Tech question

My old Apple mouse (the kind with the defective scrolling wheel) died and I just got a new mouse, a Targus. The cursor seems to just fly around the screen when I move the mouse, even though I have the speed set very low. Are all laser mice like this (my old one was optical)? If so, do you get used to it eventually? Could it have anything to do with the fact that this one is wireless and the other was Bluetooth?

64 replies
  1. 1
    El Cruzado says:

    Nah, it seems like they are all adjusted differently for some reason.

    I have both an Apple’s Magic Mouse (works great for everything but gaming) and a small Logitech bluetooth optical travel mouse. They are both optical and bluetooth, yet the Apple Mouse needs to be set at the fastest setting and the Logitech has to be set at two or three notches to slowest.

  2. 2
    Eric U. says:

    The speed has more to do with the design of the mouse than the transmission protocol.

    is there a mouse-specific applet that allows you to adjust the settings? I have a lot of trouble using the wireless mice we have in our house because they move too fast. I assume I could adjust that if one was on my computer.

  3. 3
    Just Dale says:

    Which is why I buy “gaming” mice that have on-the-fly DPI adjustment….

  4. 4

    At the risk of being That Guy(TM), have you gone ahead and installed whatever drivers came with the new mouse as well as restarted the computer since attaching the new one? Asking because this is pretty much exactly what happens when I replace the mouse on any PC I ever owned.

    I just had to replace my wireless optical mouse and the scroll wheel went ballistic. The solution was literally to remove the batteries and put them back in. Don’t know why, but that’s all it was.

  5. 5
    Poopyman says:

    Some mice come with a CD, which may or may not work with an Apple. But you should certainly check the Targus website for software for your model mouse. That should give you more control over it.

  6. 6

    Also, if you have a wireless mouse and a bluetooth mouse, have you checked to make sure the old one is still not connected? If your computer is picking up the signal of two separate mice it could mess up the connection.

  7. 7
    DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice. says:

    @Eric U.:

    I don’t have admin privileges on my office computer, so I can’t adjust shit.

  8. 8
    Violet says:

    Not sure about Macs, but my PC has a separate pointer speed for the mouse and the touchpad. Maybe you need to double check for that?

  9. 9
    vtr says:

    Do NOT email Steve about this!

  10. 10
    Cris says:

    Is the defective scrollwheel on a Mighty Mouse? I’m asking because I was considering getting one (I want a scrollwheel mouse for use with Google Sketchup).

  11. 11
    kdaug says:

    August is on the right track, but more importantly, make sure you have uninstalled the drivers for your old mouse. Sometimes two sets of drivers can have an additive effect. Of course, sometimes they cancel each other out, and sometimes it has no effect whatsoever. But the first think to do is make sure any old mouse drivers are uninstalled.

  12. 12
    Violet says:

    Definitely remove any trace of the old mouse. Then reboot. Then add the new mouse. Then reboot. Then if it doesn’t work or find the drivers on its own, add the proper drivers. Reboot.

    Computers are supposed to be so simple. Just zeros and ones. Yet they are so finicky and have such pissy personalities sometimes.

  13. 13
    castellan says:

    If you’re using a Windows PC and don’t have admin privileges, and you’re not afraid to get a little dirty:

    1. Download Trinity Rescue Kit:
    2. Burn the image to a CD
    3. Disconnect your PC from the network.
    4. Reboot, using the CD
    5. Change the local administrator account password. Make it blank (i.e. no password)
    6. Reboot after removing the CD
    7. Log in as the administrator and make whatever changes you need.
    8. Reboot, reconnect to network.

    IT departments that lock you out of being able to manage your own workstation are the ultimate form of evil.

  14. 14
  15. 15
    CJ says:

    Not to be pedantic, but a laser mouse is not really a laser and it is optical.

    Be careful with buying a mouse for your Mac. I just had to replace a Logitech mouse that is in itself fine, but the software/drivers for the Mac crashed repeatedly, resulting in the spinning wheel of death all the time.



