I've been using Unix & Linux for more years than I really care to admit (cough, early 1980's) with all sorts of multi-button CAD mouses, and I have never heard of these uses for the middle button. Where have I been?

    Unfortunately the first two don't work on my Debian 11 / Wayland / Gnome 3 system, but the third one does. I've long suspected that cut'n'paste has problems on this box as it sometimes refuses to copy formulae from spreadsheets, so maybe I'll RTFM and get things working as they should.

    Nice article, thanks!

  11. Kubla Cant

    Magic Mouse

    When I started my latest job they sent me a brand-new MacBook, which was nice. They also sent a Magic Mouse, where "magic" apparently means "won't do most of the things a normal mouse would do, but looks totally cool". The rest of the world has decided that a plump mouse that fills your hand is the most ergonomic, but Apple disagrees, presumably because cool dudes don't care about RSA.

    Much the same is true of the Apple keyboard, which has six keys that all have up/down arrows and seem to do different things depending on the application, but no Page Up/Down, Home or End. Not to mention the horrid little keys that cause unwaannted reppetition. And it has no dedicated hash key. After all, there are no applications that make extensive use of "#" in current use.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Magic Mouse

      @kulia Cant The Apple keyboard is crap? The Apple mouse is crap? Well don't use the things... But then you would have nothing to snark about would you?

      I use a Das keyboard that is for a Mac. It has all the keys you say are not there on the Apple keyboard. I do not use the Apple mouse either, I use a cheap Logi mouse. Job sorted

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Magic Mouse

      Twitter adopted the # symbol *because* it wasn't in common use. And because it wasn't used as often as some symbols, keyboards don't usually have a dedicated # key.

      On my Windows PC I use a G3 Mac Pro Apple keyboard Keyboard because its nicer than any others I have kicking around... it hasn't caused me any problems far as I recall.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Magic Mouse

        Not in use? The twits actually thought that? Really? Would explain lots, if true.

        Clearly, the twitterdiots had never spent any time on the network they were taking advantage of, and had never done any programming to speak of. They certainly never used IRC, nor did any shell programming ...

        My keybr0ad has had a dedicated octothorpe (<shift>3) for a lot longer than twitter has been around (the VT-05 came out in, what, '70?). IBM's Selectrics used <shift>3 from the early 1960s.

        1. Charles 9

          Re: Magic Mouse

          "My keybr0ad has had a dedicated octothorpe (<shift>3) for a lot longer than twitter has been around (the VT-05 came out in, what, '70?). IBM's Selectrics used <shift>3 from the early 1960s."

          Dedicated meaning you don't need to use a modifier key to access. If you look to the keypad, you'll see dedicated keys for asterisk (for emphasis and multiplication), slash (for dates and division), minus (for dates and subtraction), plus, and period. No octothorpe.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Magic Mouse


            So I suppose in your world there is no dedicated "A" because one has to use the shift key?

            Note that the OP is probably a Brit ... they have a £ where us Yanks have a #.

            1. Charles 9

              Re: Magic Mouse

              But the UK keyboard should have a dedicated # key, above the right Shift and left of Enter. And caps can be defaulted with Caps Lock, whereas no such option exists for top-row symbols.

  12. ShadowSystems
    Paris Hilton

    What's a mouse?

    I am the Human slave to a Furry Feline Goddess whom Does Not Allow such vermin in Her domain. If someone buys me a mouse I tend to find it disemboweled & strewn about the house as a sign of Her displeasure.

    *Looks off screen*

    I must be going, SWMBO is demanding Her morning bowl of gooshy food...

  13. AndrueC Silver badge

    On Windows to bring a window back into sight I use Alt+Space which opens the Window menu (which will always appear visible on screen regardless of where its parent window actually is) then M to activate Move mode. then you can use the cursor keys to drag the window where you want it. [Return] to leave it in the desired position, [ESC] to return it whence it came.

    That's been working since the earliest versions of Windows and works even if you have no mouse at all. :)

    1. Mystereed

      Excellent tip, but if that doesn't work, it might be because the application is maximised (the Move option is then greyed out).

      Practice on an application you can see on screen, but alt-space then afterwards an r will 'restore' the application to non-maximised. Then do alt-space and m etc as above.

      1. Charles 9

        The Alt-Space will work even on a maximized window. Often it'll even work on a full screen. If Move is disabled because the window is maximized, then Restore (as in restore the standard window mode) becomes enabled, which then enables Move.

  14. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    If you middle-click on a window's title bar, it sends that window to the back of the stack, putting it behind all the other windows.

    I'd never heard of this, despite using Linux exclusively for 15 years, so I tried it. And yes, it does work, but only on some windows. Firefox, fine. Evolution, fine. Thunderbird, fine. Audacious, fine. But not "Files" or Remmina. Perhaps it's not coincidence that both of those use the new "Stupid" Linux interface which has ambiguous icons placed randomly along the top, which appears not to be a title bar, despite having a title on it.

  15. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    So, they're catching up with RISC OS. Have they implemented Adjust-Scroll Arrow to scroll in the opposite direction yet?

    1. jake Silver badge

      "Have they implemented Adjust-Scroll Arrow to scroll in the opposite direction yet?"

      The various un*x GUIs had that capability long before RISC OS existed. It wasn't always implemented, mainly due to the fact that nobody wanted/needed it, but the capability was there.

      I'm fairly certain that the capability existed early on in Windows (1.x, pre-RISC OS) ... but again, it wasn't much called for, so (almost) nobody implemented it anywhere.

  16. jake Silver badge

    If you need multiple levels of clipboard on KDE ...

    ... might want to look into Klipper.

    Klipper doesn't manage your cut buffer history, rather it saves the history of your X Selections (items hilighted, before you copy or cut them), and then allows you to select from a list which you want to paste. It has worked for many users in my sphere for about twenty years now. It's an ugly hack, but it does what it does well enough ... it seems to be quite stable, and never gets in the way. It protects your saved bits & bobs between sessions. Yes, potentially it's a privacy problem ... but it's easy enough to clear, should you need/want to do so.

    Here's a link to The Klipper Handbook ... but as usual for small utilities like this, it's easier to use than it is to read about it.

    For those of you unfortunate enough to use Gnome, might want to try glipper.

  17. T. F. M. Reader

    Yet another useful function

    At least in KDE: click the Maximize button on the title bar - left mouse button maximizes it to the display size (not full screen), middle button maximizes vertically, right button - horizontally. Very useful on occasion.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: Yet another useful function

      That's an interesting feature request, as middle-clicking and right-clicking on the Maximize are undefined right now in Windows. Maybe a right-click to only maximize vertically and a middle-click to maximize horizontally.

  18. Disk0

    Multitouch. Drag & Drop. That is all.

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