Apple Magic Mouse is no Magic Bullet

| Quick Look Review

Our tendency, based on other technologies, is to believe that our Apple accessories just keep getting better and better. However, Apple has had its share of hit and miss affairs with computer mice, and the Magic Mouse is no exception. (Remember the hockey puck mouse on the original iMac?)

 

Magic Mouse

Apple Magic Mouse

I've had the Apple Magic Mouse since October 31, and I've used it every day in my work. At first I thought it would be terrific because of the built-in gesture capability. Namely, one can:

  • Click or double click anywhere
  • Enable Two-button click (See the TMO Quick Tip)
  • Scroll and pan
  • Zoom the screen (not a new option)
  • Two-finger swipe for advancing through pages

These are all very nice features, and I use them all. Unfortunately, the feature list isn't the end of the story.

Kitten Chow

After using the Magic Mouse for awhile, several problems became apparent.

Horizontal Creep. A very gentle and inadvertent right to left touch can cause a page to scroll ever so slightly and cut off a slice of a web page. It's easy to fix; just turn off the "Swipe Left/right to Navigate" option. But then one loses the capability for selected apps. It's almost as if Apple designed (and tested) this feature with its own apps, like iPhoto, without regard for other apps. For example, the horizontal scroll plays havoc with the current version of Drag Thing.

Vertical Creep. With the old Mighty Mouse, one had to make an explicit motion to scroll with the small sphere near the front. Now, with the Magic Mouse, if you're editing a large document and accidentally brush the top of the mouse as you move your hand to the keyboard, the page will jump, losing your place. That has annoyed me a lot lately. The page should scroll only with an explicit action, not a brush of the arm, wrist or finger.

Tracking. Tracking seems unusually slow, even when set to maximum. Other customers have reported this to TMO. One fix, I am told, is to use Mousezoom. But we shouldn't have to resort to add-ons for a new Apple mouse.

Ergonomics. I have been using a Logitech wireless mouse ("Laser Travel Mouse") that is nicely fat. Well fed I guess. The design forces my hand to rest just a tad higher, and I don't need a wrist rest. But with the Magic Mouse laying so low, the edge of my arm now gets cut into by the edge of my desk. Pushing the display and keyboard further back than I would like solves the problem by resting more of my forearm flat, but now I'm hunched over more than I would like. The Magic Mouse still has me hunting around the house for a Beanie Baby to rest my arm on.

Logitech mouse

Family Rodents

Default Install. Let's face it. We're all grown up here. We use a UNIX OS. The business of making new Apple mice default to a one button mouse annoys the Apple crowd and provides disinformation and ammunition to the PC crowd. It's time to make the two button mouse the default.

Digesting it All

To sum it up, the features of the Apple Magic Mouse are out weighed, for me, by the comfort and predictability of my Logitech wireless mouse. Other vendors should not be afraid of the Magic Mouse nor try to copy it. It looks very cool, has some nice features, but it will require a long period of time to adapt to. One must change the habits developed with other mice. As a result, there's no urgency, in my mind, to run out and spend US$70.00, for the fun of it, if you like your current mice. Spend a lot of time with one in an Apple retail store if you can to determine if the new features are compelling.

System Requirements (via Apple)

  • Bluetooth-enabled Mac computer
  • Mac OS X v10.5.8 or later with Wireless Mouse Software Update 1.0* or Mac OS X v10.6.1 or later with Wireless Mouse Software Update 1.0
  • Existing keyboard and mouse for setup
  • Two AA batteries (included)

* Momentum scrolling supported only on Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard.

Sign Up for the Newsletter

Join the TMO Express Daily Newsletter to get the latest Mac headlines in your e-mail every weekday.

Comments

jkwilliams

Hi John -
Guess I must have a smaller hand and a mouse pad with more friction than you - this is the first Apple mouse I’ve liked and actually enjoyed using. Like you, I’ve “retired” a lot of mice over 25 years and Magic Mouse has retired my Logitech to the back-up stuff drawer.

Lee Dronick

I too have noticed the creepiness now and then, but overall I like this mouse.

I am using it on a an extra large mousepad made from that wetsuit type of stuff, dark blue in color, it tracks fine on that. I have also tried it on the hardwood desktop and also have had no problems.

Could the mouse be improved? Certainly. Am I interested in going back to “scrolling around with balls?” No, I am used to this Magic Mouse now.

John Martellaro

It’s one thing to break old habits.  I’m all for that.  But just a slight brush of the MM surface abruptly jumps the page I’m working on.  Don’t know how I’m going to get over that.