  16. 16
    Don Elliott says:

    Former Mac Genius here. The “defective trackball on Mighty Mouse” is almost always just a little dirt on the ball. Take your soft, lintfree, screen-cleaning cloth (you do have one, don’t you?), apply a touch of your screen cleaner, and rub the trackball firmly for a few seconds in all directions. This almost always works, saving many trips to the Genius Bar.

  17. 17
    vtr says:

    In the upper left corner of the screen, click the Apple to open the pulldown menu, and click “system preferences.” in the middle of the box that opens, click on the mouse symbol, and that will let you change the functions of the mouse. I know you already know this, and I have insulted your intelligence, and ask you forgiveness.

  18. 18
    kdaug says:

    @Violet: Yep, that’s the procedure. It makes sense, though – drivers are loaded on boot, so if you haven’t rebooted after uninstalling, the old ones are still loaded in memory (and you still have old registry entries). And once you install new drivers, you have to reboot to get them to load.

  19. 19
    Martin says:

    I’ve never had this as a lingering problem. Have you restarted the machine? Sometimes swapping out mice causes them to not pick up the driver settings properly and they’ll do this briefly. A restart has always addressed that for me.

    My bluetooth optical mouse always does that about 10-15 seconds after it pairs up, but then it behaves as I’ve set in the drivers.

  20. 20
    ChrisS says:

    Get a mac.

    Oh, wait, wha-?

    In other news, my fantasy football team is a complete joke.

  21. 21
    Ripley says:

    Low tech possibility: when I switched to an optical mouse, I found the kind of surface I was using it on made a difference in overall ‘cursor spasticity.’ Reflective surfaces are the worst; a mouse pad (or even a piece of card stock) helped a lot.

  22. 22
    fasteddie9318 says:

    I cannot believe that Obama ordered the assassination of your mouse, an American mouse that should have had all the rights of American electronic gear. This outrage shall not stand!

    Wait, am I in the right thread?

  23. 23
    4tehlulz says:

    Is your mouse on anything with designs? Laser mice can get crazy if used on something other than a plain surface.

  24. 24
    Corner Stone says:

    @fasteddie9318: Bullshit! I heard from my sister’s ex-boyfriend’s roomate’s cousin that no good mouse had been videoed eating cheese with some real nasty sewer rats. And talking much smack about how it was gonna cause some inadvertent clicks for insertion points on a document!
    Fucker deserved everything he got, if you ask me.

  25. 25
    Barkley G says:

    Doug – You need to stay away from the mice with

    “Fully Functioning Human Brains”

    I think that is probably your problem with your new mouse.

  26. 26
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Actually I think Tunch is controlling your mouse. He watches your every move and he is always there.

  27. 27
    Matt says:

    The drivers for Apple mice are built into the OS and cannot be “uninstalled,” but are not active unless an Apple-branded mouse is connected. Whether via direct connection or Bluetooth, mice are internally regarded as USB HI (human input) devices, and drivers are matched to specific devices.

    For third party mice, I highly recommend Alessandro Levi Montalcini’s USB Overdrive X, the Mac OS X version of his universal mouse driver that he’s been working on for about 15 years, if not longer. It allows much better controlling of tracking speed for any USB device, it supports keyboards and joysticks, and lets you create custom settings for each device and for each application, or both. It lets you assign many more diverse functions to extra mouse buttons, and on my various machines, it is rock solid. The shareware trial period is unlimited in both duration and features.

    When our newsletters resume publication, USB Overdrive X will get our “Seal of Utility” because we use it every day and recommend it to anyone with any kind of USB HI device frustration. It’s just a very solid product.

  28. 28
    stuckinred says:

    Hanoi Jane is fucking with John Cole big time!

    “And it’s no mystery why freshly minted Democrat John Cole was cheerleading the comfortable familiarity of a Republican health care bill – after its passage, Nancy Pelosi quickly sent out an email bragging that its underlying principles were written by the Heritage Foundation, with the helpful quote that “Democrats have been less than true to their principles.”

