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Knowing how to operate a mouse is a large component of computer literacy. Without a mouse's basic functions - like pointing, clicking, dragging, and dropping - using a computer can be a challenging or impossible task. While some of these functions can be completed using trackpads or keyboard buttons, the ubiquitous nature of mice for use with desktop computers make it necessary for you to familiarize yourself with these peripherals. Several online tutorials, guides and exercises can walk you through mouse operations and give you the practice you need to become confident with these rodent-like devices and their accessible counterparts. When completing any tutorial or guide, it can be a good idea to start practicing good posture that will help reduce strain and stress experienced by your arms and wrist due to mouse operation. Doing this can prevent common, associated health problems like carpal tunnel syndrome.
A number of websites exist on the Internet that can help you master the functions of pointing, clicking, scrolling, dragging, and dropping. Among these are simple drawing and matching games that require you to use these functions in order to "win." While teaching you basic operational tasks, certain exercises can also help familiarize you with the specific components of a mouse. For example, the scroll wheel can be an integral part of game featuring balloons. Certain tutorials can also instruct you on how to use unusual or advanced mice, like trackballs or gaming mice, to complete everyday tasks.
Standard mice can be replaced with different hardware when you're using a laptop. Many laptops contain trackpads, which mirror mouse functions by moving your fingers across a touch-sensitive pad in front of the computer's keyboard. While you'll have the ability to manipulate cursor positions, scroll, and click with trackpads, the specific finger movements associated with these commands can require some practice to master. This can be especially true of multi-functional trackpads, like those featured on Apple laptops. If trackpads present too much of a challenge for you as a beginner, you can connect a regular mouse into a USB port on your laptop and use it like you would a regular, desktop computer's mouse.
If you're disabled and maneuvering a mouse proves too difficult for you, know that there are several alternative options available to you. Aside from investing in accessible keyboards and mice to address your specific disability, you can also learn to use keyboard shortcuts. Shortcuts can require a certain degree of manual dexterity, but they can replace potentially painful or harmful wrist movements with simple clicks of your keyboard's buttons. Using mouse commands on a keyboard is simply a matter of finding the corresponding buttons, such as page up and down arrows to replace scroll wheels, configuring hotkeys, and configuring Ease of Access settings if you have a computer running Windows.
Learning how to use a mouse correctly goes beyond memorizing the anatomy of the device and the physical movements that control it. Safe and responsible mousing includes practicing ergonomics to prevent and relieve injuries associated with repetitive motions. Always be sure to sit correctly at your computer desk and position your hand so that operating your mouse minimizes stress experienced on your fingers, wrist, and elbow. If you already experience discomfort from repeated use of your mouse, think about investing in flat mice or forearm supports to keep your hand and wrist as flat as possible. Consider taking regular breaks from using your computer to allow your arm to relax as well.