Mouse buttons are microswitches which can be pressed ("clicked") in order to select or interact with an element of a graphical user interface.
The three-button scrollmouse has become the most commonly available design. As of 2007 (and roughly since the late 1990s), users most commonly employ the second button to invoke a contextual menu in the computer's software user interface, which contains options specifically tailored to the interface element over which the mouse cursor currently sits. By default, the primary mouse button sits located on the left-hand side of the mouse, for the benefit of right-handed users; left-handed users can usually reverse this configuration via software.
The computer industry often measures mouse sensitivity in terms of counts per inch (CPI), commonly expressed incorrectly as dots per inch (DPI) – the number of steps the mouse will report when it moves one inch. In early mice, this specification was called pulses per inch (ppi). If the default mouse-tracking condition involves moving the cursor by one screen-pixel or dot on-screen per reported step, then the CPI does equate to DPI: dots of cursor motion per inch of mouse motion. The CPI or DPI as reported by manufacturers depends on how they make the mouse; the higher the CPI, the faster the cursor moves with mouse movement. However, software can adjust the mouse sensitivity, making the cursor move faster or slower than its CPI. Current[update] software can change the speed of the cursor dynamically, taking into account the mouse's absolute speed and the movement from the last stop-point. In most software this setting is named "speed", referring to "cursor precision". However, some software names this setting "acceleration", but this term is in fact incorrect. The mouse acceleration, in the majority of mouse software, refers to the setting allowing the user to modify the cursor acceleration: the change in speed of the cursor over time while the mouse movement is constant.
For simple software, when the mouse starts to move, the software will count the number of "counts" received from the mouse and will move the cursor across the screen by that number of pixels (or multiplied by a rate factor, typically less than 1). The cursor will move slowly on the screen, having a good precision. When the movement of the mouse passes the value set for "threshold", the software will start to move the cursor more quickly, with a greater rate factor. Usually, the user can set the value of the second rate factor by changing the "acceleration" setting.Operating systems sometimes apply acceleration, referred to as "ballistics", to the motion reported by the mouse. For example, versions of Windows prior to Windows XP doubled reported values above a configurable threshold, and then optionally doubled them again above a second configurable threshold. These doublings applied separately in the X and Y directions, resulting in very nonlinear response.