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I currently use Linux as my primary desktop OS, and have done for more years than I care to remember. In recent years I've settled on GNOME and XFCE as my environments of choice.

For a number of reasons (pressure to use AD-based resources, better availability of supported software, etc) I am contemplating a switch to Windows 7 as my primary OS, but there are a few parts of my Unix-like environment I'd struggle to move away from after all these years, mostly related to mouse behaviour. What I want to know is -- can I make Windows 7 give me these same behaviours, and make the migration more comfortable?

  • focus follows mouse -- I move my mouse cursor into a window, it gets focus until I move the mouse into another one. I click, it comes to the front. I start typing, the cursor hides. This makes me very happy -- I could live with the window losing focus when the mouse leaves (rather than when it enters another), i.e. without sloppy focus, but FFM is just how my brain works now.

  • select to copy, middle click paste -- having to use menus or keyboard shortcuts to copy and paste is probably the single most antagonising thing for me when temporarily using a Windows machine. I buy laptops with middle mouse buttons above the trackpad (for use with a trackpoint), for this exact purpose, although the mouse scrollwheel works too. Can Windows be made to support this? Some applications get close (PuTTY has select to copy, right click to paste, IIRC) but scroll-click's behaviour seems to vary across applications.

I've no great hate for modern Windows, I switched away in the earlyish XP days (before SP2) and use it often enough to support 40ish colleagues who use XP or 7 on their desktops all day long, but I find these UI issues just annoying enough to slow me down when e.g. coding. Frustrating, when I mostly want to switch OS to get access to better selection of programmer's editors and IDEs!

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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You're looking for True X-Mouse:

http://fy.chalmers.se/~appro/nt/TXMouse/

X11 is better for fingers. 
Copy with mouse. 
Paste with mouse. 
Focus without clicks. 
Raise and lower windows. 
So called X-Mouse. 
One and only... True X-Mouse Gizmo. 

It works flawlessly on XP.

I'm having some issues on Windows 7 but I believe it's a conflict with some other app. It works very well for the most part.

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2 years on, I never did make the full time migration and I'm back using Ubuntu, but this appears to be exactly what I'd have been after - so thanks :-) –  James Green Oct 22 '13 at 19:08
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Control Panel->Ease of Access->Change How Your Mouse Works->Activate a window by hovering over it with the mouse

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Ha, excellent. Feel a bit silly asking now. The copy/paste thing is more crucial though. –  James Green Dec 7 '11 at 15:51
3  
This can be kind of annoying, though. I use it because I sometimes use multiple monitors, and it doesn't just focus on the new window, it brings it to the front, which means if you're moving your mouse to a small window and pass over a large window, the small one disappears behind the large one. –  SaintWacko Dec 7 '11 at 17:08
1  
Oh. Yeah, I need raise to be separate from focus really :-/ –  James Green Dec 11 '11 at 23:11
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@jimbo: Try X-Mouse Controls: "A tool to enable or disable active window tracking, raising and also the delay in milliseconds." –  Joel Purra Feb 13 '12 at 8:52
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@Joel Oh, that looks perfect! Thanks for bringing that to my attention. –  SaintWacko Feb 16 '12 at 17:05
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I was ready to go back to Vista, as all the extra clicks in explorer is annoying but then I found a simple 7.5k freeware called flashwheel. Put it in the startup folder, no nags, gets the job done!

http://sourceforge.net/projects/flashwheel/

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