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How can I change the default double-mouse-1 word selection behavior so that I can move the point around right afterwards to extend/shrink the region? By default, if I forward/backward-char after selecting the word by double-mouse-1, it moves the point, but the mark disappears, so nothing is selected.

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You don't need to change anything.

You just need to click mouse-3 where you want to put the new region limit (whether enlarging or shrinking, either end, as many times as you like).

IOW:

  1. Double-click mouse1 to select a word or symbol etc. (Or triple-click to select a line, etc.)

  2. Click mouse-3 to extend or retract either end of the region.

Repeat #2 as often as you like, to adjust the region.

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