The dangers of setting your double-click speed too short

Raymond Chen

After I noted how the window manager uses the double-click time as a basis for determining how good your reflexes are, people got all excited about reducing the double-click speed to make Windows feel peppier. But be careful not to go overboard.

Back in the Windows 95 days, we got a bug from a beta tester that went roughly like this:

Title: Double-clicks stop working after using mouse control panel
Reproducibility: Consistent, hardware-independent
Severity: Major loss of functionality

  1. Open the mouse control panel.
  2. Go to the Double-click speed slider.
  3. Drag the slider all the way to the right (fastest).
  4. Click OK.

Result: Mouse double-clicks no longer recognized.

We had to explain to the beta tester that, no, everything is actually working as intended. But if you set the double-click slider to the fastest setting, you had better be good at double-clicking really fast. You have clearly set the double-click speed was faster than you are physically capable of double-clicking. Maybe you can ask your twelve-year-old nephew to do your double-clicking for you.

That’s why there is the test icon next to the slider. Before clicking OK, make sure you can still double-click the test icon. If you can’t, then you picked a setting that’s too fast for your reflexes and you should consider a slower setting.

Pre-emptive Yuhong Bao comment: In Windows 95, the test icon was a jack-in-the-box.

[Raymond is currently away; this message was pre-recorded.]


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