When Will Apple Deliver A Decent Mouse?

May 22nd, 2007

Years ago, I actually believed that an Apple mouse was the bee’s knees. It was small, comfortable, or I believed it was at the time. I couldn’t understand why you needed multiple buttons, special software or how your hand could possibly cope with all those strange shapes and sizes.

I remember actually ordering a semi-custom mouse some years back, one that was designed to fit the approximate size of your hand. I made the proper measurements and all per the written instructions, but the product I received was way too large for comfort. After a day or two of frustration, I set it aside and retrieved the Apple mouse.

Today I’m older, though maybe not wiser. But I’ve reached the point where the flat Apple mouse exacts too much of a penalty on my aging wrists at the end of a long workday. I also became accustomed to having a minimum of two buttons and a scroll wheel, and eventually settled on products from Logitech and Microsoft as my preferred input devices.

Over the years, I was happy to join the chorus of those who suggested Apple was making a huge mistake confining itself to one button. I could sympathize with the desire to keep it simple. In fact, I find that a lot of Windows users never get the hang of the right mouse button, and Mac users rarely master a Control-Click for a context menu.

But consider all those operating system features that go unused.

So when Apple introduced the Mighty Mouse, I was one of the first on the block to buy one. Only the nearest Apple Store ran out of stock after just a few hours, and the second Apple outlet in the area never got a shipment, nor did any third party dealers.

Well, I finally got one a few days later, and I tolerated it for a few days before returning to my Logitech wireless laser mouse. The Mighty Mouse’s tiny scroll button, touted as some sort of wonderful innovation, felt tiny, insignificant even in my long and thin hands. It also made my finger tingle slightly after a few hours of rapid scrolling.

The problem, of course, is that what is uncomfortable to me may be just ideal for you. Unfortunately, the Mighty Mouse comes in the same basic form factor as its single-button predecessor. Worse, the software is configured to operate in the same fashion unless you change to a right button configuration in the Mouse preference panel. Well, that’s the way it was then, and I haven’t checked the setup since.

I just wonder if the company who also brought you the infamous hockey puck mouse for early versions of the iMac has ever done any research to see what form factors are best suited for the widest number of people. Does Steve Jobs invited some physicians to assist in the research, or does he regard himself as the lone beta tester to determine what works and what doesn’t?

Well, maybe not, because the shape of the Mighty Mouse isn’t so different from older Apple mice, some models of which appeared during Steve’s absence from the company.

So where does Apple go from here? Will they ever provide a different types of input devices to accommodate the needs of Mac users of all sizes and shapes? Will the issue of eliminating wrist strain and injury inspire them to test some innovative designs?

Or will we have to hope and pray that Steve Jobs develops a case of carpel tunnel so he is compelled to inspire his troops to deliver something that has a higher comfort factor? Understand that I do not harbor any negative feelings towards Jobs. I have chatted with him briefly a few times and he seemed reasonably polite and all.

But that’s not the important thing, and, yes, I realize there are plentiful supplies of third-party input devices that will accommodate most anyone’s needs. I’m also certain that Apple’s decision to stick with a single design creates a climate for other companies to sell product to Mac users who are not satisfied with Apple’s offering, be it wired or wireless.

The Mac, however, is offered as a complete solution out of the box. Everything from unpacking the box to the initial setup experience is carefully considered and designed to deliver the highest level of satisfaction.

Until you unpack the mouse, that is. Or at least that’s my not-so-humble opinion.



Share
| Print This Article Print This Article

25 Responses to “When Will Apple Deliver A Decent Mouse?”

  1. Eric says:

    Hi Gene,

    I’ve got to disagree with you on this one. I really rate the Mighty Mouse – the wired one, as I’ve not used the wireless version. A big advantage is that it is the same for left-handed and right-handed people. A lot of mice are designed for right-handed people only. I really do think it’s the best mouse I’ve ever used, and I’ve been around for a long time and have used PCs a lot, as well as Macs. Have you ever gone back to a 1980s/1990s mouse and tried to use it? Or just back to a roller-ball mouse instead of a light-based mouse? You’d miss the Mightly Mouse if you did. And as for having lots of buttons, I know graphic designers and other specialists that swear by only using one button, and the right-click annoys them, so they turn it off. All said and done, I have to add that I was in a minority and REALLY LIKED the hockey-puck mouse when they were out!

