XMouse Button Control is a great freeware program that allows you to change what each button on your mouse does. It works with nearly any type of mouse, no matter how many buttons it has, and is very easy to use.
Anyone who knows me even slightly will know that I am an avid gamer. I may not spend the hours upon hours of gaming that the really serious gamers do, these days, but I still make time to enjoy a good gaming session as often as I can. One of the things that is always important in any game, as well as other (nongaming) situations is control.
Most games for the PC these days will have a menu that allows you to modify the controls of the game, such as changing what the keyboard keys do or changing the mouse sensitivity. The best games also carry a menu option to change what the various buttons on the mouse do within the game.
What happens, however, when you come across a game that does not have these menus, but you still want to make changes to how the mouse works within it? What about using your mouse within other programs besides games and customizing the mouse button functions for that program? That’s where XMouse Button Control (XMBC) comes into play, no pun intended.
Some mice, or other “Human Interface Devices” have software built in to let you remap the buttons and their functions. Some mice have programs that you can download from the manufacturer that will do the same kind of thing. Logitech, for example, has great software for that very purpose. However, if you happen to have a mouse that doesn’t have any software built in, and isn’t a Logitech product, then you’re going to need a third party program, and that what XMBC is for. There are also many programs and games that will allow you to remap the mouse button functions but, for whatever reason, do not recognize the extra buttons on your mouse besides the left and right standard buttons.
The first thing you will need to do is to download the XMBC program and install it. Once you have done so, just run the program and a small mouse icon with a tiny x on it will appear on your system tray. Right clicking on the icon will bring up the quick menu which will let you bring up the settings for your mouse.
The options to customize your mouse are surprisingly extensive and easy to use. You can change any button to mimic another button, which is handy for folks who are left-handed. Additionally, you can also have the mouse buttons mimic keystrokes from your keyboard. You can, for instance, have the middle mouse button mimic pressing Enter on your keyboard, instead of sending a button click to the operating system. This particular option is the one I have found most useful for games, since it allows you to, essentially, have much more control by putting keyboard functions into the mouse buttons. Personally, I use a five button mouse that is pretty generic, and doesn’t have any native options so XMBC is my way to go to customize the buttons. Given that most games, even newer ones, don’t seem to recognize the extra thumb buttons on my mouse, XMBC is an invaluable tool to make sure I get the most out of my mouse while playing. For example, if a game lets me fire a missile using the \ key on the keyboard, I can map that key to the first thumb button on my mouse and have missile control right there, rather than having to move my hand across the keyboard to hit the right key. That may not sound very useful, or may sound incredibly lazy, but in the case of gaming (especially any kind of action in a game), those precious milliseconds that it takes to move my whole hand versus the one millisecond it takes to click the thumb button on the mouse, are invaluable. Those tiny short milliseconds can be the difference between living and dying, as far as the game goes.
In addition to the basic functions of changing which mouse buttons do what, or mimicking keystrokes, XMBC also has some really great advanced options that make it a better bit of freeware, in my opinion. For one thing, you can set up multiple layers of programming, so the mouse will activate a different ‘layer’ (essentially a mouse button profile) automatically, depending on the situation. This kind of conditional programming, along with the ability to recognize different windows and activate different layers just by placing your mouse cursor over the particular window, seriously raises the intelligence of your mouse and expands its usefulness beyond games and into everyday use on your OS. I would recommend XMBC for pretty much anyone who isn’t a complete novice at using a mouse and computer, since it can be useful in so many different ways and in so many different programs. Until next time, my friends!
Compatibility: X-Mouse Button Control supports Windows 2000, XP, 2003, 2003 R2, Vista, 2008, 2008 R2, 7. It was originally designed to run natively on x64 editions of Windows but it is fully supported on 32bit editions too!