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Scroll-Wheel Click Is the Browsing Hack You Didn't Know You Need

That scroll wheel can do more than just move you up and down a page.

Logitech G305 lightspeed wireless mouse
It's not the most obvious feature, but you can use your scroll wheel to click.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Your computer's mouse and keyboard are packed full of hidden features, and even if you've been using these devices for years, there may still be functions you weren't aware of. Whether it's pressing control + shift + T to reopen a closed tab or pressing shift + delete to permanently delete a file without ever hitting the recycle bin, there are plenty of tricks to help you be a little more efficient on your computer. 

But in my personal experience, the one computer trick people are most consistently surprised about is an action you can do with your scroll wheel.

Scroll wheel's hidden function

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The internet is a great place to collect random tidbits of information, but sometimes you see something you want to investigate later. You don't want to click on the link and have to go back to the previous page, because it would interrupt your current read. But you want to keep the trail open for later.

What do you do? You have a variety of options here, but this is the slickest and most efficient: If you're using a mouse, just use your scroll wheel to click on the link. It's not the most intuitive motion, but if you push your scroll wheel down while hovering over the link, you'll automatically open that link in a new tab. 

This little trick is great for when you're reading something that links out to other interesting stories -- just scroll wheel click to open new tabs and check them out after you finish reading the current story. 

If you want other ways of opening new tabs, we'll walk you through it. We also have tips on keyboard shortcuts, like Ctrl + Shift + T, and taking Windows screenshots (which you can open in new tabs with a scroll wheel click).

How to open links in new tabs

Opening pages in new tabs is a convenient browsing technique, and there are a few different ways of doing it. 

  • Click with your scroll wheel to automatically open the link in a new tab.
  • Or right-click a link and choose "open in new tab."
  • You can also hold down Ctrl (or command on Mac) when you click the link and it will open in a new tab.

Opening things in a new tab means you don't have to interrupt your current read, and you don't have to wait for pages to load as you bounce back and forth. I use it all the time for comparison shopping -- just pull up the things I'm considering in a few different tabs and quickly compare by tabbing through my browser. It's also good for when you're reading a story that references another story that you want to check out without interrupting your current read. Just click the link with your scroll wheel and check it out when you're done with this story. 

Bonus tip: You can use Ctrl + Tab to move forward and Ctrl + Shift + Tab to move backward through your open tabs.

For more computer tips, check out how to factory reset a laptop before gifting it, and essential settings for your MacBook.