  2. W says:

    You have a very valid point.
    The mighty mouse is indeed most uncomfortable.
    It also is not the most inspired design esthetically.
    And to add one point : along with the apple-keyboards it is impossible to clean.
    Stuff gets stuck in-between the keyboard keys + casing and mouse side buttons + rim underneath.
    I believe designers should seriously consider these issues.
    Apple give us a new keyboard and mouse design, and why not even a “choice” of designs.
    Hey, that’s a good idea !

  3. Ton says:

    Well, I’m a big fan of the Mighty Mouse. I love the way I can use my middlefinger to do the right click, and the scrollball is very effective for me. I hate those bigsy thingies. But the basic software that comes with it is way to basic for me. I use Steer Mouse to expose the glorious possibilties of the MM. Anyway, I think the mouse will be out soon. I suspect a nice wacom tablet style Apple input device will be showing up soon, with a lot of Multi-Touch capabilties build-in. Think of it as a ‘giant’ trackpad, where one can use any finger combination to do magic things on the main screen. Bring on the gestures too. I would buy it in a sec (just as I did with the Mighty Mouse, btw).

  4. Hi Gene,

    I’ve got to disagree with you on this one. I really rate the Mighty Mouse – the wired one, as I’ve not used the wireless version. A big advantage is that it is the same for left-handed and right-handed people. A lot of mice are designed for right-handed people only. I really do think it’s the best mouse I’ve ever used, and I’ve been around for a long time and have used PCs a lot, as well as Macs. Have you ever gone back to a 1980s/1990s mouse and tried to use it? Or just back to a roller-ball mouse instead of a light-based mouse? You’d miss the Mightly Mouse if you did. And as for having lots of buttons, I know graphic designers and other specialists that swear by only using one button, and the right-click annoys them, so they turn it off. All said and done, I have to add that I was in a minority and REALLY LIKED the hockey-puck mouse when they were out!

    I understand the left-handed dilemma. I write with my left hand, but mastered the mouse with my right, which I soon discovered is a huge benefit.

    Logitech and other companies do provide a small selection of products to accommodate southpaws. Again, this is a matter of personal taste, clearly. But I don’t think, as Ton says, that the touch pad is the ultimate solution. I tolerate the trackpad on my MacBook Pro, but I’m not entirely comfortable with that setup, although I realize that having a separate mouse when the notebook is on your lap is not an alternative.

    Peace,
    Gene

  5. tundraboy says:

    MacMice builds a better mouse, functionally and aesthetically. Tried the Mighty Mouse, went back to MacMice.

  6. Ton says:

    You have a very valid point.
    The mighty mouse is indeed most uncomfortable.
    It also is not the most inspired design esthetically.
    And to add one point : along with the apple-keyboards it is impossible to clean.
    Stuff gets stuck in-between the keyboard keys casing and mouse side buttons rim underneath.
    I believe designers should seriously consider these issues.
    Apple give us a new keyboard and mouse design, and why not even a “choice” of designs.
    Hey, that’s a good idea !

    Cleaning the Mighty Mouse is easy, as I found out when mine got stuck in all directions. I gave it a stand upper in a glass filled with 96% alcohol liquid just so the scrollball went wet behind its ears, pushed and shoved the scrollball ‘under water’ a couple of times, and let the mouse dry after its 15 minutes bath for the rest of the night. Next day I got an all new, shiny white and very flexible mighty mouse that could do all its tricks. No need to take it apart and dismantle the poor little thing.
    I do agree on the Apple Keyboard cleaning situation though. While it can be done rather easily (had to take an afternoon off for that!) the keyboard gets more dirty faster than any other keyboard in Apple history (and I’ve been around for a long, long time). I still hope for a ‘pro’ version of the original iMac keyboard (the same one that was shipped with the early G4’s if I remember correctly). That one had a nice touch & feel, though it was a bit on the small side.

