Right clicking on a Mac


How to right-click on a Mac

Wondering how do you right click on a Mac? Here’s how to right click on a trackpad, Apple mouse, Magic mouse, or any mouse.

By Karen Haslam, EditorKaren Haslam | 13 Jan 22

Right click on a Mac


Despite the wealth of two button mice available for use with Macs, the question of how to right click on a Mac or MacBook continues to be asked, so if you aren’t sure how to right-click on a Mac you’re not alone. Years ago Apple famously insisted that a one-button mouse was the way to go, rather than the two-button mouse preferred by Windows users – the legacy of this decision has been a lot of confusion about how to right click on a Mac.

However, we assume that Apple mice aren’t the only reason that the question of how to right click is baffling so many Mac users. Most Mac users are likely to be using laptops without a mouse and are therefore trying to understand how to use Apple’s trackpad, which has no obvious way of indicting a left or right button click – it’s no wonder Mac users are unsure of how to right click on MacBooks. Other users could be unsure because they have moved from a PC to a Mac and aren’t clear about the key combos such as how to cut and paste on a Mac.

There are actually a few ways to right click on a Mac, we’ll run through each below, but in summary they are as follows:

  1. Press control while clicking your mouse
  2. Press control while clicking the track pad
  3. If you have an Apple Magic Mouse you can set up a corner for ‘Secondary Click’ in System Preferences
  4. Press your trackpad with two fingers
  5. Assign a corner of the trackpad to be a right click
  6. Use a two button mouse – check out our round up of the best mice for Apple Macs.

Press Control to right click on a mouse or trackpad

One way to right click on a Mac is to press the Ctrl (or Control) key when you tap the mouse button or the trackpad.Future Mac chips: M1X, M2, M2X and moreWe discuss future Mac chips, how powerful they may be and what devices will receive the hardware upgrade first.https://vidapi1.threepi.de/cmsdata/features/3272329/material_channels_delicious_vapor_mjigqmnu.jpg,https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/sdkloader/bridge3.496.0_en.html#goog_16050799860 seconds of 25 minutes, 46 secondsVolume 0%

Don’t confuse the Ctrl key with the Alt (or Option) key. The Ctrl key on a Mac is not the one next to the space bar, it’s at the far end of the keyboard, on either the right or left side.

Read: How to type Æ, €, #, @, © and more special characters on a Mac

Use right-click with an Apple Magic Mouse

If you have an Apple mouse (referred to as the Magic Mouse by Apple) you may be wondering how to right-click – the mouse has no buttons at all!

Apple’s mouse also uses many of the same multi-touch gestures as the trackpad, but essentially, where you click on the Apple Magic Mouse determines the kind of click you are performing.

Right-clicking on an Apple Magic Mouse is actually pretty intuitive – you can actually click on the right of the mouse.

If this doesn’t work then you may need to set it up in System Preferences.

  1. Open System Preferences (either by clicking on the cog icon if it is in your Dock, or by clicking on the Apple icon at the top left of your screen and then System Preferences.)
  2. Select Mouse.
  3. Click Point & Click.
  4. Beside secondary click choose Click on right side (or left side).

Buy an Apple Magic Mouse from Apple or find out the best prices in our Best Apple Keyboard and Mice deals article.

Read: How to fix an Apple Mac mouse

Use two fingers on a Mac trackpad

If you have a trackpad and want to right click, you can use two fingers to click.  

If this doesn’t work you may need to set it up in System Preferences. Here’s how:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click on Trackpad.
  3. In Trackpad Preferences select: ‘Click with two fingers’ beside Secondary click.

There are lots more gestures you can set up here: How to use MacBook trackpad gestures.

Tap a corner of the trackpad

Perhaps two-finger tapping isn’t the most intuitive way for you to right-click. If that is the case you can choose to click on the corner of your trackpad when you want to right-click.

To set this preference up you need System Preferences again.

This time, rather than selecting ‘Click or tap with two fingers’ select either ‘Click in bottom right corner’ or ‘Click in bottom left corner’.

Right click on Mac

Right-clicking on a MacBook with Force Touch trackpad

The Force Touch trackpad uses taptic feedback to fool you into thinking that you can use various levels of pressure to achieve clicks.

In addition to the standard right-click functionality, there is a deeper click that opens up a contextual menu with additional options.

If you want to right-click, you can tap with two fingers, or set it to tap in the right or bottom corner as above, or you can press and hold the trackpad to get the equivalent of a right-click.

Use a two button mouse

If you purchase a mouse with two buttons to use with your Mac you should be able to use the right-click as you would expect.

We have a round up of the best Mac mice, which includes some great options. 

Why right-click on a Mac?

Right-clicks open up a new level of interaction, with extra contextual menus that aren’t available to single clickers.

For example, you could right click on a Word or Pages document and see options for cut, paste, change the font, and even look up the definition of a word or find synonyms.

You can right click on an open application’s icon in the Dock and choose to quit it.

Depending on the complexity of the program you are using the right-click options are likely to add an extra layer of detail that you would be lost without.


This next article is older and speaks only to the trackpad but may say things in a way that’s clearer for you.


Five ways to right-click on a Mac trackpad

Are you using the best way to perform a right- or secondary-click on a MacBook? Take a look at these five options to see if there might be a better way.

Matt Elliott May 13, 2013 2:20 p.m. PT

Matt Elliott/CNET

My friend and old boss Ben Patterson answered a reader question on his blog about the various ways in which one can right-click on a Mac trackpad. I read the post and was surprised that my preferred method of right-clicking was not covered. Although my method is a derivative of one of the four Ben outlined in his post, I still count it as a separate and distinct manner of right-clicking. Without further ado, let us discuss the five ways in which you can perform a right-click on a Mac trackpad.

1. Click with thumb while making contact with two fingers
This is how your intrepid blogger initiates a right click. Since my index finger is usually mousing about on the trackpad while my thumb lies in wait to click, I simply drop the ol’ middle finger down next to my mousin’ finger and click with my thumb to perform a right-click. I use it because requires the least amount of movement from my standard mousing-and-clicking posture; my index finger and thumb remain in their usual position, leaving me to move only my middle finger down to the surface of the trackpad.

2. Click with two fingers
Instead of placing two fingers on the trackpad and using your thumb to right-click, you can simply use your two fingers to click the trackpad.

3. Assign the bottom-right corner
If the two-finger right-click methods feel awkward to you, you can assign the bottom-left corner as a right-click zone in System Preferences. Launch System Preferences from the Apple menu and choose Trackpad. Next, click the Point & Click menu item at the top and you’ll see a Secondary click item. By default, it’s set up to click with two fingers, but you can set it to click in the bottom-right corner.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

4. Assign the bottom-left corner
See above but change bottom-right corner to bottom-left corner.

5. Click the trackpad while holding down the Control key
This last option requires two hands, but should you want to involve your off hand in the right-clicking procedure, you can hold down the Control key when clicking the trackpad to perform a right-click.

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