Reprogram Your Mouse Buttons

11 May, 2011 By: Richard Leveille

From the Trenches: Want to use your thumb button for Escape? It's easy to modify your multibutton mouse to suit your preferences.

Editor's note: Last fall, when Skip Millett's paperclip-based keyboard modification tip was published on Cadalyst's CAD Tips site (see "Help Me Stop Pressing F1 Accidentally!"), other readers weighed in with their own workarounds for preventing an unintentional Help menu launch. Richard Leveille shared the following advice:

I started off with four users. We purchased four mice with buttons on the "thumb" side of the mouse, such as the Logitech MX310. We program the thumb button on the mice to behave as the Escape key. I now have 200 users. They all have this type of mouse (or similar), so there is no issue with accidentally pressing the F1 key because they never have to reach for the Escape key. The users absolutely love it.

For readers who are unfamiliar with the programming process he refers to, Leveille assembled the following tutorial.

Each mouse driver is slightly different, but all have the same basic functions. You will always have the ability to program mouse buttons when you have a multibutton mouse.

We try to buy mice with the standard right-click and left-click buttons and wheel, plus one additional button for the thumb. (Sometimes it's nice to have a mouse with a "thumb" button on both sides of the mouse — similar to the Logitech MX310 shown below — so you can program it for a right- or left-handed user.)

To reprogram a multibutton mouse such as a Logitech MX310, G5, or G3 (or any typical gaming-style mouse), start by going to Control Panel and selecting Mouse Properties. You will typically find a Button tab at the top of the Mouse Properties dialog box.

The normal AutoCAD settings for a Logitech mouse are as follows:

  • Left mouse button (shown above as item 1) is set to Click/Select. This is the normal default setting.
  • Right mouse button (shown above as item 2) is set to Context Menu/Alternate Select. This is the normal default setting.
  • Wheel button (shown above as item 3) is set to Middle Button. This is a change to the standard setup. To do this, pick item 3 from the pull-down menu, click the Modify button, then click the Middle Button option as shown below. The Middle Button option gives the user the proper Zoom and Pan functions within AutoCAD.


Last is the "thumb button" (shown in the first image as item 4), which is set to the Escape option.

The MX310 has two thumb buttons — one on either side of the mouse — so you can program it as Escape whether you are left- or right-handed. Based on many users' experience, the best approach is to program the correct button based on the individual's dominant hand, then program the opposite button to "unassigned." This prevents the user from accidentally pressing Escape with the pinky finger.

(Note: Many multibutton mice, such as the Logitech G5, have the capability to assign the Escape key to the thumb button by simply pressing which key to assign.)

Typical settings for the G5 are as follows:

  • Select Button: Choose item 4 (right thumb button) in the Select Button window.
  • Select Task: Click on the Keystroke Assignment button, move your cursor to 3a, and specify Keystroke. Press the Escape key on the keyboard so the word "Esc" appears in the box at 3a. Click Apply and OK.

Once you get used to activating the Escape function with your thumb button, you will never want to go back.


About the Author: Richard Leveille

Add comment

More News and Resources from Cadalyst Partners

For Mold Designers! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the mold design professional. Sponsored by Siemens NX.  Visit the Equipped Mold Designer here!

For Architects! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the building design professional. Sponsored by HP.  Visit the Equipped Architect here!