Upgrade your mouse



This is going in the basics category. Quite often I visit a computer that has a mouse which is just a trial of patience to use. I mean, you have to pick it up and move it, shake it a bit, turn it over and clean out the lint from the “ball” area…. The good news is that mousing does NOT have to be like this. If your computer has a PS2 (small round plug) for your mouse, or a USB (small rectangular plug) for your mouse, it should be VERY easy to replace that old ball style mouse with an optical mouse.


Some people get optical confused with wireless….. an Optical mouse basically uses a little light (instead of a roller ball) to track the mouse’s position. The advantages are: you can mouse on most any surface (that’s not reflective…); you don’t have to clean dust out of the tracking; they offer much smoother “mousing”.

I personally like using an optical mouse with my laptop. USB makes it fairly easy to hotplug and use it… (PS2 mice have to be plugged in when the system boots to work.) The days, I will not buy a trackball mouse for my own use, or for a customers new system unless they absolutely refuse the optical. (Older systems that use a serial port _/ shaped connector are unfortunately out of luck, I don’t know of ANY optical mouse that fits the serial port. Fortunately, that is much older hardware – around vintage Windows 95-ish…)

Optical mice can be wired like a traditional mouse, or wireless.

Wireless mice are good options as well, there are a couple things to think about. Many wireless mice have a transmitter that plugs in through USB. Some are about the size and have the about the same length cable as a mouse itself, so if the goal is reducing clutter, shop around for a wireless mouse with transmitter that just plugs into usb and doesn’t straggle far… The big thing though is to keep batteries stocked, because the wireless mouse HAS to have power, it will typically use AA batteries. It’s a good idea to keep spares on hand. If you want, you should be able to use rechargable batteries although I haven’t tested that out. (Rechargable batteries put out a bit less voltage than traditional alkalines…)

Of course, with a wireless mouse, if it suddenly stops responding, the first thing to check might be the batteries. Also, many times there will be a button to “find” or “page through” the radio frequencies that it can use to communicate with the transmitter, so that’s worth trying as well.

A lot of places sell mice for laptops. Many times they’re smaller and there is a bit of a premium in price for those. A “desktop mouse” will work just fine if you’re comfortable with the size. In fact, the one I carry for my laptop is an identical Microsoft Wheel Mouse Optical to the one I have on my desktop. I’ve never got used to the smaller size of the “laptop” mice….

Anyway, those are just a few ways you can upgrade your mouse and give you a less frustrating mousing experience.

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