I’ve never really understood why the idea of creating a laptop that includes a third mouse button never really took off. Would it be all that bad to have some miniature button squeezed in between the left and right buttons on the touchpad?
The middle mouse button is important to me because I use it to activate special actions in all kinds of different applications, especially in my browser. I can middle-click on a tab to close it, or middle-click on a hyperlink to have it open in a new background tab. That kind of functionality is hard to give up once you’ve become accustomed to it, but so many laptop users just forget about it. Well, not me!
–Two Button Middle Click–
I’ve heard that most laptops simulate a middle mouse button when the user presses both the left and right buttons at the same time. I was initially excited, and thought that this would cure all of my problems. Unfortunately, it has never worked on any laptops I’ve tried.
That was my ideal solution, and I searched like a mad monkey trying to find a way to make it happen. To my dismay I was on my own because Google didn’t come through for me. Then it dawned on me that I could easily do this myself with an AutoHotKey script! In fact it only took two lines of code:
~LButton & RButton::MouseClick, Middle
~RButton & LButton::MouseClick, Middle
That essentially checks to see if both mouse buttons have been pressed down at the same time, and if they have then simulate a middle-click of the mouse. Pretty cool, huh? I also put it together in a standalone application that you can throw in your Windows Startup folder without needing to have AutoHotKey installed:
There is one downside to using this though. If you use a Rocker mouse gesture (holding down one mouse button and pressing the other) to navigate in an application, such as going backward/forward in a browser, you’ll be disappointed to know that it will no longer work. I’m not quite sure how I can circumvent that problem in the script, but for right now I would rather have the middle-click simulation available. It is possible to “pause” the script (a.k.a. temporarily deactivate it) from the System Tray icon if needed though.
–Middle Click Tap Zone–
Some mouse software also lets you setup a “zone” that you can tap on the touchpad to serve as the middle mouse button. Below is a screenshot from my Synaptics TouchPad configuration screen which shows that I’m about to assign the bottom-left corner of my touchpad to the middle-click action.