If you are using a Windows computer, your mouse likely has three movable elements on it: a right button, a left button, and a wheel between them. You might already be turning the wheel to scroll up and down a web page, app window (e.g., window in an email app), or file (e.g., PDF file, Microsoft Word document). However, you can also use the wheel for several other tasks in web browsers, saving time and effort.
Here are six ways to make use good use of your mouse’s scroll wheel in the Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox web browsers:
1. Scroll Effortlessly
Scrolling up or down a web page by turning the scroll wheel works, but it can be tedious if you need to traverse a long distance. In this case, a better way to scroll is to click the wheel and then move your mouse briefly in the direction you want to scroll. Your web browser will then automatically scroll though the web page. Besides scrolling vertically, you can scroll horizontally. This is particularly useful if you cannot manually scroll horizontally because your mouse’s scroll wheel does not tilt to the left or right. You can even change direction when scrolling by moving your mouse in the new direction. When you want the scrolling to stop, you just click the web page with any part of your mouse (left button, right button, or scroll wheel).
The scrolling speed depends on how far you move the mouse when you initiate the scrolling. The farther you move it, the faster the scrolling. The speed also depends on how many lines the mouse is configured to scroll at one time. The spot in which to change this setting and the options available depend on the version of Windows you are running and the type of mouse you are using. For example, here is how to change the setting in Windows 10 for a mouse whose scroll wheel cannot be tilted to the left or right:
- Open the Start menu by clicking the Windows button.
- Click the gear icon, which is located in the lower left corner of the Start menu.
- Choose “Devices”.
- Select “Mouse”.
- Move the “Choose how many lines to scroll each time” slider to the desired setting. If you want to scroll even faster, you can change the “Roll the mouse wheel to scroll” setting to the “One screen at a time” option.
2. Open a Link in a New Tab
When you click a link on some websites, the new web page loads in the current tab by default. An easy way to get the web page to load in a new tab is to click the link with the scroll wheel. This is faster than right-clicking a link and selecting the “Open link in new tab” option. It is also less cumbersome than holding down the Ctrl key on your keyboard while clicking the link.
3. Open a Bookmark in a New Tab
Clicking a bookmark with the scroll wheel will open the web page in a new tab. This is useful when the web browser opens bookmarks in the current tab by default.
4. Open All the Bookmarks in a Folder at Once
If you use the scroll wheel to click a folder containing bookmarks, the web browser will open each bookmark in a separate tab. This is much faster than manually opening each bookmark. Thanks to this capability, you can put all the bookmarks for the web pages you visit each day in one folder. Then, when you want to open those pages, all you need to do is click that folder.
5. Close a Tab
You can quickly close a tab by clicking the scroll wheel anywhere on the tab. This is a bit quicker than having to put your cursor on a tab’s “x” button to close it.
6. Navigate Backward and Forward
If your mouse lets you tilt the scroll wheel to the left and right, you can use this capability for navigation. Clicking the wheel when it is tilted left is equivalent to using the “Back” button. Clicking the wheel when it is tilted right is comparable to using the “Forward” button.