Blender's Right Click vs Left Click: Which is Better?

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Blender Right Click is dead, long live the Left Click?

Now that Blender 2.80 has arrived, the default selection mode for Blender has changed from right click to *drumroll*...left click. (Though there are more new features: read about the top 5 game changers that Blender 2.8 brings).

Having been a savvy right clicker for more than 15 years, I’ll admit that this decision brought a little sadness to my heart. Now, being a right-clicker feels like I’m in on a secret that only a few people know about.

Why has the Default Setting Changed?

It’s simple: to make things easier for new users.

When you are new to software, any hurdle that can be lowered to make the learning easier makes sense. 

You can now select things by default, which is the intuitive way for a new user and solves one of the biggest newbie hurdles.

However, there is an invisible downside to this ‘industry standard’ way of doing things.  

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The (Not so) Secret History of Blender Right-Click Select

Back in the 90’s, the unconventional decision was made to separate ‘selection’ from ‘action’ in Blender.  Why? Speed and precision.

Switching the selection to right-click makes for much faster workflow. It reduces the amount of time the user spends trying to select the correct thing and avoids accidentally selecting an object when they are trying to complete an action instead.

In fact, urban legend has it that by spreading the number of clicks over left and right can aid in repetitive strain injury recovery and also keeps your mouse alive a little longer. Anecdotal evidence seems to support it...though the jury is still out.

Is "Industry Standard" the Holy Grail of Software?

But there's the thing: just because something is ‘industry standard’, it doesn’t mean it's better. Did you know that you can launch the ‘industry standard’ software and have enough time to make a cup of tea before it actually opens?

Having a variety is crucial. If everyone is thinking the same thing, then some people aren’t thinking - and that ain’t good.

When I started learning Blender there wasn’t a way to switch left-click and right-click; I was essentially forced to learn the right-click method. After so many years, I’m glad I did.

It wasn’t until later that I also started animating using the ‘industry standard’ software and that is when I saw how detrimental not separating selection from action was.

I spent most of my time trying to select the correct control or temporarily changing the tool just so I can select what I wanted. To me, the ‘industry standard’ way of doing things turned into wasted time and it prevented me from getting into a flow state.

Bottom line: once you have experienced the speed and precision of right-click select, any other way seems too cumbersome.

 Read: Top 10 Blender Modeling addons (Starting at $0)

I’m a Right Clicker - What Should I do now?

The default in Blender has changed, but that doesn’t mean you have to.

Formula 1 drivers do not drive in a ‘conventional’ way. They use 1 foot on the accelerator and 1 foot on the brake for 2 reasons. Speed and precision. (Hey, that sounds familiar). Can you imagine if they were forced to use 1 foot because that is the conventional way of doing it?

With the new default, a slower workflow is almost unavoidable. But unless you're ready to separate selection from action, it might seem like that is the right (!) way of working. 


Read: 3 Things Every Blender Beginner Should Model

To Right-Click or not to Right-Click?

Maybe a few left-clickers are interested in extra speed and precision by switching over to the other side. 

So should you change? My advice: even if you're left-clicking like a boss, give the classic right-click method a try.

How long does it take to get used to "clicking the other way"?

That depends on your brain.  It could be a few hours or a few days.  But I would suggest committing to any key change for at least a week before you decide if it's for you.

A few days of inconvenience could be well worth it in the long run.

What about you: are you a rightie or a leftie?

P.S. Looking for a Blender project to cover the essential workflows every artist needs to know? Why not model, texture and share your very own treasure chest! Our most-watched recent tutorial series. 

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  • crew
    Wayne Dixon (waylow)

    eelkestra
    It's ok if you don't understand my reasoning.
    You can choose whatever makes sense for you. If you need to use the context menu more that you need to separate action from selection, then that is your workflow and it is fine. (BTW when you left click in a menu, that is an 'action' not selection)

    There is no over arching right way or wrong way, but left click is certainly the wrong way for me and many other users who user Blender in a similar way to me. (Some of those users don't know there is a faster way)

    Standardisation is generally a good idea, except when you can deviate from the 'normal' way in order to create a faster workflow.

    Just ask anyone who uses a Dvorak keyboard. (looking at you blanchsb)
    It is a more efficient layout based on the distance between the most used keys etc. Does it make sense for me to switch to that layout? Nope.
    Is it wrong that Shawn uses that layout? Nope.
    Is Shawn be faster at typing than me? For sure.

  • Jimmy Gunawan (enzyme69)

    This article truly spoke to me as an ex-Maya user and was a convert around 10 years ago into Blender 2.5x. Now with 2.8x JOURNEY I have never been happier. I am no longer newbie Blender user, still happily learning Blender 2.8x way.

    To be honest, I don't care much about "Industry Standard Hotkeys". I remap my Maya knowledge into Blender back then, and slowly making my ways around Blender. It's not a big deal, really.

    Back then, I blog and find my way into Blender, the reason I started Blender Sushi. I find things different, simply blog it. Hopefully useful for future Blender users coming from Maya. I supposed it helps myself to really think in Blender way: finding way around things, learning things on your own, customize for your own needs.

  • kairoland

    Ubisoft has picked up Blender and they're donating to the development fund. Blender will have to cater to bigger companies and getting their animators and modelers on Blender faster is just smart in terms of long term viability for the software. Additionally, this will make Blender the go to gateway program for new users who want to get into the industry. All of this is good news for the future of Blender, because as we know, it's not just a program, it's a community.

    I predict right click support will slowly fade away. I think anyone not working to adopt left click is shooting themselves in the foot. I've been using Blender since 2.47 and have never used another modeling program. Adapting to the new UI has been a challenge and I'm constantly looking up where to go for things that had become second nature, but I am over the moon about 2.8. With enough time, issues in work flows will sort themselves out and if they don't, inform Blender, they'll work to fix them.

    Keep at right click if you want, but I think ultimately everyone will be forced to adopt left click. It's here to stay.

  • crew
    Wayne Dixon (waylow)

    kkairoland I mostly agree.
    Yes, Left Click is here to stay. But I disagree with your prediction that Right click support will be dropped.

    It is already there, and has been from the start, So they would need to remove it. And that won't happen while there is a benevolent dictator for life of the Blender Foundation who just happened to be the one who made the decision 20+ years ago.
    And we all know that Ton is immortal and will therefore outlive us all, thus there will be no shooting of any feet.

  • Ronald Vermeij (indigowarrior9)

    "Right Click vs Left Click: Which is Better"
    Everyone human being is different and has there own preferences, so to my opinion "There is no wrong/better" (way of doing things") since that simply is something which everyone has to decide this for themselves.. No matter way the current "Holy Grail" is or "Industry standard" says..

    If it works is fine for you, (Left/Richt) click on it and Blend on!
    so why have a discussion about "what is better (for whom?)"

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