Finding, Installing, and Configuring a Mouse

When the Mac was first introduced, its mouse separated it from all the computers that came before it, and those that came after it, for a long time. Until Windows and other platforms adopted the mouse as one of their primary input devices, the Mac and its mouse really stood out from the crowd.

Choosing and Installing a Mouse

All desktop Macs come with the Apple Pro Mouse. This is an optical mouse, which means it uses light to translate your movements into input information (as opposed to the rolling ball in previous generations of mouse devices). Optical mouse devices eliminate the frequent cleaning required by the ball-based ancestors. The Apple Pro Mouse uses the entire top half as its "button," which makes using it even easier (if that is even possible). And it shares the same clear or white plastic look as the Apple Pro Keyboard.


Schools love the Apple Pro Mouse, too. In schools, kids often take the balls out of "regular" mouse devices, thus rendering the mouse unusable until a replacement ball is located or the mouse is replaced. By switching to the optical mouse, some school districts have saved several hundreds of dollar that they would have otherwise spent because of missing mouse balls.

There are three main considerations when choosing a mouse.

One is its comfort in your hand. Mouse devices come in various shapes and sizes. Using one that is suited to your own hand cuts down on fatigue in your hand and lower arm.

Another factor is the number of buttons and other features on the mouse. Apple's mouse devices all provide a single mouse button, but other mouse devices come with two or more buttons. These buttons can be programmed to accomplish specific tasks, such as opening contextual menus. Also, some mouse devices include a scroll wheel that enables you to scroll in a window, such as a Web page, without moving the mouse.


Because support for a two-button mouse with a scroll wheel is built in to the OS, (even though you won't find this indicated on the Mouse tab of the Keyboard & Mouse pane of the System Preferences application), you should get at least a two-button mouse. This makes opening contextual menus, which are used throughout the OS and in most applications, much easier. Even better, get a mouse that includes a scroll wheel. This makes scrolling much more convenient and faster at the same time.

Third, you need to decide whether you want a wireless mouse. Because of the amount of time you spend moving a mouse, you should really consider a wireless mouse. Getting rid of the wire provides much more freedom of movement for you. As with keyboards, two types of wireless mouse devices are available?those that use a USB transmitter and those that use Bluetooth (such as Apple's Wireless Mouse).

Like installing a keyboard, installing a mouse isn't hard.

If you use a wired mouse, just plug it in to an available USB port.

If you use a USB-based wireless mouse, plug its transmitter in to an available USB port and use its controls to get the mouse and transmitter communicating.

If you use a Bluetooth mouse, use the Bluetooth configuration controls to set it up.

To learn more about Bluetooth devices, see "Finding, Installing, and Using Bluetooth Devices," p. 735.


Apple's wireless keyboard and mouse use Bluetooth to communicate with a Mac. You must purchase these devices separately. Hopefully, someday soon Apple will build Bluetooth support into all Macs and include the wireless keyboard and mouse. Even better, maybe someday Apple will replace its mouse design with a two-button (or more) version that includes a scroll wheel.

Configuring a Mouse

Configuring a mouse is much like configuring a keyboard; however, if you use a mouse that offers additional features, you need to install and configure the software that comes with that device first to take advantage of all its features. Without this software, your mouse might default to acting like a standard one-button mouse. (However, if it includes a second button and scroll wheel, these will likely work as you expect without any additional software installation.)

To configure a mouse, do the following:

  1. Open the Keyboard & Mouse pane of the System Preferences application.

  2. Click the Mouse tab (see Figure 22.6).

    Figure 22.6. Configuring a mouse isn't hard to do.


  3. Use the Tracking Speed slider to set the tracking speed of the mouse. A faster tracking speed means that the pointer moves farther with less movement of the mouse.


    If your mouse includes a Scroll wheel, you will also see the Scrolling Speed slider. Use this slider to set the speed at which the wheel scrolls.

  4. Use the Double-Click Speed slider to set the rate at which you have to click the mouse button to register a double-click. You can use the test area to check out the click speed you have set.

  5. Quit the System Preferences utility.

Unfortunately, even though Mac OS X supports a second mouse button and wheel for most devices, you can't configure them, such as setting the action that occurs when you click the second button or the speed at which you scroll using the Mouse tab. To configure those aspects of a mouse, you must use the software that came with it (see Figure 22.7).

Figure 22.7. If you use a mouse with a second (or third) button and a scroll wheel, use its software to configure it.



PowerBooks and iBooks use a trackpad instead of a mouse (although you can connect a mouse to one of these machines just as you can any other Mac).

For information about working with a trackpad, see "Using and Configuring the Trackpad," p. 988.

    Part I: Mac OS X: Exploring the Core
    Part III: Mac OS X: Living the Digital Life