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What Do the Side Buttons on a Mouse Do?


Mouses are an essential computer input device used for navigating on any computer. The right button, left button, and scrolling wheel are standard on a mouse. But in addition to these buttons, some mice, particularly gaming mice, come with side buttons. If you are new to this type of mouse, you might wonder, what do the buttons on the side of a mouse do? 

Quick Answer

Generally, the side buttons on a mouse are used to assign a function or macro. In other words, you can assign tasks to the button to make operating your computer or software easier. Hence, you can use the side button on your mouse to navigate your browser, play games, or do general operations like cutting or pasting.   

Mouses with side buttons often have two buttons, but some can come with up to seven or even eight. These buttons can be very helpful when scrolling through a giant list or a lengthy web page. Or you can use it while gaming, depending on what you assign.

There are many things these side buttons can do, and in this article, we will walk you through some of them and how to activate them. 

What Kind of Function Can You Assign to the Side Button on a Mouse

The side button of your gaming mouse has a lot of functions. You can use it when playing a game, or you can use it to perform your day-to-day activities on your PC. This list below tells you what kind of functions the side button of your mouse can do.

Here’s what you can use your gaming mouse side buttons to do (general operations).

  • Opening new tab.
  • Closing of a browser tab.
  • Volume up navigation.
  • Volume down navigation.
  • Switching of tabs.
  • Opening an app.
  • Pause or play music.
  • Print full screen.
  • Perform an operation that uses many keys on the keyboard (macro operation).
  • Gaming.

How To Assign a Macro or Function to the Side Button on a Mouse

Sequences of events (such as mouse clicks, keystrokes, and delays) that can be recorded and played back later to help perform some repetitive tasks are known as macros. They are also used to replay sequences that are long or difficult. You can assign a recorded macro to a mouse button. So to use the side button on a mouse, you need to register the macro to it using any of these methods.

Method #1: Using the Control Panel 

The Control Panel is there to assist you in viewing and changing system settings. One of the Control Panel functions is assigning a macro to the side button. Though some third-party apps can help you assign the macro to the side button in case you intend to use your control panel to record a macro on your gaming mouse. 

Here’s how to assign a macro to the side button on a mouse using the Control Panel.

  1. Click on Start, then select the Control Panel.
  2. Click “Mouse”.
  3. Click on the “Buttons” tab.
  4. Click on the box under the assignment button.
  5. Click the function you want to assign to that button on your mouse. 
  6. Repeat these above steps to assign functions to each button you want.
  7. Click “Apply”.
  8. Select “OK” and close the Control Panel.

Method #2: Using Intellipoint 

The driver software that Microsoft branded for Microsoft hardware mice is known as the Microsoft IntelliPoint. With the help of this IntelliPort driver software introduced above, you can assign a function to the buttons of a gaming mouse. You can also record a macro using more advanced IntelliType and IntelliPoint. 

Here’s how to assign a macro to the side button on a mouse using Intellipoint.

  1. Make sure you are using a connected mouse from your “Buttons” tab.
  2. Select “Macro”, and the Macro Editor display will open.
  3. Click on “New” and add a new macro.
  4. Type the name of the macro in a new file name box.
  5. Select the “Editor” box and then select your macros.
  6. Click on “Save”.

Method #3: Using SteerMouse on a Mac PC 

There are several amazing apps you can use to assign functions or macros to the side button on a mouse with a Mac; one particular app is called SteerMouse. And just like how IntelliPort gives macro, SteerMouse selects macro for mouse buttons. Other apps you can use to assign macros to the side buttons on a mouse include ControllerMate and USBOverdrive

Here’s how to assign macro to the side button on a mouse using SteerMouse.

  1. Download and install the SteerMouse on your Mac. 
  2. Launch the app, which automatically detects your USB mouse. 
  3. On the first page, you should see all the buttons on your mouse. Click on a button and select the action you want; press “OK”.
  4. Set an action for each button on your mouse and save the settings.  
Keep in Mind

The number of buttons on a mouse depends on the mouse you use. As stated above, it might be around 7-8 or, at most, 17 buttons.


The side buttons are beneficial, whether a regular mouse or a gaming mouse. You have an extra edge in game performance when you use your mouse side buttons. When you are not playing games, it also eases your day-to-day tasks. 

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