  7. Jurgen says:

    Hi Gene,

    my experience is a different one to yours. When I got my iBook, I bought myself one of Microsoft ergonomic keyboards with a mouse. I loved that setup up, until the Mighty Mouse came out. As the setup was still working fine, I did not buy the new contender, but waited until I bought my MacBook Pro. I am using now the wireless keyboard in combination with the wireless Mighty Mouse. What a difference! The keyboard does not make the noise, I got accustomed to from my Microsoft keyboard and the mouse just works. Sure, I had to get used to it, but after a few days I did not miss my old mouse any longer. The more simplistic design does work for me. It lies good in my hand and the scroll button really works for me. The other plus: There is much less cable clutter on my desk, though both setups are wireless.
    At the end of the day, it comes down to taste and what you are accustomed to. The Mighty Mouse works for me and I am absolutely happy with it.

  8. Hi Gene,

    my experience is a different one to yours. When I got my iBook, I bought myself one of Microsoft ergonomic keyboards with a mouse. I loved that setup up, until the Mighty Mouse came out. As the setup was still working fine, I did not buy the new contender, but waited until I bought my MacBook Pro. I am using now the wireless keyboard in combination with the wireless Mighty Mouse. What a difference! The keyboard does not make the noise, I got accustomed to from my Microsoft keyboard and the mouse just works. Sure, I had to get used to it, but after a few days I did not miss my old mouse any longer. The more simplistic design does work for me. It lies good in my hand and the scroll button really works for me. The other plus: There is much less cable clutter on my desk, though both setups are wireless.
    At the end of the day, it comes down to taste and what you are accustomed to. The Mighty Mouse works for me and I am absolutely happy with it.

    I use a Microsoft Comfort keyboard. It’s not as eccentric a shape as the ergonomic variety, but still is smooth and comfortable.

    Peace,
    Gene

  9. Don says:

    I think what this really proves is that with different size hands, different flexibilities, and different uses, no single mouse or keyboard is going to please everyone. Some people love the old one-button. Some love the mighty one. Some prefer MS or Logitech or something else. I doubt that there will ever be a mouse that will please every one unless it has a configurable shape and a changing number of buttons. Hmm…….

  10. Tom B says:

    I use a “hockey puck” from the G4 “Yikes” era. I am perfectly happy with it. I have yet to find a PC mouse that tracks as nicely as any of the Apple mice– but I haven’t done serious research in the matter; I only get exposed to PC’s at work, and the mice are probably just what “came in the box”.

  11. I think what this really proves is that with different size hands, different flexibilities, and different uses, no single mouse or keyboard is going to please everyone. Some people love the old one-button. Some love the mighty one. Some prefer MS or Logitech or something else. I doubt that there will ever be a mouse that will please every one unless it has a configurable shape and a changing number of buttons. Hmm…….

    I think, at the very least, Apple should produce a clever alternative. The question is this: Is the existing Mighty Mouse the best compromise for the largest number of Mac users? That’s worth a debate.

    Peace,
    Gene

  12. Dana Sutton says:

    I. m. h. o. the Kensington Expert Mouse (i. e., the 4-button trackball) beats the socks off any available mouse. It’s got great ergonomics: very easy on the hand and, since it doesn’t move, you never have to grope around to find it. And it comes with terrific software (a factor not to be neglected in choosing an imput device). Also, I’ve had mine for several problem-free years. N. b.: I’m talking about the wired version, the wireless version goes through batteries like there’s no tomorrow.

