Keyboard shortcuts step aside! Mouse gestures have been around for quite some time, and are often used as a way to quickly issue commands. One of the places that these are used the most is in the web browser, and that’s because a lot of repetitive actions are performed there. Just think about how many times each day you click the back or refresh buttons.
Today we’re going to demonstrate the various ways that you can use mouse gestures in Firefox, Opera, and Internet Explorer. The only problem you’ll run into is trying to absorb everything you can do with the mouse gestures. ;)
As you can imagine there are quite a few Firefox extensions out there that provide some sort of mouse gesture support. Here are two of my favorites (they both work with Firefox 3, although they are not officially compatible yet):
- FireGestures [Homepage]
This is everything that you would expect from a mouse gesture system, and more. There are dozens of different commands you can associate with your own gestures, and you can even take it one step further by creating your own commands. My guess is that you’ll be more than satisfied with the built-in commands though.
- Easy DragToGo [Homepage]
This isn’t a full-fledged mouse gesture extension like the one above, but it does use mouse movement to perform useful actions. What you can do is set it up so that when you drag-and-drop text, links, or images in a certain direction it will perform a special action. This can be an easy way to open links in a new tab, perform a Google search for text, or save images to your computer.
Opera has got to be the easiest browser to use mouse gestures simply because they are included out-of-the-box. You can perform a gesture by holding down the right mouse button and moving the mouse in one of the basic patterns described here, or one of the more advanced gestures here.
The first time you perform a mouse gesture it will prompt you with a box asking whether you want the gestures to be enabled. Alternatively you can open the Preferences and go to Advanced -> Shortcuts to turn them on. While you’re in the preferences you can also have it flip-flop the back and forward gestures if you’re left handed.
If you find yourself having trouble remembering the various gestures then you may want to consider adding this site as a panel in the sidebar. You can do this by bookmarking the site and choosing the option to show it as a panel. You’ll be more inclined to use the mouse gestures if you leave that site open in the sidebar for a few days while you grow accustomed to the various mouse gestures.
Of course Internet Explorer isn’t without mouse gestures. There are two plug-ins that I believe do a good job of executing mouse gestures in Internet Explorer, and the best part is that both come in 32-bit and 64-bit flavors! Here they are:
- Mouse Gestures [Homepage]
What I really love about this mouse gesture system is that it integrates very well into the browser. You can assign gestures to dozens of different commands, and it is also capable of opening a bookmark or simulating a keyboard shortcut.
- IE7Pro [Homepage]
This is a pretty popular plug-in for Internet Explorer, but if you’re looking only for mouse gestures this won’t likely be what you want. It’s a feature-packed add-on that does dozens of other things besides just gestures. Not only that but the configurability of the mouse gestures is not nearly as good as the previous plug-in that we mentioned. However, if you’re already using IE7Pro for some of the other features then you might as well take advantage of the mouse gestures.
As you can see mouse gestures are all over the place, and can be found in all the major browsers. Do you use mouse gestures, or are they not your thing? Personally I’m more of a keyboard shortcut person myself, but I’m sure many of you would rather keep your hand on the mouse.