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How to Right-Click on a Mac: 4 Quick Methods

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Last updated: September 6, 2023

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Are you a new Mac user struggling to figure out how to right-click on your Mac? Or you’ve been using your Mac for a while but still find it challenging to use the trackpad or keyboard shortcuts to right-click.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share different methods of right-clicking on a Mac. Did you know there’s more than one way to right-click on a Mac? That’s right! I’ve shared everything below, so let’s get started.

What are Two Types of Right-Clicking?

Many people struggle with understanding how to right-click on a Mac. But before learning to do it, you should know there are two types of right-clicking on Mac.

Below, I’ve explained both types of right clicks on Mac.

1. Physical Right Click

If you’re using a Mac mouse or a trackpad that supports multi-touch gestures, you can perform a physical right-click by pressing the right side of the mouse or trackpad. This is similar to the right-click functionality on a PC.

For example, right-click a file or folder and you’ll see options to rename, duplicate, and move to trash.

right click a folder on mac

2. Contextual Menu

Mac computers also offer a contextual menu that you can access by holding down the Control ^ key on your keyboard while simultaneously clicking the mouse or trackpad. This method emulates the right-click functionality even if your mouse or trackpad does not have a physical right-click button.

For example, if you right-click on a web page in Safari, you will see options to reload the page, open a new tab, and more.

right click a safari tab

How to Enable and Customize Right-Click on Mac

Before you can right-click on Mac, you need to enable this option in your System Settings. You can also customize the right-click option to improve your productivity and make your Mac experience more efficient.

Here’s how you to enable right-clicking on your Mac:

  1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click Trackpad or Mouse, depending on your input device.
click trackpad in system settings
  1. Click the drop-down menu next to Secondary Click.
select the drop down menu next to secondary click
  1. Choose a desired option from the list.
select click or tap with two fingers

This will enable right-click on your Mac.

Now, follow these steps to enable the contextual menu on your Mac:

  1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click Trackpad or Mouse, depending on your input device.
click trackpad in system settings
  1. Toggle on the the Force Click and haptic feedback option.
toggle on force click and haptic feedback option

This will enable the contextual menu, so when your click your trackpad and press it firmly for a few seconds, it will open a context menu.

context menu on mac

Now, you can move on to customizing the secondary click on your Mac. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click Trackpad or Mouse, depending on your input device.
click trackpad in system settings
  1. Click the Point & Click tab.
click the point click tab
  1. Here, you can customize the right click options, such as the click pressure, click speed, and pointer speed.
customize the secondary click and contextual menu options

4 Methods to Right-Click on Mac

Mac computers have several ways to perform a right-click. The most common ways include using a trackpad, mouse, and keyboard shortcuts. Each method has its benefits, and the method you choose depends on your preference and task.

Let’s explore each method in detail below.

1. Using the Trackpad

Using the trackpad to right-click on Mac is a convenient option, especially if you prefer gestures over buttons. The trackpad supports multi-touch gestures, making it easy to right-click with just two fingers.

To right-click on Mac using the trackpad, follow these steps:

a. Two-Finger Tap on the Trackpad

  1. Use your finger to move the cursor to the location of the item you want to right-click.
  2. Once the cursor is positioned, lightly tap the trackpad with two fingers simultaneously. It should open the contextual menu.
mac trackpad secondary click
  1. Use your finger to navigate the menu and select the desired option. You can also close the menu by tapping outside the menu area.

This method will only work if you have selected Click or Tap with Two Fingers option in Secondary click under Trackpad settings.

select click or tap with two fingers

b. Right-Click a Corner of the Trackpad

You can also use a designated area on your trackpad to right-click on your Mac. But to do that, you need to enable it first. Here are the steps to set up a designated right-click button in the corner of the trackpad on a Mac:

  1. Click the Apple menu and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Click Trackpad or Mouse, depending on your input device.
click trackpad in system settings
  1. Click the drop-down menu next to Secondary Click.
select the drop down menu next to secondary click
  1. From the drop-down menu, choose Click in Bottom-Right Corner or Click in Bottom-Left Corner based on your preference for the designated right-click corner.
select click in bottom right corner or click in bottom left corner

Now, when you want to perform a right-click, follow these steps:

  1. Place your finger in the corner of the trackpad that you designated as the right-click corner (bottom right or bottom left).
  2. Click down on the trackpad in that corner, applying slight pressure.
  3. The right-click menu will appear on your screen, allowing you to select the desired options.

c. With Thumb While Making Contact With Two Fingers

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to perform a right-click on a Mac trackpad by clicking with your thumb while making contact with two fingers:

  1. Position your index finger on the trackpad as you normally would for cursor movement.
  2. Keep your thumb positioned near the trackpad, ready to perform the right-click.
  3. Move your middle finger down next to your index finger, making sure it also touches the surface of the trackpad.
  4. With your middle finger and thumb now in contact with the trackpad, press down on the trackpad with your thumb.
  5. As you press down with your thumb, maintain contact with the middle finger and trackpad surface.
  6. The combination of your thumb’s click and the contact of two fingers on the trackpad will initiate a right-click.
  7. Release the pressure from your thumb to complete the right-click action.

