Left, Right, Left, Right, Left

Using the mouse for the first time, I quickly became frustrated with how rarely my right clicks were registering.  Apple said just to click the right side of it and it'd work, but it didn't, or so I thought.  I kept on repositioning my middle finger further and further right of the scroll ball until I would get the right click to register, which usually ended up being on the very far right of the mouse.  Something had to be wrong - no company would release such a blunder of a mouse. And of course, something was wrong - my pesky index finger.

As I mentioned earlier, when I first started my Mac experiment over a year ago, I refused to use the Apple mouse.  As such, I've developed a small collection of the mice that do nothing but sit in their original wrapping.  I needed my second mouse button and I wasn't going to be able to give the platform its fair chance with that mouse. I tried to be as open-minded about the platform as possible, but I would not budge on the mouse issue.  Since I rarely used Apple's mouse, I had no reason to grow accustomed to what is, in my opinion, the biggest difference between it and normal mice. 

Apple's mice have no button on their surface. Instead, when you "click", you push the entire surface of the mouse down, which works as your primary click.  With a single button mouse, it's not that big of a deal, but once you get into a 2-button mouse situation, things get a bit more complicated. 

Hold mouse over image to see the mouse being clicked

On my Logitech MX1000, when I'd right click, I'd have my index finger resting on the left mouse button.  There was no reason to lift my index finger because my middle finger was doing all of the work at that point, clicking the right mouse button.  And when I needed to left click, my middle finger remained idle while the index finger did its duty.  This is the way most mice work, and most importantly, it doesn't confuse the user; right clicking feels like right clicking because your index finger is on the left mouse button and you can tell that it isn't moving when you right click. 

Doing the same on Apple's Mighty Mouse not only feels weird, but it isn't exactly possible to do without producing a very different outcome.  The Mighty Mouse is no different than Apple's regular mouse from a mechanical standpoint, so regardless of what side of the mouse on which you're pushing down, the whole surface of the mouse clicks.  So, if you happen to have both fingers on the mouse and attempt to right click, it tends to bring about a bit of confusion (you're trying to right-click, but the finger with the job of left clicking moves down as well.  It's an uncomfortable and momentarily confusing feeling, but at the same time, if you're feeling it, then you're using the mouse incorrectly.

Since there aren't two physical buttons on the mouse, left and right clicks are determined by the side of the mouse that you are touching.  So, if your index finger is slightly touching the left side of the mouse when you go to "right click", the click won't register as a right click; instead, it will default to a left click.  That fact alone was what took the most getting used to for me.  At first, I blamed the mouse, but then I quickly realized that all of the times when the right mouse clicks weren't registering, my index finger was resting peacefully on the left side of the mouse - even when I didn't think it was. 

The solution is simple, although a bit annoying for conventional 2-button mouse users: whenever you go to "right click", just lift your index finger off the surface of the mouse.  You have to completely remove your index finger from the surface of the mouse in order to guarantee a right click; otherwise, you'll get a left click.  Of course, if you already do this, then it doesn't take any adjusting. But for me, it was the steepest part of the Mighty Mouse learning curve.

Once you have that down, right clicking seems natural, mainly because your index finger isn't around to feel that it isn't exactly natural.  If you remember to keep your index finger out of the way, you can right click anywhere to the right of the mouse ball.  You can actually click below and to the right of the scroll ball and still generate a right click. 

Index Small Balls and Touchy Sensors


View All Comments

  • Homer1946 - Sunday, March 19, 2006 - link

    The review was reasonable and gave that persons subjective impressions. However most of the comments are extreme.

    I would strongly suggest that Apple has a good history of implementing good function WITH good form. OS X is largely an example of this. Certainly they have had some partial and complete misses as well. Also mice are very subjective and NO mouse will feel right for everybody. I have found that in evaluating new Apple products that Apple puts a lot of thought and effort into their designs (hardware and software) and in order to evaluate a new product or idea you need to use it with an open mind for at least a week. Often you find that it is actually a big improvement, sometimes not.

