Your Computer Mouse's Scroll Wheel Can Improve Your Internet Browsing
This secret power is a real time-saver if you open a ton of browser tabs.
Adam BenjaminManaging Editor
Adam Benjamin has helped people navigate complex problems for the past decade. The former digital services editor for Reviews.com, Adam now leads CNET's services and software team and contributes to its game coverage.
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I'm still discovering new productivity tricks and hidden features, even though I've been using a desktop computer for decades. There are so many ways to save a keystroke here and a mouse click there. Those few milliseconds can actually add up to big-time savings (or at least less annoyance) over the course of a week, especially if your job is primarily done online.
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.
The scroll wheel's hidden function
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.