By clicking with your thumb while making contact with two fingers, you can perform a right-click without moving your index finger or changing your hand position significantly. This method minimizes the amount of movement required from your standard mousing-and-clicking posture, allowing for a more efficient right-click action on the trackpad.

2. Using a Mouse

Using a mouse to right-click on a Mac is particularly useful if you’re used to using a traditional desktop or laptop computer with a mouse. It’s especially convenient if you use your Mac for tasks such as graphic design or video editing, where the ability to right-click and access contextual menus quickly can greatly improve workflow efficiency.

To right-click using a mouse on a Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Position the cursor over the item you want to right-click.
  2. Click the right button on your mouse. If your mouse only has one button, hold down the Control key on your keyboard while clicking the mouse button.
macbook pro control key
  1. A contextual menu will appear next to the cursor, showing various options for the selected item.
  2. Click the option you want to select from the contextual menu.

3. Using Keyboard Shortcuts

Using keyboard shortcuts for right-clicking is helpful if you face difficulty using a mouse or trackpad due to physical limitations or disabilities. It is also useful if you frequently use keyboard-based applications and need quick access to right-click functionality.

Here’s how to use keyboard for right-clicking:

  1. Position the cursor over the item you want to right-click.
  2. Press and hold down the Control key on the keyboard.
  1. While holding down the Control key, click the left mouse or touchpad button to open the contextual menu.
  2. Choose the desired option from the menu by using the arrow keys on the keyboard to navigate the menu options and then press the Enter key to select.

4. Using Magic Mouse

The Magic Mouse is a wireless mouse designed and produced by Apple Inc. It is a popular input device among Mac users due to its sleek design and multi-touch features, including the ability to right-click.

To right-click on a Mac using a Magic Mouse, follow these steps:

  1. Position the cursor over the item you want to right-click.
  2. Tap the right side of the Magic Mouse with one finger or lightly press down on the right side of the mouse. It will register as a secondary click and open the contextual menu.
magic mouse secondary click
  1. Choose the desired option from the contextual menu.

If the above method doesn’t work, you may need to enable right-clicking on your Magic Mouse. To do this:

  1. Go to the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen and select System Settings.
click the apple icon and select system settings
  1. Select Mouse in System Settings.
  2. Select the Secondary Click option.
  3. From the dropdown menu, choose Click the Right Side.
  4. Close the window and test the right-click function again.

Bonus Method: Right-Click on a Mac With Force Touch Trackpad

If you have a Mac with a Force Touch trackpad, you can use the Force Touch feature to perform a right-click. However, you must enable the Force Click and haptic feedback in Trackpad settings for this option to work.

toggle on force click and haptic feedback option

Follow these steps to right-click on a Mac with Force Touch trackpad:

  1. Place your index finger on the trackpad as you normally would for cursor movement.
  2. Apply slightly more pressure than usual with your finger on the trackpad. You should feel a slight “click” or haptic feedback.
  3. Maintain the increased pressure on the trackpad for a brief moment.
  4. Release the pressure from the trackpad.
  5. The increased pressure and subsequent release will trigger a right-click action on your Mac.

The Force Touch technology in the trackpad detects the pressure level applied and interprets it as a right-click command. This method allows you to perform a right-click without the need for additional finger gestures or using the Control ^ key.

The availability and functionality of the Force Touch feature may vary depending on your Mac model and macOS version. Ensure your Mac supports Force Touch and that the feature is enabled in your trackpad settings.

Final Words

You can right-click on a Mac in multiple ways, and it is essential to know these methods to increase your productivity and efficiency. Here are some more tips to further enhance your productivity:

  • Just like a right-click, using Mac keyboard shortcuts can save you time and effort by providing quick access to the actions you use the most.
  • Sometimes, you may be unable to use the right-click feature if your Mac trackpad is not working properly. Learn how to fix this issue to keep using your Mac flawlessly.
  • Having an unclean computer can cause obstructions with your trackpad functionality. Learn how to clean up your Mac physically and digitally to keep it squeaky clean and avoid performance problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do I right-click on a Macbook with only one button?

    To right-click on a Macbook with only one button, hold down the Control ^ key on the keyboard while clicking the trackpad or mouse button. It will bring up the contextual menu, allowing you to choose the desired option.

  2. Why can’t I see the option to enable right-clicking in the Trackpad or Mouse settings?

    If you can’t see the option to enable right-clicking in the Trackpad or Mouse settings, it may be because your Mac does not support right-clicking. You can use other methods to right-click on Mac. 

  3. Can I customize the options in the contextual menu?

    Yes, you can customize options in the contextual menu by using Automator or third-party apps. I don’t recommend third-party apps. In the Automator, you can create a new service, add the desired actions or scripts, and then save it. It’ll be accessible in the contextual menu to right-click on Mac. 

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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