Taekwindow: Time to make your middle mouse button earn its keep

We've got to get our flying kicks somewhere

Friday FOSS Fest The Reg FOSS desk is, as you might expect, mostly Linux-based, but your correspondent does keep Windows around for things like rooting smartphones and reflashing BIOSes. There are a few things I miss switching from Linux, and the handy functions of the middle mouse button are high on the list. This is where Taekwindow scores.

If you're slinging a wheel mouse, you still have three buttons: your scroll wheel is the middle mouse button. You can click it as well as roll it up and down or even sideways.

If you've only got a trackpad with two buttons, clicking both at once simulates a middle-click. If you have 99 keycaps and no trackpad buttons at all… I feel bad for you, son.

On Windows or a Mac, the most common use for middle-clicking is easy: in most web browsers, it launches the target link in a background tab. That alone is a big time-saver (and why I don't use my Apple Magic Mouse).

But on most Linux desktops, it has two additional functions, and Taekwindow brings one of those to Microsoft Windows. (I'll come back to the third.) If you middle-click on a window's title bar, it sends that window to the back of the stack, putting it behind all the other windows. This is a quick and easy way to get at whatever was underneath that window, without moving, minimising, window-shading or anything.

Taekwindow does more than just that. One of them is another little-known Linux function that I don't need often but is hugely useful when I do. Normally, on most desktop GUIs, to move a window you drag the title bar. On Linux – again, in pretty much every window manager and desktop environment – you can move windows around by dragging anywhere if you hold down a modifier key on the keyboard – normally it's Alt. This enables you to move a window whose title bar has gone off-screen, or conversely, move the title bar offscreen so you can get at bits of the window that were off the bottom of the screen.

For touchpads with a left and right button (as above), click both together to simulate a middle-click. With smooth, buttonless touchpads, the ones that support multi-finger taps allow you to tap with three fingers at once to middle-click. (You have to enable tap-clicking in settings for this to work.)

For touchpads with a left and right button (as above), click both together to simulate a middle-click. With smooth, buttonless touchpads, the ones that support multi-finger taps allow you to tap with three fingers at once to middle-click. (You have to enable tap-clicking in settings for this to work.)

It has other snazzy functions too. It only has one preferences screen, so have a poke around – you might find a need for things I don't.

Taekwindow is tiny, it's free and open source, and you don't even need to install it: just run it and it works. This means you can use it on Windows boxes where you don't have admin privileges to install apps. What more could you ask? ®

Bootnote

That third function I mentioned is something Taekwindow can't help with. On Macs and Windows, there's only one way to copy and paste text: via the clipboard. First, you cut or copy to the clipboard, then you paste from the clipboard.

Linux has this but also offers a different way: select some text, point the mouse somewhere else and middle-click. The selected text is inserted where you clicked. This is as well as the clipboard, meaning you can copy two different pieces of text at a time.

For instance, copy the title of a web page (so it's in the clipboard), then select the URL. Move somewhere else, such as a social network in another browser or another tab, and press paste to insert the title, then middle-click to insert the URL. No repeated round-trips necessary.

There are Windows tools to bind middle-click to Ctrl-V, but firstly that doesn't give you two separate buffers, and secondly, it stops middle-click working in web browsers.

 

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