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A double-click is the act of pressing a computer mouse button twice quickly without moving the mouse. Double-clicking allows two different actions to be associated with the same mouse button. Often, single-clicking selects (or highlights) an object, while a double-click executes that object, but this is not universal.

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On icons

By default on most computer systems, for a person to execute a certain software function, he or she will have to click on the left button in quick succession. An example of this can be a person clicking on an icon.

On text

In many text processing programs, such as web browsers or word processors, double-clicking on text selects an entire word. (In Unix operating systems, it will also copy that piece of text into a buffer separate from the system clipboard, as with all selected text. The selected text is not also put into clipboard until an overt cut or copy action takes place. A person can retrieve the information from this buffer, which is not the system clipboard, later by pressing the middle mouse button.)

Difficulties

New mouse users often have difficulty with double-clicking due to a need for specific fine motor skills. They may have trouble clicking fast enough or keeping the mouse still while double-clicking.

Solutions to this may include:

  • Cleaning the mouse.
  • Click once to Select and press Enter on keyboard.
  • Using keyboard navigation instead of a mouse.
  • Configuring the system to use single clicks for actions usually associated with double-clicks.
  • Configuring the system to allow for more delay time between the two clicks for it to be registered as a double-click (See below for how to on several operating systems)
  • Remapping the double-click function to a single click on an additional button, for example the often unused middle button. This effectively creates a Unix style 3-button scheme of select/action/context.
  • To prevent the mouse from moving during a double-click, bracing the mouse by putting the thumb on the side of the mouse and the bottom of the hand on the bottom of the mouse.

Additionally, applications and operating systems will often not require the mouse to be completely still. Instead, they allow for a small amount of movement between the two clicks.

Another complication lies in the fact that some systems associate one action with a single click, another with a double click, and yet another with a two consecutive single clicks. Even advanced users sometimes fail to differentiate between these properly. An example is the most common way of renaming a file in Microsoft Windows. A single click highlights the file's icon and another single click (on the filename, not the icon) makes the name of the file editable. A user who tries to execute this action may inadvertently open the file (a double-click) by clicking too quickly, while a user who tries to open the file may find it being renamed by clicking too slowly. This may be avoided by Windows' users by using the menu (or F2/Enter) to initiate renaming and opening rather than multiple clicks. In GNOME, this problem is avoided entirely by simply not allowing file renaming by this method.

Speed and timing

The maximum delay required for two consecutive clicks to be interpreted as a double-click is not standardized. According to Microsoft's MSDN website, the default timing in Windows is 500ms (one half second). The double-click time is also used as a basis for other timed actions.

The double-click timing delay can usually be configured by the user. For example, adjusting double-click settings can be done by:

  • Windows XP - Start > Control Panel > Mouse > Buttons (Start > Control Panel > Printers & Other Hardware > Mouse > Buttons if Control Panel is in Category view). If you prefer, you may use Start > Run > main.cpl.
  • Mac OS X - Applications > System Preferences > Keyboard & Mouse > Mouse
  • In the KDE Desktop under Unix-like operating systems - K Menu > Control Center (or Alt+F2 "kcontrol") > Peripherals > Mouse > Advanced > Double click interval
  • In the GNOME Desktop under Unix-like operating systems - System > Preferences > Mouse
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