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Making Better Use of the Right-mouse Button in ZWCAD

September 13, 2010

Many CAD systems use the command line to make drawings. This was especially true in early versions of software, when the keyboard played a more important role than it does today.



In ZWCAD, for example, the Space or Enter key can be used for ending commands and for restarting the last-used command. For example, you run the Line command, specify the first and second points with the mouse, and then you typically press Space or Enter to end the command. To begin drawing another line right away, you again press Space or Enter.



With the ongoing improvement in user interfaces, however, the command line is no longer as irreplaceable as it once was. In its place, the mouse increasingly plays a more important role in drawing and editing with CAD.



For example, did you ever notice that right mouse button can do the same work as the Space and Enter keys? Normally, pressing the right mouse button in a blank area of drawing displays a shortcut menu; right-clicking instead an entity brings up a content-sensitive menu that provides you with a fast way to modify your drawings easily.



As illustrated by figure 1, the shortcut menu lists the last-used command as the first item on the menu. You can click it to repeat the command; in addition, you can use the Recent Input submenu to select additional recently-used commands.




But these are still not the fastest ways! You can change some settings in ZWCAD to make the right mouse button even more personalized and efficient. Here’s how to do this:


1. From the Tools menu, choose Options. (Alternatively, you can enter the Options command on the keyboard.)

2. In the Options dialog box, choose the User Preferences tab. See figure 2.

3. Click the Right-click Customization button.



4. Notice that the Right-click Customization dialog box contains many advanced settings, as illustrated by figure 3 below. Here are the settings I suggest that you can have a try:

a. Click the Turn on time-sensitive right-click option; a green check mark should appear, confirming that the option is turned on. This option allows you to specify that different click durations should execute different operations:

  • A quick right-click now means Enter to ZWCAD. You could use it to exit commands and to repeat the last command.
  • A longer right-click displays the shortcut menu, as before.

b. You can define the duration of the long click; the default is 250 milliseconds, which is a quarter of a second. Test the operation in a ZWCAD drawing; if you find the duration too long or too short, come back to this dialog box and change the duration.



5. Click Apply & Close to exit the dialog boxes.



With the time-sensitive right-click option set, you can make it behave as Enter on a short click and perform its standard function on a long click. This makes efficient use of the right-click button, because it now combines two functions onto one button.



You may not be used to this change when you first start to try it. You may find that every time you want to show the shortcut menu, you just click the right-mouse button quickly, and it executes the last command instead. But once you get used to this new setting, you will find drawing and editing becomes more efficient, because you don’t need to press Space or Enter any more. All you do is right-click, left-click, move, left-click, … and right-click at last.



So we can simply call it the “All in One mouse button

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