Despite the wealth of two button mice available for use with Macs, the question of how to right click on a Mac or MacBook continues to be asked, so if you aren’t sure how to right-click on a Mac you’re not alone. Years ago Apple famously insisted that a one-button mouse was the way to go, rather than the two-button mouse preferred by Windows users – the legacy of this decision has been a lot of confusion about how to right click on a Mac.
However, we assume that Apple mice aren’t the only reason that the question of how to right click is baffling so many Mac users. Most Mac users are likely to be using laptops without a mouse and are therefore trying to understand
how to use Apple’s trackpad, which has no obvious way of indicting a left or right button click – it’s no wonder Mac users are unsure of how to right click on MacBooks. Other users could be unsure because they have moved from a PC to a Mac and aren’t clear about the key combos such as
how to cut and paste on a Mac.
There are actually a few ways to right click on a Mac, we’ll run through each below, but in summary they are as follows:
- Press control while clicking your mouse
- Press control while clicking the track pad
- If you have an Apple Magic Mouse you can set up a corner for ‘Secondary Click’ in System Preferences
- Press your trackpad with two fingers
- Assign a corner of the trackpad to be a right click
- Use a two button mouse – check out our round up of the
best mice for Apple Macs.
Press Control to right click on a mouse or trackpad
One way to right click on a Mac is to press the Ctrl (or Control) key when you tap the mouse button or the trackpad.
Don’t confuse the Ctrl key with the Alt (or Option) key. The Ctrl key on a Mac is not the one next to the space bar, it’s at the far end of the keyboard, on either the right or left side.
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Use right-click with an Apple Magic Mouse
If you have an Apple mouse (referred to as the Magic Mouse by Apple) you may be wondering how to right-click – the mouse has no buttons at all!
Apple’s mouse also uses many of the same multi-touch gestures as the trackpad, but essentially, where you click on the Apple Magic Mouse determines the kind of click you are performing.
Right-clicking on an Apple Magic Mouse is actually pretty intuitive – you can actually click on the right of the mouse.
If this doesn’t work then you may need to set it up in System Preferences.
- Open System Preferences (either by clicking on the cog icon if it is in your Dock, or by clicking on the Apple icon at the top left of your screen and then System Preferences.)
- Select Mouse.
- Click Point & Click.
- Beside secondary click choose Click on right side (or left side).
Apple Magic Mouse from Apple or find out the best prices in our
Best Apple Keyboard and Mice deals article.
How to fix an Apple Mac mouse
Use two fingers on a Mac trackpad
If you have a trackpad and want to right click, you can use two fingers to click.
If this doesn’t work you may need to set it up in
System Preferences. Here’s how:
- Open System Preferences.
- Click on Trackpad.
- In Trackpad Preferences select: ‘Click with two fingers’ beside Secondary click.
There are lots more gestures you can set up here:
How to use MacBook trackpad gestures.
Tap a corner of the trackpad
Perhaps two-finger tapping isn’t the most intuitive way for you to right-click. If that is the case you can choose to click on the corner of your trackpad when you want to right-click.
To set this preference up you need System Preferences again.
This time, rather than selecting ‘Click or tap with two fingers’ select either ‘Click in bottom right corner’ or ‘Click in bottom left corner’.
Right-clicking on a MacBook with Force Touch trackpad
The Force Touch trackpad uses taptic feedback to fool you into thinking that you can use various levels of pressure to achieve clicks.
In addition to the standard right-click functionality, there is a deeper click that opens up a contextual menu with additional options.
If you want to right-click, you can tap with two fingers, or set it to tap in the right or bottom corner as above, or you can press and hold the trackpad to get the equivalent of a right-click.
Use a two button mouse
If you purchase a mouse with two buttons to use with your Mac you should be able to use the right-click as you would expect.
We have a round up of the
best Mac mice, which includes some great options.
Why right-click on a Mac?
Right-clicks open up a new level of interaction, with extra contextual menus that aren’t available to single clickers.
For example, you could right click on a Word or Pages document and see options for cut, paste, change the font, and even look up the definition of a word or find synonyms.
You can right click on an open application’s icon in the Dock and choose to quit it.
Depending on the complexity of the program you are using the right-click options are likely to add an extra layer of detail that you would be lost without.
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