LMB vs RMB select... misunderstanding or misuse?


  • I don’t want to start a flame war here or indulge some kind of preconception of functionality, or indeed launch some kind of infighting amongst Blender/<other 3d app> users. These are my current thoughts and are subject to change at will. I intend no animosity between styles or conflict between implimentations. I desire merely a discussion to satisfy what must be of interest to others.


  • It is my honest opinion that far too few applications make use of the fact that in general humans have more than one finger.

  • The unfortunate single-button mouse has thankfully been superceded by far more usable technology (my current mouse has 5 buttons that I use regularly and another 2 that see occasional use… spot the gamer :confused:).

  • Why does everything have to happen on a left-click? Why is right-click only seldom used? I have pretty much the same command over my index finger and my middle finger, so why should the middle finger be condemned to idleness in the vast majority of software while digging through menus using the tired index finger is so common?

  • This is where I think the genius of Blender shines. Left-mouse is for doing stuff, right-mouse is for selecting stuff (this is something that imho should be pointed out before someone new to Blender even opens the application). In any reasonable development pipeline there is a substantial amount of both selecting and doing. What’s the big problem with splitting the tasks between two equally capable fingers?

  • I must say that I have very slight experience of other applications (sucks that Maya PLE is discontinued, my version is badly outdated), but the trend seems to be left-mouse for pretty much all selecting and acting, and then digging through menus and toolbars for options using the left-mouse again. Digging for options usually seems to involve ignoring the right-mouse button (except maybe the occasional bringing up of a menu that uses the left button to select stuff from :spin:) and then tunneling down through the options with the well-exercised and quite-athletic-becoming index finger. It’s almost as if some alien species is training the entire of humanity to become a single-digit organism.


  • I would not mind at all more separation of LMB and RMB rather than moving towards LMB for everything or switching to LMB-select and conducting the serious business with RMB as so many prefer. I admit that LMB is more tactile, but surely the tactile operations are doing stuff rather than selecting stuff.

  • I have a great respect for the Blender Foundation in maintaining the separation between LMB and RMB. It might not work with all applications, but surely at least those 3d artists with carpel tunnel syndrome will understand the sensibility of it.


  • I’d like to encourage people to question the logic of having two fingers on mouse buttons at all times and yet using one of those buttons only 5% of the time (at most?).

  • I hope this rant hasn’t seemed to be a pro-Blender rant so much as an anti-status-quo rant. I am not picking fault with proprietary 3d software, but with the whole established consensus of Microsoft-driven softwares.

  • I’m currently running Windows 7 so I can’t be accused of being a Linux fanboy either. I just hate the unimaginative status-quo and appreciate the deviance of Blender. :smiley:

As an old school one-button mac mouse user, I agree. Buttons are good.

For me the logic of your argument is based on assumptions…

1: that were’re using a mouse to input…
2: that the mouse has more than one button.

point 2 is interesting as Jay notes: old school one button mac mouse…
The mac had the first commercially successful gui… and for years dominated graphics and desktop publishing… it’s not surprising that “exotic” multi button mice are not the norm for primary input… historical legacy is a powerful thing and people fight change.

as for point 1: personally I can’t use a mouse for more than about a minute without extreme pain in my wrist…

So I use a graphics tablet… which I can use all day everyday with no discomfort… or a trackball… which has only two buttons, but less comfortable to use button2… the trouble with graphics tablets though is that left click is perfect, right and middle mouse much much less so…

MOI makes a big sales feature that it is designed to work primarily on a graphic tablet making it extremely left click centric…

The current trend is towards touch based interfaces… we’re all getting comfortable with the two fingered rotate and zoom gestures on our phones/touchscreens/whatever… Once learned it’s arguable that that will provide a much much better interface than the three button mouse… we’ll see I guess…

As a tablet user, I also agree with Mike- altho the pen buttons also lead to some discomfort

I like rmb select because I feel it’s more precise, I guess is the word. Honestly, depending on what I’m doing in Blender, mouse or tablet can be the best tool.