    Anyway my two bits. Note that I am a longtime Mac user but have LONG since gone to using two button mice exclusively. I am picky (like most power users) and really like the feel of MS mice.

    1) The trackball works great and has a nice feel. Horizontal scrolling works much better in Cocoa native applications.

    2) I don't have problems with missing right clicks but I don't leave my finger resting in the mouse. (Just dumb luck.)

    3) The side buttons are better thought out than it seems. You only have to press one and the buttons are placed so the users thumb should naturally lie over one of the buttons such that they can activate it with just the thumb and counter pressure from wherever their other fingers naturally lie.

    3) Their are lots of little touches and evidence careful thought:

    - The side buttons take a fair amount of pressure so you don't press them accidently while moving the mouse. When the mouse is picked up they require even more pressure to activate than they do when the mouse is not being held to help prevent accidental activation, but they can still be activated with adequate pressure.

    - The scroll ball requires a little pressure to activate to prevent incidental movement from your finger brushing it but requires enough pressure to depress the mouse casing to active its button feature to allow scrolling without pressing that button by accident (not that other mice have problems with this either)

    - For most (all?) buttons a quick click will act normally but a click->hold->release will toggle the linked function. For example with the default behavior of having the scroll ball button activate dashboard just clicking it normally brings up dashboard, but clicking and holding brings out dashboard and then closes it when you release.

    My overall impression.

    A very good mouse. The trackball is great, better than the MS mice scroll wheel (although they are very nice as well). I think the side buttons are awkward but I feel that way about ALL side buttons on mice.

    Although the cord is perfect for use with Apple keyboards, it is too short otherwise. I wish they had included an extender. (I note that the new MacBook Pros have USB ports on both sides.) I personally like the size and shape of the larger MS mouse better.

    The Apple mice (and most other mice) are a little small for me. Others I know think the opposite. Apple should IMHO add the ability to map a key combination to a button as part if its standard preferences. I think this would greatly expand the flexibility for a number of users without overly complicating the interface.

    This mouse is not perfect (nothing ever is) and not for everybody. However Apple is trying to re-think this, at least a little, and it is going to take some experimenting and some revisions. To those people who actually say 'Two button mice are already good enough and Apple is stupid to attempt to improve on it' I say this: The difference between Apple and the others is Apple understanding of how wrong that thinking is.

  • softonero - Friday, August 19, 2005 - link

    First of all... I'm from Argentina, so please excuse me if my english is too bad ;)
    I've readed the article, all the comments and even tried the mouse (on an apple reseller near my home) but didn't buy it, i have a MX500 thas is very good and the "mighty" is too for my buck... 1 dollar = 3 pesos :(
    But I think it's very important for Apple the double functionality (1-button or 2-button) just look at this page: http://www.macpolls.com/?poll_id=444">http://www.macpolls.com/?poll_id=444, there are a lot of people who still wants a 1 button mouse from Apple (I have a few in my family), and this means that apple is thinking in it as the possible next "apple mouse" (the one who ships with macs)... possibly with "MacIntels"? So it would be nice to see it in all new Macs. Even better, you will have the Apple Pro Mouse... perhaps THIS is the mouse you are looking for (the one who wants Anand) at least, this is the beginning.
  • SuperTyphoon - Saturday, November 19, 2005 - link

    Crap. Complete crap. Just buy a regular PC mouse with two buttons and a scroll, and save money.

    When clicking right and other buttons, it sometimes clicks the standard one. They don't feel separated enough.

    The scroll wheel is pathetic, too small, and hard to use.

    The smooth, slippery surface gets very slippery with sweat over time.