  29. 29
    Comrade Kevin says:

    @stuckinred: Yeah, really, no wonder the Republicans all voted for it –

    oh, wait.

    What an idiot.

  30. 30
    Michael Finn says:

    Check to see if the DPI of the mouse can be changed.

    Going from a 400 to 1000 DPI can have drastic changes.

  31. 31
    daveNYC says:

    And double check that you don’t have acceleration enabled.

  32. 32
    Violet says:

    From the post:

    Axelrod said plenty during the health care fight actually. The self-described “populist” was feeding dutiful JournoList scribes like Jon Chait, Matt Yglesias and John Cole cues to attack the “left” for raising justified concerns about both the bill, and what it would mean for the Democratic Party:

    I thought John Cole wasn’t on JournoList? Am I misremembering?

  33. 33
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Violet: She isn’t even “left,” she’s just a dick.

  34. 34
    Caladan says:

    There are a couple of things you should check:

    the Mouse and Keyboard control panel will allow you to adjust the tracking speed.

    make sure that the surface you are using has a low reflectivity. A highly reflective surface can cause the mouse to mis-read your movements, making a small movement into a large one. I recommend using a mouse pad with a dull or muted pattern.

  35. 35
    goblue72 says:

    @stuckinred: To paraphrase Robert Ebert – five years from now, John Cole will be posting photos of Tunch and making mojitos. And Jan Hamsher will still be an attention-seeking Hollywood has-been.

  36. 36
    srv says:

    If you have wrist strain/carpal tunnel issues, dump whatever you have and get Evoluent.

    I’ve theorized for 25 years that most computer users issues are mouse-based and not keyboard. Everyone I’ve sent to this mouse raves about it.

    *I have no financial or investment ties to this product

  37. 37
    Michael Finn says:

    I’m pretty sure she means Juan Cole

  38. 38
    Violet says:

    @Michael Finn:
    If she does, she’s really confused since she links to Balloon-Juice.

  39. 39
    eemom says:

    You should’ve got one of those new Human Brain mouses they make in Delaware.

  40. 40
  41. 41
    eemom says:

    @John Cole:

    Weeellll, John? Still think Lady Jane is a really “nice” person who “wants the best for this country”?


  42. 42
    Culture of Truth says:

    OMG a Tom Coburn ad

    my eyes my eyes

  43. 43
    Michael Finn says:

    Well, Juan Cole was a member of JournoList…

  44. 44
    Poopyman says:

    @stuckinred: Wow. She’s using the ol’ shotgun approach to taking down Axelrod there. Of course, nobody’s going to pay much attention to her anyway, but even less so when she’s pulling in very tenuous connections like BJ.

    And IIRC, Cole pointedly said he wasn’t on Journolist. Or am I misremembering again?

  45. 45
    Poopyman says:

    @Violet: Yeah. Linking here. I’m not seeing that it materially strengthens her argument. I mean, the post is literally “What Chait Said”. So what?

    ETA: Hey Doug, howzabout throwing up an open thread so we don’t poop all over your tech question?

  46. 46
    scav says:

    Yes, please, open thread because I’m laughing too hard at the FBI not even being ept enough to cheat on its own exams properly and that minor (but satisfying) giggle should not clutter up the more important Torture and Tech issues.

    Suspicions were raised when many passed the 90-minute exam in just 20 minutes.

    Over 200 agents finishing a 90 minute exam in in under 20 min. I mean, what are kids learning in college anymore?!

    BBC version

  47. 47
    eemom says:


    And name it “Jane Hamsher Sux Open Thread”, also too. kthxbai

  48. 48


    Axelrod said plenty during the health care fight actually. The self-described “populist” was feeding dutiful JournoList scribes like Jon Chait, Matt Yglesias and John Cole cues to attack the “left” for raising justified concerns about both the bill, and what it would mean for the Democratic Party:

    I highly doubt Cole was on JournoList, and anyone who considers him a “scribe” a la the Juicebox Mafia kiddies is a fucking moron.

