Enable “Right-Click” on a Mac Laptop
If you or someone you know is coming to the Mac from the world of Windows and are accustomed to the concept of right-clicking, as in literally clicking on the right hand side of a trackpad or mouse, you’ll be relieved to find out this feature can be enabled in Mac OS X. This will work on any trackpad or touch mouse, including the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air, a Magic Trackpad, or a Magic Mouse.
First, a reminder that a two fingered click functions as a right-click in Mac OS X. This is much faster and intuitive once you get the hang of it, but many recent Windows to Mac switchers seem to prefer the literal right-click method, thus we’ll show how to enable that too.
How to Enable a Literal Right-Click in Mac OS X
Enabling a physical right-click on MacBook trackpads (or Magic Trackpad) is recommended particularly for those new to the Mac platform, for everyone else it can be a nice feature too:
- Go to the Apple menu and open System Preferences
- Click on Trackpad
- Go to the “Point & Click” section (called ‘One Finger’ in earlier OS X versions)
- Select the checkbox next to “Secondary Click” and select “Bottom Right Corner”
- Adjust the standard Mac OS X secondary click behavior with a two fingered click as you see fit
I would suggest keeping things foolproof and having both options enabled.
In modern versions of Mac OS X on all new MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Magic Trackpad hardware, this is what the Trackpad Right-Click function will look like in the preferences:
Here’s what this setting looks like in prior releases of Mac OS X too:
The Two-Fingered Click is Also a Right-Click is a Secondary Click
The default setting on a Mac for touch surfaces is for a two-fingered click to register as the alternate “right” click.
That is, a two-finger click is literally placing two fingers onto the trackpad and clicking, this is possible with the multi-touch ability of MacBook trackpads.
The right-click is officially called a secondary click, or sometimes an alternate click (alt-click), but the “right click” language is so deeply ingrained it’s generally how everyone refers to it in the Mac world as well as PC world. For this reason, we often refer to the secondary click as a “right-click” just to keep things consistent. Sometimes you’ll also see people refer to this as “Control+Clicking” because you can often summon the same menus by holding down the control key and then clicking. And every once in a while people will refer to it as alt-clicking, as in, alternative clicking, but regardless of the terminology used, the intended function is always the same.