Lee Dronick

It?s one thing to break old habits.? I?m all for that.? But just a slight brush of the MM surface abruptly jumps the page I?m working on.? Don?t know how I?m going to get over that.

I am finding that most of the creep is caused by the heel of my palm brushing the mouse surface.

What I have done is started to move my “grip” farther aft on the mouse and scroll/click on about the middle of the mouse. My thumb and index finger grip the mouse about 2/3 bCK. This lets me rest/hover the heel of my palm over the mousepad.

The right-click works about 2/3 the way from the front of the mouse just forward of the Apple logo, same for the right-left swipe. The vertical scroll works a little farther back on the surface, but not past the logo.

I think that we got used to having the left and right clicks on a mouse almost to the front

Lee Dronick

Sorry I meant to say ring finger, not index finger

Ashley Grayson

I know the feeling.

In my Spad, if the machine guns jammed, I could lean over the windscreen and fix them. I could tell by how hot the cod liver oil was spraying on my face if the engine was too hot. I could stand up in the seat and look back over the tail or forward over the upper wing. The stick was the stick. It controlled the plane.

This damn, F-22 is too hard to control. I’m trapped under a bubble, can’t stand up, and the stick is covered with buttons that shoot guns I can’t even see. I can’t get close enough to the Boche to shoot them because I’m going too fast. This will never catch on.

Lee Dronick

@Ashley

Over Macho Grande? smile

dubbio

alas even more so than keyboards, i think the mouse is a very very VERY personal thing. having somewhat largish hands i am often bit by the extraneous swipe problems with mice and touchpads.

WetcoastBob

But just a slight brush of the MM surface abruptly jumps the page I?m working on.

I find that I hold the mouse differently than my MIghty.  I grab it about in the middle with my thumb and little finger.  This gives me a great long reach for scrolling.  The palm of my hand rests on my desk, which is arbourite. No other part of my hand touches the mouse so I have not noticed the “Jump”.  On a loooonnng list I just give the scroll a good flick and it scrolls like it is on a flywheel. Just touch the scroll area to stop the free wheeling. 

I do not miss the side buttons a bit.
I absolutely love this mouse.

iBagwan

I am LOVING my magic mouse. I do miss the middle button but don’t miss the side buttons. I do CADD and it’s like having a touch pad at my finger tips! I have had the screen jump thing a couple of times but it’s not something that bugs me, very infrequent. If you have a magic mouse you should go to: http://plentycom.jp/en/steermouse/ and click on contacts and let them know that we want an update that handles the magic mouse. They should be able to bring back the middle click and they allow modifier keys and application specific actions.

Lardlad

I am pretty satisfied with this mouse. I got used to it pretty quick although the shape is kinda odd feeling. But I really like it.

If you complain that there is no right click that is one thing, but because the default is not there, come on, is that worth the bandwidth.

I understand what the author is saying about the surface being too sensitive and gestures accidentally being triggered, but honestly that hasn’t happened to me more than a couple times, and hopefully this is something that can be fixed with a software update.

I do miss the side buttons, I used to use this for the app switcher.

Zac

Just purchased this mouse after trying it in the store, and it is great. The touch surface is responsive, better friction with the table than the previous mouse and with all mouses I’ve used, and of course no mouse pad is required with Apple mice which I like.

Sometimes my forefinger gets tired using the scroll ball, so with the mouse you can scroll with either finger wherever that finger happens to be, freedom to rest your fingers anywhere, and silent scrolling which enhances the smoothness. The click has a nice sound and positive action.

A few drawbacks: no middle click yet, and when you have sticky fingers because of sweat it is a little harder to move your fingers over the glossy surface. No big deal, just that with a wheel mouse that is not a factor. Maybe with a slightly textured surface might be better.

I haven’t experience no creep yet.

Overall, despite the drawbacks and enjoyable mouse to use. And at the end of the day, I prefer it. If you need a 15 button mouse for specialist work, then use that.

Lardlad

One more thing I’d like to add about the side buttons that I said I missed. I still liked being able to use the side buttons as the app switcher, but ?+tab then use the mouse to slide left and right, that is pretty slick.

hembreeder

Geez, guys. Never heard so much moanin.’

My only problem is I have really large hands, arms, feet and other body parts, one of which I usually just drape up onto the desk.

Unfortunately, this large part tends to accidentally swipe the mouse surface and throw my computer into paroxysms, after which I always find myself transported to some XXX porn site.

So give me a break with this groanin,’  will ya?

