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Andrew P. Black on mouse button colors and the command key
Last updated at 7:24 pm UTC on 7 June 2018

Reasons to prefer to refer to the mouse buttons by a color

From: "Andrew P. Black"
Subject: Re: [BUG][FIX] YellowButtonBit and BlueButtonBit are swapped
Date: Tue, 5 Mar 2002

I also think that we should keep the colors. But fix the bugs ;-)

I like the "arbitrary" nature of the colors. When writing tutorials, it adds a level of indirection, which is actually essential when one is trying to write the tutorial in a platform-independent way.

I put colored labels on my mouse buttons, not so that I know which one to press, but so that when I'm writing directions for others, I write it right. I bring labels into class too. If someone is stuck with a one button mouse, then one can put the blue and yellow labels on the alt/option key and the clover leaf key!

Left middle and right clearly don't work, because most right-handed people now seem to prefer putting yellow on the right, and not inthe middle. And some left-handed people do the opposite. 1, 2, 3 implies an order to me that may not exist. Main, menu and halo are not bad, but imply that the meanings cannot be changed – which of course is not true.

In describing how to use the paragraph editor, I also used the name "command key" to mean the clover-leaf key on a Macintosh keyboards and the alt key on IBM-PC keyboards, so that the wording in the tutorial are platform neutral.