The Scroll Wheel Click Is The Navigation Hack You Didn’t Know You Need

Your computer’s mouse and keyboard are full of hidden features, and even if you’ve been using these devices for years, there may still be features you weren’t aware of. Whether it’s pressing Ctrl+Shift+T to reopen a closed tab or pressing Shift+Del to permanently delete a file without ever touching the Trash, there are plenty of tricks to help you be a little more effective on your computer.

But in my personal experience, the computer trick that surprises people the most is an action you can do with your scroll wheel.

Hidden scroll wheel function

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The internet is a great place to collect random information, but sometimes you see something you want to investigate later. You don’t want to click on the link and have to go back to the previous page, because that will interrupt your current reading. But you want to keep the track open for later.

What are you doing? You have a variety of options here, but this one is the simplest and most effective: if you’re using a mouse, just use your scroll wheel to click on the link. It’s not the most intuitive gesture, but pressing the scroll wheel while hovering over the link will automatically open that link in a new tab.

This little trick is great when you’re reading something that links to other interesting stories – just click the scroll wheel to open new tabs and check them out after you’ve finished reading the current story.

If you want other ways to open new tabs, we’ll guide you. We also have advice on keyboard shortcuts, like Ctrl+Shift+Tand take Windows screenshots (which you can open in new tabs with a click of the scroll wheel).

How to open links in new tabs

Opening pages in new tabs is a handy browsing technique, and there are several ways to do it.

  • Click with your scroll wheel to automatically open the link in a new tab.
  • Or right-click on a link and choose “Open in new tab”.
  • You can also hold Ctrl (or Command on Mac) when you click the link and it will open in a new tab.

Opening things in a new tab means you don’t have to pause your current reading, and you don’t have to wait for pages to load while you’re bouncing around. I use it all the time to do comparisons – just display the things I’m considering in a few different tabs and quickly compare them as I browse through my browser. It’s also useful when you’re reading a story that references another story that you want to check out without interrupting your current reading. Just click on the link with your scroll wheel and check it out when you’re done with this story.

Bonus Tip: You can use Ctrl+Tab to move forward and Ctrl+Shift+Tab to move backward through your open tabs.

For more IT tips, check out how to factory reset a laptop before gifting itand essential settings for your MacBook.

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