How to Middle-Click (Properly) in the Mac BASh

I have been using a three-button scroll mouse ever since I started using Linux systems back in 1999. Don’t get me wrong, my previous Windows systems did technically have three-button scroll mice, but I wasn’t really using that third button. However, in BASh and in Linux systems in general you can perform the entire copy and paste cycle by merely highlighting some text and then middle-clicking where you want that text to go. Comparing this to the right-click ——> click Copy then right-click ——> click Paste, this is a saving of three clicks. Over the course of the day that’s a big savings.

Now, Mac runs BASh as its shell. It’s mostly there, only hobbled slightly. This middle-click ought to work except the Mac OS hijacks the middle-click of the mouse to jump to the Dashboard. To me this is useless. In part because I don’t really see much value in the Dashboard, but also in part because you can at any time pull up the Dashboard using the f12 key (fn + f12) or even put an icon in your Dock.

If you, like me, would rather have your middle-click in your shell there is a somewhat unobvious way to get there. (I’m running Mt Lion so your exact method may vary slightly.)

In System Preferences select Mission Control (about the middle of the top row called Personal). In Mission Control’s panel look near the bottom for “Show Dashboard:” and see the drop-down menu which presumably reads “Middle Mouse Button”. Change that to read “—”.

Once that is done you will be able to highlight some text in a terminal and middle-click to paste that text at your cursor position. Unfortunately this won’t make it work across applications (which it does in Ubuntu for instance), but it will help some.

We do what we are able.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *