Enable “Right-Click” on a Mac Laptop

May 24, 2011 - 22 Comments

Right-Click Mac Trackpad 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:

  1. Go to the  Apple menu and open System Preferences
  2. Click on Trackpad
  3. Go to the “Point & Click” section (called ‘One Finger’ in earlier OS X versions)
  4. Select the checkbox next to “Secondary Click” and select “Bottom Right Corner”
  5. 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:

How to enable a right-click on MacBook laptops

Here’s what this setting looks like in prior releases of Mac OS X too:

Enable a literal right-click in Mac OS X

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.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Wallaby says:

    This should be turned on by default just so I can stop fielding family tech support questions about right click :)

  2. a.z. says:

    Execellent. Thank You. Ive come by this a little late as I’m getting used to it now, however willstill enable it :)

  3. […] limited only to Safari, as Chrome and Firefox don’t include the option. However, you can also right-click on any image within the Finder and set your background image there […]

  4. […] access the feature, just right-click on any text block and select the “Add to iTunes as Spoken Track” option from the pop-up […]

  5. […] you’re left handed and using a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, you can also adjust the literal right-click to be a literal left-click […]

  6. Nicole says:

    I was about to leave Skype for not being able to block a contact due to “right clicking”…I’m a Mac user now. And because of your suggestion (this link was sent to me by Skype support by the way) I won’t be leaving them. Yet…thanks!

  7. Just bought my first Mac. Thanks for helping me out. There is still something I need to know about secondary clicks. On PCs there is a “right click key” on the keyboard so that I can right click where the cursor is. Is there a similar feature with the Mac? I find it time consuming to always have to use the touch pad to right click.

  8. Louise Woodward says:

    How do you double click on the new macbook i7?

  9. […] the Mac world don’t always remember it. If you’re switching someone from the PC world, enabling a literal right-click can be really helpful, but there are other options too, including using the left corner (for […]

  10. Tchouko says:

    This doesn’t work for my mac

  11. Andie says:

    Thanks so much for this – works great on my new laptop and also showed me some other options to use : )

  12. Laura says:

    Thank You!!.. Definitely much needed assistance given!!.. :)

  13. […] you’ve bought an Apple computer, the first thing you need to do is enable your MacBook track pad to right click or learn how to right click using your iMac.   Then, print out this cheat sheet provided by […]

  14. Jm says:

    To say that double clicking on a Mac is to patently lie to the public. Obviously, using 1 finger opposed to two to “right click” is much faster by default. You give fanboys a bad name!

  15. Jm says:

    *is faster

  16. God, I hate the Macbook Air touchpad. The computer is nice and all that, but why do Mac always have to do things different? just because they can?

    • Ito says:

      The MacBook trackpads are the best out there, and they’re highly customizable in that you can enable literal right-clicks, two-finger clicks, touch to click, touch to drag, click to drag, and so much more. What’s not to like about it? The tracking surfaces are made out of glass and highly responsive, you won’t find a better trackpad on any PC, Macs have the best hardware.

  17. clyde says:

    I unfortunately disable the tap to click option on my mac, and now I can’t click anymore. Can you help how to enable it again. I don’t have any external mous either.

  18. msr says:

    Thank you! you saved my day!! :-D

  19. Ben says:


    So simple, I did not see it myself.

  20. Ann says:

    Sierra, MacBook Pro 2015

    Is it possible to allow BOTH ‘Click in Bottom Right Corner’ and ‘Click With Two Fingers’? If yes, then how? I can’t (one checkmark disappears as i check another, with or without Ctrl) but this site says it’s doable and, for newbies, even recommendable.


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