How to Right-Click on a Mac: 6 Different Ways
Just like their PC counterparts, doing a right-click on a Macbook can provide some useful benefits. You can access functions that are not otherwise easily accessible from the menus or keyboard in front of you. You can quickly open shortcut menus that offer specific options based on what is clicked. In some cases, you can even create shortcuts and additional actions by using right click on Mac hardware.
But given that Mac computers are laid out differently than PCs — most notably without left and right mouse buttons under the trackpad or on Apple's Magic Mouse — it can take some learning to figure out how to right-click on Mac computers.
What Does a Right-Click on Mac Computers Do?
Doing a right-click on a Mac typically gives you access to a shortcut menu, sometimes called a context or contextual menu. It's called this because what it shows depends on the context. When you right-click on a Mac, you can access extra functions that will make your life a little easier.
Depending on what's right-clicked and what program you are using at the time, various context menus may appear and offer selections such as "copy," "delete," "rename," or other options specific to that item. In addition, you can access helpful shortcuts, such as "Show Inspector" and "Show Package Contents,” and easily access additional features or options specific to the item you right-clicked.
For instance, you can quickly group multiple items into a new folder on the desktop or in a Finder window using a right-click on Macbook. First, select the items you want to group, use the right-click option of your choice, and then choose New Folder with Selection. Next, enter a folder name, press Return and then you're done.
The actual right-click on Mac computers is pretty straightforward, although you can access contextual menus on Macs in several ways. Some methods are available by default, while others are options that you can customize. Let's learn about six different ways to right-click on Mac computers.
Right-Click on Mac Using Keyboard and Trackpad
The default method to right-click on a Macbook out of the box is to use a combination of the keyboard and trackpad. The Control-click combination on a Mac opens contextual menus on Macs just as using right click on a Windows computer does.
To use this method, press and hold the Control key while you click on an item for which you want to open the shortcut menu, such as an icon, a window, the toolbar, or the desktop. The key, located on the bottom row at the left of the keyboard, may say Control or Ctrl, and it may also have a caret symbol (⌃) on it.
Right-Click on Mac Using Mouse Buttons
If you are a former Windows user and want the familiarity of accessing the contextual menu with your traditional mouse when you right-click on Macbook or other macOS hardware, you can achieve this using a third-party mouse.
You can program a non-Apple, external mouse with two buttons on Mac. Once you do, the mouse's right-click will work as you expect it to.
Start by connecting the mouse to your Mac using the instructions provided, either using its USB cable or via Bluetooth if you're using a wireless mouse. Once the mouse is connected, the macOS should recognize that you are using a two-button mouse. Therefore, it will automatically assign the mouse buttons, so you can click the right mouse button to perform a right-click on Mac.
If the mouse buttons are not working as expected, go to the Apple menu, select System Settings, and then click Mouse in the sidebar. Make sure Secondary click is enabled and choose Click right side.
Right-Click on an Apple Magic Mouse
The Apple Magic Mouse lets you navigate and control your Mac computer with natural gestures. It has a multi-touch surface that recognizes different gestures, like swiping up or down on the top of the mouse to scroll between pages. You can also right-click on Magic Mouse.
First, you must enable right- and left-clicks in the mouse settings. Go to System Preferences and choose Mouse. Select Secondary click to enable right- and left-click. Once the settings are enabled, you can press the right side of the mouse to perform a right-click. Alternatively, you can also press the Control key on the keyboard and click the mouse simultaneously to open a shortcut menu.
Right-Click on Mac Trackpads Using Two Fingers
Another way to right-click on MacBook is by using two fingers on the trackpad. First, enable tap-to-click by selecting the Apple menu and clicking System Preferences.
Choose Trackpad and select the Point & Click tab. Make sure Tap to Click is enabled.
Once it is enabled, simply tap on the trackpad with two fingers to do a right-click and open shortcut menus.
Note: Some people also use their thumb in this action and do a pinching motion between their two fingers and thumb in order to right-click.
Customize Right-Click on Mac Trackpad
You can choose a corner of your trackpad to use as a way to open a right-click menu. But first, you will need to adjust your trackpad settings.
Select the Apple menu and go to System Preferences.
Select the Point & Click tab. Make sure Secondary click is enabled, and in the Secondary click drop-down list, choose either Click on right side or Click on left side. Depending on your computer, these options may also be listed as Click in bottom right corner or Click in bottom left corner.
Then, all you need to do is tap the appropriate corner (or side) of the trackpad to open the contextual menu.
Choose the Right-Click Method That Works Best for You
Learning how to right-click on Mac computers can be a great way to streamline your workflow and take full advantage of the many features offered by the contextual menu. With just a few clicks, you can quickly access system commands and even open additional features or options related to the item you clicked without having to navigate through the menu bar.
Right-clicking is an invaluable tool for any Mac user, and learning this skill can make everyday computing tasks much more accessible.
Tricia Goss is a writer who is passionate about helping readers and small business owners learn ways to benefit from and simplify technology. She enjoys taking complex topics and breaking them down into easy-to-understand pieces. Tricia writes helpful articles on topics such as marketing, finance, customer service, and more. She lives in Texas with her husband and cocker spaniel named Gus.