@Michael W: I understand completely the points that you make. I have an old Wacom Graphire 3 that I use in tandem with the mouse. I find it great that I can set left-click to the pen tip and right-click to the button that rests naturally under my thumb when holding the pen. The thumb button selects stuff and then I am free to use the pen-touch to manipulate my selection, although in a tablet-only workflow I can see the possible benefits from doing everything with the pen tip.

As to historical legacy… This hits precisely on the point that I’m trying to make about the Microsoft-established way. Legacy is good, legacy is great, but is legacy really the best way to move forwards? Your comments about touch-based interfaces ring true with respect to the challenges of legacy. The potential is certainly large. However, I can cope with wiping greasy finger marks off my small phone screen every 10 minutes and I’ll replace my scratched phone every year, but do I really want to wipe down my monitor every few minutes or replace my monitor every year? Also, I really like being able to move my mouse pointer the whole way across the screen by moving my hand 2 inches (~50mm) whilst resting my elbow on a support, and would resent having to wave my arms in front of me for hours to move things about on a screen.

Personally, I think that many technologies are over-hyped and I believe that touch-screens are one of them. The potential is huge for people who rarely use technology and for small-scale applications but, for those who make regular use of computer interfaces, waving arms about all day to move things about on a screen will imo never compare to moving a mouse (or a stylus on a tablet) by a couple of inches.

Your comments are very well presented and encourage further thought. :slight_smile:

@(jay): I took my time writing this post so missed yours unitl after I posted. I agree that certain tasks favour certain tools. :wink:

… but unless you are a trained pianist or similar you probably don’t have as much command over your fourth (ring) finger, which is what operates the RMB on a three-button or two-button+scrollwheel mouse.

Best wishes,

isnt rmb more the third finger?

The reason for LMB promenence is more to do with ergonomics than Legacy reasons or Microsoft. Generally when people point at something or push a button they will use their index finger to do so. Some people even right click using their index finger.

The advantage of doing things that way is it’s relatively natural and rather than being tied up trying to learn how to click the button, you can focus on learning what the button does. Even within Blender it mostly follows that way - Most windows and buttons in the interface are all still LMB to select. The 3D view is the only really notable place that is different.

I swap the buttons since I prefer select on the Left like all the rest of the menus but I like Blender’s way for the select/action thing where you can just cancel by hitting the opposing button and stuff like that because it’s quick. What I don’t like is the 3D cursor being bound to a mouse button. It just simply isn’t frequently used enough to give it a mouse button (nevermind the most used one on the entire system). It’d be like Firefox making LMB pop up the History pane or something.

1.) You can’t overlook the fact that many programs are designed for or at least give the option for one hand on the mouse and one hand on the keyboard for hotkeys(especially blender) and moving and strafing in games. This means many more buttons than just one or two. In general its a lot easier and faster to control a few functions with one hand and a few with the other than to do everything with one.

2.)Standardization is important. PCs need all the standardization they can get. There is nothing worse than buying a ati card and the next cool gpu enabled program uses cuda. Now start doing that with something as basic as a mouse and it will only drive away more people. Imagine buying a game and finding out that you need a 10 mouse button instead of your old 6 mouse button.

3.)I think programmers assume the average person is too dumb to figure things out(not to far off, I can’t express how happy I am that Blender isn’t dumbied down, longer to learn but faster workflow when you do)so things need to be consistent across multiple programs and platforms. When you put your hand on a mouse you have a pretty good idea what its going to do in any program.

5.)You can just map keys to your five mouse button anyway.

4.)Maybe programmers just think that most people just have one finger since that’s what they see most of the time, especially when driving:).

Like xrg, I think left should be select and right should bring up a menu pane or something like you would expect in most other programs(I’m a windows user). I think the 3d cursor just needs to go away but that’s a personal preference. Another option would be to have the 3d cursor be like any other selectable object.

I definitely agree that touch screen are over-hyped in some areas. I find them awkward enough for phones so I can’t imagine for PCs, though at the the end of a marathon blend session your legs might be atrophied but your arms would be huge. Also touch screens are only as accurate as the object touching them and unless you are using a stylus/pen your finger is just too big. Even then your hand would just get in the way of what your looking at. Good alternative for those with joint and tendon issues though.