Reconfiguring mouse buttons is a snap with SwapMouseButtons

Reorienting yourself to a mouse that's on the wrong side of a keyboard can take time. Rather than make the changes in Control Panel, you can switch a mouse from one hand to another with SwapMouseButtons.

How many times have you sat down at a user's desk to help with a problem and noticed that the mouse was on the "wrong" side of the keyboard? Whether you're right- or left-handed, supporting a desktop with the mouse configured the opposite of what you're used to can be annoying. Likewise, users can become frustrated if you have a workstation set up for sharing in a common area and they have to constantly reconfigure the mouse. That's where SwapMouseButtons can be helpful.

What's SwapMouseButtons?
SwapMouseButtons is a virtual sanity savior for anyone who has to swap the mouse from one side of the keyboard to the other. Most left-handed users have just fought nature and adapted to using a mouse geared for right-handers. Either that or they've reconfigured the mouse to work on the "proper" side, only to have a support tech fumble with the mouse or reconfigure it to his or her own liking.

Normally, to reconfigure the mouse buttons on a workstation, you have to go through Control Panel. There, you double-click the Mouse icon and change the properties in the Button Configuration area by selecting the Switch Primary And Secondary Buttons option in Windows XP or the Right-Handed or Left-Handed option in Windows 2000. Then you have to click OK…and then close Control Panel. That's a lot of clicking just to move the mouse successfully from one side of the keyboard to the other.

SwapMouseButtons is a freeware utility that allows you to quickly reconfigure the mouse buttons by pressing a single key or key combination on your keyboard. By pressing [Ctrl][F12] you can easily swap the right button to the left. Then, just press [Ctrl][F12] again to restore the normal setting. If you don't like the default key combination, you can choose a different one.

You can download SwapMouseButtons directly from the SwapMouseButtons Web site. The program you need, Smb-Install-2-1.exe, is only 352 KB in size, so it should download quickly.

Installing and using SwapMouseButtons
SwapMouseButtons installs using a wizard just like almost every other Windows program you've ever used. To install SwapMouseButtons, execute the Smb-Install-2-1.exe program you just downloaded. When the wizard begins, follow the onscreen prompts. There's nothing in the wizard that may trip you up.

Once the wizard finishes installing the program, it will display the default key combination that SwapMouseButtons will use. For Windows 9x, this will be [F12]. If you're using NT, Windows 2000, or Windows XP, the default combination is [Ctrl][F12].

When you press the key combination, you'll hear a brief beep on your workstation. You'll also briefly see an icon similar to the one in Figure A. The red button will indicate which button SwapMouseButtons has activated. In the figure, the left button has become the main clicking button.

Figure A
SwapMouseButtons shows which buttons are active.

Changing the hot key
Changing the default key combination is relatively easy. First, press the default key combination. When the SwapMouseButtons screen appears, quickly click it. Doing this the first couple of times can be tricky because you must remember to click it with the newly activated button. When you get it right, you'll see the screen shown in Figure B.

Figure B
To change the default key, click Setup.

Now, click Setup to display the Setup screen shown in Figure C.

Figure C
You'll set the new key combination here.

To set the new hot key, press the key(s) you want to use. Press each key one at a time. For example, if you wanted the new hot key to be [Ctrl][Shift][F11], you'd first press [Ctrl], then [Shift], and then [F11]. Click Set Hot Key when you're finished.

SwapMouseButtons can also use the special keys found on custom keyboards, like the Microsoft Natural and HP Pavilion. However, the SwapMouseButtons Setup screen won't automatically detect these special keys. Using special keys varies from keyboard to keyboard, but you can follow these directions to find out what works for your particular keyboard.

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