    The shape of the mouse is hard to use and uncomfortable compared to many pc mouses.
  • soosy - Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - link

    Nice review. I haven't used the Mightly Mouse in person yet...
    - Just to be clear for those who don't know, you can use 3rd party two button mice on Macs. The first page of the review wasn't totally clear on that I thought.
    - The article mentions a lack of control for how many lines are scrolled yet also mentions the slow/fast scrolling setting. Is there a difference? The beef really seems to be that the "fast" setting isn't fast enough. This should be built in but there is a program called USB Overdrive that many use to adjust mouse speed settings beyond what is built in.
    - I love the shape of Apple mice. Where the side buttons are now there used to be panels that you would grip to pickup up the mouse and move it since every where else on the mouse is essentially part of the main button. So using those panels as buttons makes a lot of sense to me. They obviously can't be seperate buttons because they are directly opposite each other and pushing one would mean pushing the other. So you end up with 4 buttons instead of 5 but I think it's a fine trade-off to keep the excellent existing shape/form and single button/multi-button versatility.
    - Other reviews have said you only have to push one of the side buttons, not both at once.
    - The track ball looks very cool to me as opposed to the bulkier scroll wheel that has resistant clicks on my current MS Intellimouse.
    - I have used multi-button and single button mice with my Mac back and forth. For a while, I went back to using a single button mouse but had to go back to a multi-button because of World of Warcraft. That game just isn't designed very well for a single button mouse. I'm very sympathetic to the Application Design argument for single button mice. Mac users are mostly fine with single button mice because using a single button is no big deal. Contextual menus are merely convenience. On Windows, too often the only way to do something is to right click.
    - The one thing I am dissappointed with is the having to lift up your left finger to right click. I notice I mostly lift up my left finger anyway... but even if I don't just 1% of the time... it will be annoying.
  • jbezdek - Tuesday, August 9, 2005 - link

    Apple has created something truly innovative with the Mighty Mouse: a single piece of hardware that can function as a 1-button mouse or a 2-button mouse. Personally (as a Mac power user), I find this to be brilliant. I can use the mouse in 2-button mode, while my wife, child, and any other user who prefers the 1-button mode can use that.

    In the many comments I've seen posted about the Mighty Mouse, I note one thing: those people who don't see any value in a 1-button mouse to begin with, don't see anything noteworthy about a mouse that can be 1-button or 2-button. ("1-button mice suck! Who cares if the mouse works in 1-button mode. Just give it 2-buttons and be done!") Those people who _do_ see the value of a 1-button mouse (better usability, encourages better application design, easier for average/inexperienced users to use) see a lot of value in a dual function mouse. You can have your cake and eat it too.

    On an unrelated note, in your section on "Ergonomics," you should note that the Mighty Mouse (and all of Apple's mice, for that matter) work equally well for right-handed and left-handed users. The other mice you compare it to work only for right-handed users. That is certainly an ergonomic plus.
  • MCSim - Thursday, August 11, 2005 - link


    On an unrelated note, in your section on "Ergonomics," you should note that the Mighty Mouse (and all of Apple's mice, for that matter) work equally well for right-handed and left-handed users. The other mice you compare it to work only for right-handed users. That is certainly an ergonomic plus.

    Ergonimics has very little to do with that, but all how it fits to your hand with minimal strain. You just can't make better ergonomics for mice that can be used by left or right hand. In other words you have to make compromises. When the mouse is perfecly fitted to left/right hand it's pretty much better than the "hybrid" ;)

    Only ~10% of the humans are left-handed. It's quite big compromise. But again those are who should get that mouse. ;)
  • SuperTyphoon - Monday, August 8, 2005 - link

    apple has finally made the break through in the two button mouse!!! its a miracle! that mouse must suck big time for games. Reply
  • Windaria - Monday, August 8, 2005 - link

    I don't think that I could stand anything less than 5 anymore. I mean, 4 buttons? You mean I have to give up a function? NO!

    Oh well... I have never understood Apple's hardware anyway. The only thing that they made that was better than anyone else was the Apple Cinema displays, ant that may even be eclipsed by the Dell monitors entirely soon, even though they are in certain aspects already.

    Everything else... bah.
  • toot - Saturday, August 6, 2005 - link

    Doesn't it look just a bit phalic? :p Reply
  • Jalf - Sunday, August 7, 2005 - link

    Just a bit... :)
    At least, the little logo thing for the article does

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