John Martellaro

I am happy to hear that so many people love the Magic Mouse.  It *is* a cool device.  I just wanted to make sure, in the article, that the readers understood some of the details and frustrations I had with it so that they would test it first and be an informed buyer.  As always, YMMV.

daemon

Thank you John.

Is it just me, or are all of Apple’s mice just gimmicks?

Ashley Grayson

“Is it just me, or are all of Apple?s mice just gimmicks?”

Sorry, it is just you. I do suspect that the original gumdrop iMac “hockypuck” mouse was a bit gimmicky just to create controversy and draw attention to the new machines, since it was uncomfortable to almost everyone and not “better” for anyone. I personally have a drawer full of Mighty Mice that I replaced when cleaning no longer worked because they were just so much better than any other choice. Still, mice are very personal and personal comfort IS important.

Shivanshu

Don’t you guys think that the click top is becoming loose by the day? The ‘free-play’ i.e. the mechanical movement that occurs between when you try to click and when it actually clicks, is increasing by the day. Is this something specific to the one that I got or is anyone else also facing this issue?

WetcoastBob

Mine is working just fine after 2 weeks.  Battery at 75% and I never shut it off.

This is the best mouse ever!

Shivanshu

Oh ya ..
but I am talking about the glass top, I seem to be having a mechanical issue here but was wondering if anyone else has also faced this. The glass top, the click-top is a lil bit loose .... I feel.

WetcoastBob

It is possible that the one you have has a mechanical defect.  Send it back or if you are in reach of an Apple Store take it there and compare it with another new one.

Good Luck
Bob

Lee Dronick

Don?t you guys think that the click top is becoming loose by the day? The ?free-play? i.e. the mechanical movement that occurs between when you try to click and when it actually clicks, is increasing by the day. Is this something specific to the one that I got or is anyone else also facing this issue?

I had notice it until you mentioned it, but there does seem to be some lateral movement between the top and body. Not like it is pulling apart, but sideways movement. I don’t know if this this normal or not, we will find out and they are under warranty.

Shivanshu

And also if you try clicking at the top right corner, the edge .... it won’t even ckick but its not the same with the left side of it. This is because of the mechanical freeplay that the top right click is not happening. Moreover the right click will sound a lot different than left click, all because of the same mechanical error. This may be due to bad quality of hinges used bad quality whatever goes into making the piece that holds the clicktop and is responsible for clicking.

But all these are guesses. Anyway, if Apple can go ahead to charge $70 for a mouse that isn’t the most ergonomic and doesn’t have all the features that come standard with other mice, so much so that it does not even have all the functionality that the mighty mouse had, it should at least be a well built sturdy mouse! They should not expect us to shell out so much money just to ‘support’ their efforts, rather should deliver close to flawless products if they they have a high price tag attached to them.

I was happy to buy it as I was hopeful but the magic mouse hasn’t quite satisfied my expectations, which by the way are not too high.

vitor carvalho

hi.. does anyone know how to use the ‘scroll button’(or scroll click)?

i don’t meant scrolling up and down, but the act of clicking the scroll, you know? it’s commonly used in 3D programs or even in browsers(to open stuff in a new separator).
i can’t seem to find how to do that in the magic mouse.

ibagwan

Don?t you guys think that the click top is becoming loose by the day? The ?free-play? i.e. the mechanical movement that occurs between when you try to click and when it actually clicks, is increasing by the day. Is this something specific to the one that I got or is anyone else also facing this issue?

Not having any problems with that myself and I haven’t had anyone at the genius bar mention anything about that either.

ibagwan

the act of clicking the scroll, you know? it?s commonly used in 3D programs or even in browsers(to open stuff in a new separator).
i can?t seem to find how to do that in the magic mouse.

Hi Vitor, there is software called “Better Touch Tool” that will allow you to “center click”. Just search it in google and it pops right up. You can do a whole bunch of customizations that take the Magic Mouse to another level. I wish that Apple had incorporated these functions but since they didn’t I’m glad someone else stepped in!

I love the Magic Mouse so much I was willing to give up my center click but now I don’t have to! (I use my Magic Mouse in Vectorworks and it’s awesomeness!)

vitor carvalho

thanks mwwolfgram and ibagwan

iklln6

I just wish i had the option to make the scrolling happen with 2 fingers like the touchpad instead of just 1.  that would probably fix this scrolling problem.

WetcoastBob

May I modify my previous comment:

Some how since I have the MM my wireless keyboard goes through batteries 5 to 6 times faster.  2 weeks instead of 3 months!!  I read somewhere that the MM prevents the older bluetooth keyboards from going to sleep.

I am hoping for a firmware update for the keyboard.

Log-in to comment