How To Reassign Or Remap And Customize Mouse Buttons
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A couple of weeks ago, my old mouse started annoying me. The wheel grew a mind of its own, and it just won't obey me anymore. Now, when I scroll it up, it usually goes up, but sometimes it'll go down as well, and that can be a little frustrating.
So I just went and bought a new one. I was used to having a 5 button mouse, so I bought one with extra buttons too.
Unfortunately, soon I came to discover that the back button is forwarding web pages and the forward button is, well, you guessed it right.
That got me wondering, should I return my new mouse? I could, but I actually kinda like it. So, I did a little research.
What are the best free apps to reassign my mouse buttons?
The first thing that came to my mind was that they just don't make mice like they used to. But then again, back in the old days, I didn't even have a mouse with a scrolling wheel!
I'm guessing by now, you already have a mouse with at least 4 or 5 buttons. If you don't, well, by the end of this article I'm sure you'll want to buy one (and that's where you'll find some tips waiting for you). If you already have one, you'll probably be wishing yours had at least 10 buttons!
So, without further doing, let's start by reviewing one of the best options you can install on your pc.
What I like about Mouse Manager is its simplicity. But that can be its biggest downside. This little app can only remap the fourth and fifth buttons.
If you want to remap the left, the right, the middle or the 6th button, then you should just ignore this app.
As soon as you open it, just click on "Enable mouse manager" and you'll be redirected to the following screen, where you can just click "Add" and then type the button(s) you'd like to assign to the fourth button. Then, you can do the same for "Mouse Button 5" and when you're done, click "Save" and "Close."
You can disable a button by pressing the "X" button at the end of that buttons line and then you can set another key or combination of keys if you want.
You can have multiple profiles, but you can only have one of them selected and active.
You should also consider clicking on "Start with Windows" (before clicking on "Enable mouse manager"), so you don't have to start this app manually every time you turn your pc on.
You'll also get a Tray icon to toggle different profiles or to turn off this app for a moment.
If you need further assistance, you can find help on the download page of the app (here):
X-Mouse Button Control.
X-Mouse Button Control is a powerful software to assign actions to mouse buttons. Unfortunately, like Mouse Manager, it only supports mice with up to 5 buttons, but you can remap any of those buttons or the scrolling wheel.
Other than that, it enables you to create application and window specific profiles. This allows you to change the mouse behavior over some windows, such as making the mouse wheel change volume when hovering over the system tray or a youtube video.
If you need further instructions, check here the user's manual.
AutoHotkey is a free and open-source scripting language that enables you to create macros for process automation.
AutoHotkey scripts can be used to launch programs, open documents, emulate keystrokes, Unicode characters, and mouse clicks and movements. AutoHotkey scripts can also assign, retrieve, and manipulate variables, run loops and manipulate windows, files, and folders.
You can also expand abbreviations, such as assigning the string "btw" to produce the text "by the way."
This is a powerful app, there's no doubt about it. But depending on your needs, it can also be the easiest to use.
A scripting language is a programming language, but don't let that scare you because if you only want to remap a mouse button, you don't need to know anything about any programming language.
All you need to do is download AutoHotkey and install it on your computer.
Now just open Notepad and then you can start to type your script (we'll get into that soon).
When you finish, just save your file. Let's name it "Remap.ahk" (You can rename it to whatever you want as long as you don't remove the .ahk filename extension). In Notepad you need to enclose the name in quotes to ensure it does not add another extension (such as .txt).
Now, the tricky part is to know what to type. I'll give you some working examples and then a link to all the keys you can remap.
So, let's start with a simple example that you can type or copy and paste:
This is all that it takes to solve my little mouse problem. XButton1 is my fourth and XButton2 is my fifth button. If this sound complicated to you, you can start with a simpler example:
Then, every time you click on your right mouse button, it will type the "a" letter.
You can also use LButton for the left mouse button, MButton for the middle or wheel mouse button, WheelDown, WheelUp and so on...
You can find the list of keys here.
And some more remaining examples here.
By now, you should have noticed that this app also enables you to remap any key from your keyboard.
How to remap or reassign broken keyboard keys.
This can be very handy when you have a laptop because laptop keyboards are very easily damageable and very difficult to replace or even find compatible parts.
Even if you're lucky and replacing is still an option, right now you may not be willing to part from it for several weeks or months. So, if by any reason, you have a malfunctioning key and don't want to replace your entire keyboard, this app is the perfect solution for you. You just need to find an alternative key to use instead.
Let's say you "lost" you "g" key. If your keyboard has a "print screen" key and you don't need or use it that much, you only need to type this:
Other alternative and less used keys on your keyboard may be:
It may take you a couple of weeks to get used to your "new key," but you'll get the hang of it.
Disclaimer: This (or any other app mentioned here) is not a keylogger app, but there's really a fine line between a key remap and a keylogger app. I personally don't think you're going to have any privacy issues with this app, but that doesn't mean you should completely overlook this issue.
I'm not even going into details about privacy, and what you should do to protect your data, that's not the intent of this article. If you want to know more, you can google it, and you'll get plenty of info about this, but basically, this means it may not be a good idea to use this kind of software on a very restricted private environment. Anywhere else, it may be fine.
So, what do you think it works best for you?
I ended up choosing and using X-Mouse on all of my PCs because I found a portable version of it and it has all the features that I need. It may seem very confusing to set up when you first try it but for simple tasks it actually is very straightforward.
One thing you need to be aware of is that no app works with every mouse and not all buttons or features may be available for your mouse, so if by some unknown reason an app doesn't work for you, you can always try another one.
Do you want to upgrade your mouse?
You can start by checking out these mice on Amazon.
Wired and wireless cheap 6 button mouse:
Or you can go crazy with a 9 (or maybe 20! why not?) Programmable Buttons wired mouse from my favorite brand: Logitech.
Who doesn't love great deals, right? check these out:
Are you trying these apps or any other app? Do you already have a 6+ button mouse? You can share a picture of it and the reason you love it in the comments below. You can also share what you're using these apps for.
Please, don't leave with any unanswered questions because I may have an answer, and we'll probably be helping someone else too. Just leave them in a comment below or send me an email and I'll be glad to help.