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I want to know the difference between click and press. As we click the mouse and press a button. Where do we use press and where do we use click?

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    If, when you do the action, you hear a "click" sound, then it's a click. Up until the "click" occurs it's a press.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 12:28
  • @HotLicks Exactly. I was in the process of rustling up some definitions for an answer - would you like to do the honours?
    – Lawrence
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 12:29
  • @Lawrence - No, have at it! It's time for me to get breakfast. (Wouldn't want to miss that!)
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 12:31
  • @HotLicks Oh, very well then :P . Bon Appétit!
    – Lawrence
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 12:32
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    how did a dictionary explain the difference?
    – Mitch
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 16:12

3 Answers 3

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Typically, we use "click" for mice and buttons on the computer screen, and "press" for buttons which we physically push. Googling shows that some people do use "press the mouse" for the mouse button. However, I don't think anybody would say "click floor 5" for a button in an elevator. Similarly, unless it was designed for a touch screen, I think it would be quite rare to use "press the start button" for the image of a button which you have to activate by positioning the cursor over it and clicking the mouse.

Speculative etymology follows; TL;DR

Why? When mice were first invented in California, the inventors had to come up with a verb for "clicking" a mouse button. The verb they came up with was the one that stuck.

From this Ngram, it appears that click was first applied to mice, and then applied to buttons on the computer screen.

While it seems that the usual term in the U.K. is press the button, many Americans don't press buttons, they push buttons. See Ngram. I suspect this variation is regional, but I have no real evidence for this, and I don't know what the regional distribution of press the button and push the button is in the U.S.

Suppose the inventors of mice typically used "push the button". It would have been clear to them that you couldn't say "push the mouse", as that would be ambiguous: "push the mouse" might be interpreted as "move the mouse". So they might have started using "click" as the verb.

It seems to me that "press the mouse" is completely unambiguous, and would have been a better choice than "click". But maybe that word choice didn't even occur to the inventors of the mouse, because in their dialect, one didn't press buttons, one pushed them instead.

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  • we use left click of mouse button but not use the left push button ?
    – NomanJaved
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 11:34
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    While "left click the mouse" is pretty clear, "left push the mouse" might be interpreted as move the mouse leftwards along the surface of your desk. Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 11:41
  • i want to ask Is we say press the button but when use mouse then say click the mouse.
    – NomanJaved
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 11:41
  • I don't say "press the button"; I say "push the button". And you don't want to use "push the mouse", because that's ambiguous. Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 11:42
  • I think someone's pushing someone's buttons. "Push" is rarely used (in the US) with regard to actions on a GUI device.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 12:32
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Click is more of a software thing, while press is more of a hardware.

What it means is when there is physical touch involved in an action without any medium then its press. For example you press the button on the wall, or press the cross button on your mobile phone.

Click involves a medium. So when you use a mouse or a pointer to do the pressing for an action; you are clicking.

So you click the cross button on a desktop, while you press it on a touch screen mobile phone.

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  • I'm confused ... pressing a button seems physical, like clicking a mouse.
    – jimm101
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 11:41
  • Actually the name came into being because of the click on a mouse has a sound click. Is it clearer?
    – Aam Boli
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 12:00
  • So my keyboard is unplugged it doesn't click?? What's that sound I hear, then?
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 12:30
  • @hot-licks You are right actually. The sound was called clickety clack.
    – Aam Boli
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 13:31
  • @AamBoli - No, "clickety-clack" is the sound of a train rolling over a real railroad track, one before they installed those stupid welded rails and made it all quiet-like.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 17:13
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First, some definitions:

Click
noun 1 A short, sharp sound as of a switch being operated or of two hard objects coming smartly into contact
noun 1.2 Computing An act of pressing a button on a mouse or similar device:
verb 1.1 Computing Select an item in a graphical user interface by pressing a button on a mouse
- ODO

Press verb Move or cause to move into a position of contact with something by exerting continuous physical force - ODO

Press is more generic. A click is a press, but a press may not be a click.

Of the click definitions, verb 1.1 is the closest to your question. It is related to noun 1.2, which in turn is related to the more general noun 1. Click is an onomatopoeia that is related to the sound that the mouse button button makes when pressing it activates the mechanical switch underneath.

In answer to your question: the difference between click and press is that click evokes the audible (and perhaps even tangible) feedback from the mouse, whereas press simply refers to the generic action of pushing the button.

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