Why does the mouse cursor jump a few pixels if you right-click on the Start button?

Raymond

Some time ago, I noted that mouse cursor jumps a few pixels if you click on the very bottom row of pixels on the taskbar. I noted that this is done to make it possible to click on the very bottom row of pixels, even though they are technically a border, in order to operate on the button immediately above them. Otherwise, the button-down code sees that the mouse is outside the button and cancels the button operation (click or drag).

If you right-click on the Start button, the mouse cursor jumps a few pixels up and to the right. Is this done to solve the same problem?

No, the problem doesn’t apply here because the right mouse button does not have the same cancellation behavior as the left mouse button. There’s a different reason for moving the mouse cursor.

The mouse cursor moves up and to the right so that it is positioned over the last menu item. That way, you can right-click followed by left-click to activate the bottom menu item.

This means that the bottom item on the Start button’s context menu has a special status: It’s the one you can activate quickly by performing a right-click left-click.

14 comments

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  • Mark Richards

    As one of those people who has, since 1995, despised having the start button on the bottom of the screen, I am grateful to the shell team for letting me move it to the side, where on my ultrawide screen it uses up less screen area. But that means that for me the special-status menu item is the one at the top of the right-click menu, which for regular users would be the hardest to reach (Apps and Features). I feel like this particular feature is maybe too undiscoverable? But also I’ve never wanted to move the mouse, click, click again to achieve what WIN+D can do. If only it were “Windows Mobility Center” or one of the things in that menu I use! Still, these little subtle UI tweaks are nice to have and fun to learn about!

  • Brian Boorman

    Having never noticed this I had to try it. Worked. Interesting to know.

    Then I tried the “click bottom of taskbar” and noticed that it did *not* work. It does activate the program icon, but the mouse doesn’t jump up the few pixels. So I clicked back to the referenced blog post and noticed that it’s from 2015. So the behavior of the mouse on the taskbar changed sometime between then and now.

    • Chris Iverson

      I seem to recall this comment, even though it’s no longer visible. IIRC, the mouse move was only visible on Windows 7 when Windows Aero was turned off, and Windows Classic was enabled.

      Maybe it needed desktop composition turned off? I don’t recall the specifics, but it was something like that.

      Anyway, my understanding was the workaround wasn’t needed if Aero/new visual styles were enabled, because the buttons themselves go all the way to the edge, which isn’t the case when they’re disabled.

  • M. W.

    I know of a different but related effect that can be confusing. If you put the cursor at the very bottom of the screen and click anywhere within the horizontal bounds of the notification area/tray, it will send the click to the last tray item that was activated regardless of what X position the cursor is actually at. 🤔

    As for the start-button effect, I’m not seeing it, but that might be because I don’t have a start-button; I remove it with 7+ Taskbar Tweaker. 🤷 (I tried restoring the button but it still didn’t jump; maybe this only works if you’re using a theme and/or Windows 10—I use the Classic Windows non-theme in Windows 7.)

    • Brian Boorman

      That’s not so in Windows 10 (at least in the Enterprise version we use). Clicking on the bottom pixel row in the taskbar region seems to send the click to the notification icon that is immediately above the mouse X position.

  • Entegy

    Sadly, this doesn’t seem to move the cursor enough when the taskbar is on the side of the screen. I am noticing now that the cursor moves to the side by a few pixels, but it also needs to move down a few pixels to reach the top item of the menu.

  • Ray

    Here’s another useless piece of “knowledge” which I saw on every computer having installed Vista and using the Aero theme with enabled transparency.

    If you hover the start button and wait for the “Start” tooltip to appear, it’ll add a “shadow” to the left side behind the taskbar. It’ll go away if you re-hover the button.

    Probably some kind of composition error.

  • Saurabh Shivgunde

    Wow, never noticed this. Just tried it and the pointer positions itself to last menu item.

  • Jonathan BarnerMicrosoft employee

    IMO, this is a hack done at the wrong place. A better solution would be to get the start button to really take all the pixels, including the edge/corner ones, and then there wouldn’t be a need to artificially move the mouse. Fun fact: This was actually done in the Windows XP default “Luna” theme, AKA “Fisher-price theme”.

    • Chris Iverson

      The Start button DOES take all the pixels. Try it yourself. You can slam your mouse all the way to the edge, and still be able to click on the button.

      This “hack” is done to position the mouse inside the popup menu that appears when you right-click on the Start menu, which otherwise would not be aligned, simply due to how popup menus work.

      • Jonathan BarnerMicrosoft employee

        You’re right, my complaint only applies to the pre-Windows XP taskbars (or Windows XP with classic theme), which I still remember.

  • Neil Rashbrook

    Why right-click and left-click when you can double-right-click? (With a few notable exceptions, you can right-click to activate items in context menus.) Of course I never use my desktop so the whole shortcut is wasted on me.

    What I have noticed recently is that the Alt+Tab popup now* steals activation from the current window, which can be distracting depending on how the current application reacts to losing activation.

    *In Windows 10 compared with Windows XP where it does not; I didn’t bother to research exactly when it changed.

  • GL

    I expected the hack to be bleeding off the edge of screen, like maximized windows. 🤔