How to right-click on a Mac

Macworld

Despite the wealth of two-button mice available for use with Macs and MacBooks, 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 indicating 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/ctrl while clicking your mouse.

If you have an Apple Magic Mouse you can set up a corner for ‘Secondary Click’ in System Settings (or System Preferences).

Press control/ctrl while clicking the trackpad.

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.

Option 1: 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 Option (or Alt) 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.

Read:
How to type Æ, €, #, @, © and more special characters on a Mac

Option 2: 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. 

Option 3: 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 Settings (System Preferences on older Macs).

Open System Settings (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 Settings – on older Macs it’s System Preferences.)

Select Mouse.

Beside Secondary Click choose Click Right Side (or left side).

The same steps apply if your two-button mouse isn’t allowing. you to right-click.

Buy an Apple Magic Mouse from Apple or find out the best prices in our Best Apple Keyboard and Mice deals article.

Read:
How to fix an Apple Mac mouse

Option 4: 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 Settings. Here’s how:

Open System Settings (or System Preferences).

Click on Trackpad.

Beside Secondary Click choose Click With Two Fingers.

Option 5: 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 Settings again.

This time, rather than selecting ‘Click with two fingers’ select either ‘Click in bottom-right corner’ or ‘Click in bottom-left corner’.

Foundry

Right-clicking on a MacBook with Force Touch trackpad

The Force Touch trackpad uses haptic 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, a deeper click 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.

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 will likely add an extra layer of detail that you would be lost without.

Also read:
Best Mac Keyboards

Apple Inc, Mac

​Macworld Macworld

Despite the wealth of two-button mice available for use with Macs and MacBooks, 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 indicating 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/ctrl while clicking your mouse.

If you have an Apple Magic Mouse you can set up a corner for ‘Secondary Click’ in System Settings (or System Preferences).

Press control/ctrl while clicking the trackpad.

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.

Option 1: 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 Option (or Alt) 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.

Read:
How to type Æ, €, #, @, © and more special characters on a Mac

Option 2: 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. 

Option 3: 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 Settings (System Preferences on older Macs).

Open System Settings (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 Settings – on older Macs it’s System Preferences.)

Select Mouse.

Beside Secondary Click choose Click Right Side (or left side).

The same steps apply if your two-button mouse isn’t allowing. you to right-click.

Buy an Apple Magic Mouse from Apple or find out the best prices in our Best Apple Keyboard and Mice deals article.

Read:
How to fix an Apple Mac mouse

Option 4: 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 Settings. Here’s how:

Open System Settings (or System Preferences).

Click on Trackpad.

Beside Secondary Click choose Click With Two Fingers.

Option 5: 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 Settings again.

This time, rather than selecting ‘Click with two fingers’ select either ‘Click in bottom-right corner’ or ‘Click in bottom-left corner’.

Foundry

Right-clicking on a MacBook with Force Touch trackpad

The Force Touch trackpad uses haptic 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, a deeper click 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.

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 will likely add an extra layer of detail that you would be lost without.

Also read:
Best Mac Keyboards

Apple Inc, Mac 

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