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The Nillabyte Perspective: Technology

Apple's New Magic Mouse: Sweet Relief Comes To Some Mac Users

I have always felt that one of the very few deficits of the Mac has been its mouse. The Mighty Mouse has been a device of frustration for years now. Pointing and clicking has always worked, but the faulty scroll ball has caused the blood pressure of many Mac users to quickly rise. But yesterday, the scrollball was finally eliminated from Apple's mouse. Sort of.

Apple's new mouse, dubbed Magic Mouse, brings multi-touch technology to the desktop mouse. The entire top surface of the mouse is smooth and is the multi-touch surface. It still points and clicks just as its predecessors, but the multi-touch surface allows finger gestures.

Fingering The MAgic Mouse

A user can use gestures to scroll in webpages and documents, pan in images, and swipe to go back or forward in the web browser. The gestures can be user customized. The new mouse comes standard with every new iMac, but users can also order the Magic Mouse for their current Mac (requires Mac Os X 10.5.8 or higher).


Although the multi-touch technology found in the new Magic Mouse is cool, I wonder how many people will actually use the gestures. Most average users are content with the status quo when it comes to I/O devices. Introducing new input methods for a traditional desktop computer setup can be a challenge for the manufacture as it requires the user to be retrained.

The multi-touch finger gestures that the Magic Mouse supports have been supported on Mac laptops for quite some time now. But I don't see very many using them. When I show someone the gestures on their MacBook, they are amazed, but seldom end up using them since they don't offer any real convenience. For example, there is a gesture on the MacBook that will switch applications, but there is a much more efficient way of doing that with an easier keyboard shortcut.

Although I am doubtful that many people will end up using the majority of gestures on the Magic Mouse, there is one that I am sure everyone will use and find to be easier than on the Mighty Mouse—scrolling.

Sweet Relief

Finally, no more screwy scrollball. Mac users can finally scroll up and down in documents without having to clean their mouse every 10 minutes! Apple's previous mouse, Mighty Mouse, was first introduced in August of 2005. It instantly began receiving criticisms, mainly directed at the little tiny scrollball which allowed a user to scroll 360°. When the ball worked it was useful, but when it didn't work it made you want to toss the thing onto the floor and run it over with your office chair.

Frequently, the scrollball would become gummed up and unresponsive due to oil and dirt becoming lodged in the mechanism. For over 4 years now, Apple's solution wasn't to produce a better mouse, it was to tell customers to clean the mouse. Well, cleaning the mouse was only a temporary fix. Depending on frequency of use, the scrollball would need cleaning every week or every day. For someone like me who sweats Crisco, repeated hourly mouse cleaning has been needed for the past 4 years. Apple has finally given us relief! With the Magic Mouse a one finger gesture can be used to scroll 360°.

Some Are Still Hosed

While the absence of a scrollball will make many happy, some Mac users may find themselves feeling left out in the cold as the Magic Mouse only comes in one model—wireless. There are benefits to a cordless mouse, mainly not having a cord to get tangled, but some still prefer a corded mouse. The cost of batteries can add up, corded mice are less expensive, and parents don't like their toddlers walking off with a $70 wireless mouse. For those of us who still need or prefer a corded mouse, we are still stuck with Apple's previous mouse, now simply called Apple Mouse.


  1. Matt's Avatar
    Sweat Crisco! Awesome! I'm going to use that... I've had exactly the same experience with my Mighty Mouse, and finally basically gave up trying to clean it. Hopefully this one will prove more useable! My order is in...
  2. macelly's Avatar
    I fully agree. The Mighty Mouse sucked! Too bad the Magic Mouse is only wireless though. Ii prefer wireless but I know several people who prefer corded. Apple sometimes seems to make some really bizarre business decisions.


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