    ETA: I see several others beat me to this. But it bears repeating.

  49. 49
    Calming Influence says:

    “Get a mac.

    Oh, wait, wha-?”

    Hah! Thanks for that; it needed to be said. Excuse me now while I duck and cover.

  50. 50
    DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice. says:


    Just natural wood grain. Could that be enough to screw it up?

  51. 51
    Catsy says:


    Not to be pedantic, but a laser mouse is not really a laser and it is optical.

    Not to be pedantic, but you have been misinformed.

    There are mechanical and optical mice. The mechanical mice measure movement using mechanical action, such as a physical ball or rollers. Optical mice measure movement by illuminating the moving surface (or the roller in the case of an optical trackball).

    Most optical mice illuminate the working surface using LEDs, but many newer mice use lasers for greater precision, and it is absolutely correct to refer to one as a “laser mouse”.

  52. 52
    scav says:

    @scav: satisfying and horrifying giggle, let me re-iterate because it seems to have been an OPEN BOOK test. Immoral or Inept seem to be our options here and they’re the best and the brightest we’re supposed to trust our everything to without oversight? Hell, it’s the test on the guidelines for domestic investigations.

  53. 53
    stuckinred says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Dog, I am pasting in her text, she called John by name twice, she’s a pain in the ass but she knows how to spell.

  54. 54
    Poopyman says:

    @DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice.:
    You know what would work for you?

    Granite countertops.

  55. 55
    Gromit says:

    I never install the manufacturer’s mouse drivers. For simple mice, the Mac OS does a fine job, and for mice with loads of buttons I’ve yet to see a manufacturer’s driver that does a better job and is more stable than a third-party driver like USB Overdrive. The only reason I don’t use USB Overdrive now is because ControllerMate offers more flexibility in configuring the tilt-wheel on my Logitech mouse, though it is not nearly as straightforward to set up.

  56. 56
    Snark Based Reality says:

    I’m glad the business and economics editor for this fine site knows about as much about using a mouse or a computer as the average business reporter.

    When did Balloon Juice become part of the MSM? When does this site get a Money Honey?

  57. 57
    mac says:

    Another low-tech possibility: I’ve heard that using a flat black mouse pad is the best surface.

  58. 58
    electricgrendel says:

    Can’t you adjust the mouse sensitivity in the System Preferences of an Apple? You should also use it a nonreflective surface if you aren’t already.

  59. 59
    Amir_Khalid says:

    @scav: Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity.

    No doubt J. Edgar Hoover is turning in his grave. Why can’t the FBI just follow his hallowed tradition, the recreational wearing of gender-inappropriate clothing?

  60. 60
    DPirate says:

    Maybe someone said this, but if possible you should lower the dpi.

  61. 61
    Michael Finn says:

    Hey, I took the military entrance exam and I finished it in 20 minutes.

    /Got a 90

  62. 62
    BruceJ says:

    Some laser mice have severe tracking problems with patterned formica desktops (some woodgrain patterns in particular). Put a piece of paper under the mouse and see if it’s the issue.

    For some reason the ‘light beige’ wood grain favored by the folks who supplied desks on one of our buildings likes to drive these mice crazy.

    Real wood doesn’t cause it because real wood has a 3D surface that reflects the laser in different fashions.

  63. 63
    daveNYC says:

    If you have wrist strain/carpal tunnel issues, dump whatever you have and get Evoluent.

    I too will pimp the Evoluent mouse. It really helped with my wrist when I got one for the work computer.

  64. 64
    Calming Influence says:

    I was just checking out the Evoluent mouse, and I think I came up with a cheaper solution: I put a couple of 2x4s under the right legs of my chair, so that now my entire body is leaning to the left at a 30 degree angle (I’m using a bunch of bungee cords to keep me from falling over). Now my normal mouse feels awesome! I just have to tilt my keyboard and monitor, but I’m afraid to move…

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