How to Right-Click on a Mac (with Photos)

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How to Right-Click on a Mac (with Photos)

After switching from a Windows PC to a Mac, it is normal to wonder how you right-click. Apple infamously made the decision to get rid of the right click. However, if you have a mouse with two buttons, the right one will still work as you would expect. Unfortunately, this hasn’t done much to stop the confusion, as many users still get lost with the lack of a right button.

Further adding confusion is that Apple trackpads do not have a dividing line or anything to signify where you should click. Even worse is that Apple’s Magic Mouse doesn’t have any buttons on it, which is even more ambiguous. There are several ways you can right-click on a Mac, depending on whether you are using a trackpad or a mouse.

Right-Click with Control Button

The most universal way to right-click on a Mac is actually by holding the Control key while clicking the mouse or trackpad. This method will work regardless of what kind of mouse or trackpad you are using, meaning it will work even with a third-party mouse.

If you are using third-party accessories, remember that the Control button on a Mac is different than the one on a Windows keyboard. If you do use a keyboard that is designed for Windows, then you will actually need to press the Alt key.

right click on mac
You can right-click by left-clicking on the trackpad and pressing the Control button.


Right-Click with a Magic Mouse

Apple’s Magic Mouse does not have any buttons like a traditional mouse would. Instead, it relies on touch gestures, just like the trackpads found on MacBooks. However, they can sense a right “click,” and it functions as any other mouse would.

If your Mac doesn’t recognize a right-click on a Magic Mouse, then you may need to assign it a function. To do this, go to System Preferences and then Mouse. On this page, there is a Point & Click option that you can select and then choose Click next to the secondary click option on the right side.

apple magic mouse
Apple’s magic mouse can also be used to right-click.

©Stefan Holm/Shutterstock.com

Right-Click with a Regular Mouse

This may sound a little obvious to some, but you can also use a regular mouse with any Mac device. Any standard mouse with a right-click button will function as expected on a Mac. This is by far the simplest route if you already use a third-party mouse.

right click on mac
Or, you can use a regular mouse to right-click — this one will be easy!


Right-Click with Two Fingers

Trackpads on MacBooks utilize multi-touch gestures to accept a range of more advanced inputs. This allows you to scroll or even zoom in with just a trackpad. The problem is that there are no traditional buttons like most other laptop manufacturers use.

The default method to right-click on a MacBook is by clicking with two fingers. If your MacBook doesn’t automatically recognize the gesture, then you may have to add it under Trackpad Preferences, which is in the Trackpad section of System Preferences.

Assign Right-Click Gesture

Alternatively, you can choose between a range of different touch gestures to recognize as a secondary click. As mentioned above, go to System Preferences and then select Trackpad on the menu. Finally, choose Trackpad Preferences and then select what you want to set as the secondary click.

right click on mac
Setting up a secondary click on your trackpad is simple, too — go to System Preferences, then Trackpad, and by Secondary click, select your desired gesture.


What Does Right-Clicking Do?

A right-click on a Mac computer does essentially the same thing as a Windows PC. The most common use of the right-click button is to open a menu for a select task. For instance, you can right-click a file or icon, and a menu with numerous functions will open. Certain applications also have their own functionality for the right-click button. Similarly, some games also use the input for extra controls.

Why Don’t Macs Have a Right Click Button?

Apple doesn’t have a right-click button on their devices primarily for aesthetic reasons. They could easily include traditional buttons on their devices, but instead, they have chosen to go with a more minimalist design. Also, the addition of touch gestures on their devices means they can do far more than they could with conventional buttons.

In addition, Apple’s Magic Mouse does recognize input from a right-click. It is also included with the iMac but not with the Mac Mini. Therefore, MacBooks are the only devices that do not have a right-click button. In addition, the trackpads on MacBooks do not have a separate right-click button and require a multi-touch gesture or the use of the Control button.


Switching from a PC to a Mac can be a bit confusing, but the two share many similarities. The ability to right-click on a Mac is just one example of shared functionalities between the two operating systems. One could argue that removing the buttons on a mouse or trackpad is simply the next step in the evolving world of computer technology.

Even though the decision to remove the traditional buttons was for design purposes, it makes sense to add new technology to pointing devices. Computer mice and trackpads remained largely unchanged for many years, so adding touch gestures adds a wide range of new possibilities for quick maneuverability.

Check out the video below to learn more about right-clicking on a Mac.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Macs use a right-click?

Macs do use a right click function, they just don’t have a traditional button for it.

What is a secondary click?

A secondary click is what is commonly referred to as a right-click. Meaning, it is a secondary function to the primary, which is a left-click.

Does Apple have a mouse?

Apple does have a mouse, the Apple Mouse. It does not have traditional buttons, but it can recognize a right-click input.

Is there a difference between a Windows and Mac mouse?

No, a mouse works the same on both Windows and Mac devices, unlike a keyboard.

What does the Control button do on a Mac keyboard?

The Control button on a Mac does the same function as the ALT button on a Windows keyboard. But, it can also be used to right-click by holding it while left-clicking.

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