I've tried three different mice and the left click works sometimes but not always e.g. I can't always open something on left click but I usually can if I right click and 'open' - however I can't activate the 'add attachments' button on my email at all. What's causing this - what do I do to put it right. Help!!
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This may be obvious, but it doesn't hurt to post it.
The "double-click" rate is separate from the single-click detection issue, and from your description, it sounds like it is only the "double-click" aspect that introduces the problem. (in other words, single left-clicks work OK?). Assuming this is the case...
The "double-click" rate on the buttons can be varied by the user. Depending on the setting, it can be difficult to get the timing "just right" to make it consistent. I often have trouble finding the right setting for me when I first setup a computer.
The mouse response can also be affected by resource hogging applications, so that can make it seem work reliably at some times and make it difficult to use at other times.
There should be a setting to adjust the "double-click" rate for your mouse, and a test button.
Set it something you can reliably use.
However, if it is both the single and double-click responses that cause your problem, then you may have either a faulty mouse, or the plastic switch linking mechanism design may not be reliable. I've found that some mice switches work fine only as long as you place your finger in a precise location on the plastic switch. If you move your finger to another point on the switch, you can still HEAR a click, but the actual electronic switch inside the mouse isn't affected when you "click" it. That can be due to materials aging or poor mouse design.
edited to include:
Mouse switches that depend on where your finger is located on the switch are not that uncommon. Probably 50% of the mice in my zoo have that characteristic (where you can hear a mechanical click, but the electronic switch isn't actually articulated) It's worse on some than others.
Thanks for the ideas guys, much appreciated. I've tried the single click v's double click thing and it definitely fails on quite a few single click tasks so it isn't the timing between double clicks. I've also tried moving my finger all over the left button and using different pressures but when it won't work it won't work however I press the button. I recently added iTunes software and it is a fairly new PC but the left click used to work on everything at first - I can't really remember when it stopped or if it's failure coincided with any other event. I have reasonably good anti-virus/anti-spyware/firewall/etc. So to summarise up to now the left click works on some things but not on others. Things it fails on includes: add attachments' on my e mail / some hyperlinks within e mails (eg the links in your posted messages to me) / some images which are supposed to enlarge when you click on them / some links in menus of links on various web sites). The most annoying bit is the attachments disability because right clicking does not present a solution so I can't add attachments at the moment. Please keep trying - I really appreciate it!
That it seems application/process specific does appear to be unusual, but that does help suggest it might be a performance issue...the system is too busy/swamped while doing certain things to "see" the mouse. You might try running system32\perfmon and see what else is going on.
Here are some other ideas, although given what you've described I don't see that these are likely related to your problem.
If you are using USB port connected mice, try moving it to a higher-priority USB port.
Have you tried using a PS/2 connected mouse? Or, if you're using a PS/2 mouse, try a USB mouse. (basically anything to get away from the input port you've been using)
Sometimes, even if a USB2.x device claims to be 100% downwards compatible, it may not be (for various technical reasons) If your mice are USB2.x have you made sure they are connected to a USB2.x port? Similarly, if your mice are USB1.x, have they been connected to a USB1.x port? If not, these can result in lost data in some instances, and it might appear as the same function failing consistently as any protocol glitches/violations would be more likely to be repeated.
If you are using a USB-to-PS/2 or a PS/2-to-USB mouse adapter it might be the source of the problem.
If your mice are being plugged into a Multi-port Memory Card Reader USB port, use a different port. The memory card ports usually have an added driver installed to ID them as removable drives and assign them quasi-permanent disk volume letters, etc. This could have an adverse affect on non-storage USB devices.