  13. I. m. h. o. the Kensington Expert Mouse (i. e., the 4-button trackball) beats the socks off any available mouse. It’s got great ergonomics: very easy on the hand and, since it doesn’t move, you never have to grope around to find it. And it comes with terrific software (a factor not to be neglected in choosing an imput device). Also, I’ve had mine for several problem-free years. N. b.: I’m talking about the wired version, the wireless version goes through batteries like there’s no tomorrow.

    Ah yes, the product formerly known as Turbo Mouse. Alas, I’ve tried it, but it didn’t appeal to me. It just felt awkward, and goes to show the difficulty of appealing to everyone.

    Peace,
    Gene

  14. David says:

    My biggest problem with the Mighty Mouse is the fact that it’s touch sensitive rather than mechanical. I rest my fingers on the top of my mouse because that’s the most comfortable way to use it. In order to perform a right click I press down with one finger. To do the same on a Mighty Mouse would require me to lift one finger and press down with another. I’ve tried it and found it got painful after only a few minutes.

  15. My biggest problem with the Mighty Mouse is the fact that it’s touch sensitive rather than mechanical. I rest my fingers on the top of my mouse because that’s the most comfortable way to use it. In order to perform a right click I press down with one finger. To do the same on a Mighty Mouse would require me to lift one finger and press down with another. I’ve tried it and found it got painful after only a few

    My experience as well, David. Awkward and then some.

    Peace,
    Gene

  16. Sprocket999 says:

    Jeez — I just use a wired Apple Mouse from about 2002 or so. As a guy whose business has him on the Mac all day, I sure don’t experience those issues. Control-click? This is difficult to master? Oh yes, I also use a 12″ PowerBook and I’m well over 50(!) for what it is worth. I have to agree with the various posters here that there is a level of personal preference that comes into play, but that isn’t any excuse to call Apples mice less than decent. So as far as I’m concerned, they delivered the first decent one back about 1995-6(?) or so — the bar of Dove soap. I loved that one and still use it with my PowerBook 3400c. (I have a rare black one too in mint condition!)

    To each his own, though.

  17. Scott Baret says:

    As a veteran Apple user, I’ve used almost every mouse Apple has produced. My favorite is the mouse that originally was sold as an extra for the Apple IIc. It’s the same serial connection as the first-generation Mac mouse (commonly referred to as a Mac Plus mouse) yet the button is more recessed. What I like about this mouse is that it is heavy, fits my hand nicely, and has a very comfortable clicker. These mice aren’t too commonplace and can be identified by their unique and uniform Apple IIc white colour. I have one connected to my Mac Plus (which I still use on a regular basis).

    The only Apple mouse I really haven’t liked is the Mighty Mouse. I, for one, like having one button. Two buttons and a scroll wheel are nice, but I’m just as content using the scroll bar or arrow keys and the control-click combination. It’s the same profile as the old ProMouse, which I like, but it’s that little scroll ball that makes me dislike it. It’s like a big pimple on the mouse that you just want to pop (or at least take some Benzoyl Peroxide to). It’s uncomfortable to use. Why not put a comfortable scroll wheel on there like many of the Logitech and Microsoft models out there?

  18. steve says:

    I really like the Mighty Mouse, too. I didn’t expect to. I didn’t much like it when I configured it as a two-button mouse, and I can’t use the side buttons, either. I tend to squeeze the side of the mouse when I’m moving it around. In single-button mode I can use it just like my old Apple mice, using my whole hand rather than pushing buttons with fingers. I find the latter quite tiring in a short time, and can see why people who do lots of mousing like that could get aches and pains. The Mighty Mouse fits right under my size of hand. Someone with a dainty hand or a big paw might well have a very different experience.

    I even like the little scroll ball. I figured that I wouldn’t, but I actually do use the thing. I like the fact that in many programs it scrolls horizontally and diagonally and not just vertically. And it doesn’t get in my way. Big honkin’ scroll wheels are major globs that don’t let me rest my hand on the mouse in any comfortable way. But I guess if my employer forced me to use a PC all day, I’d adapt, and that would feel normal after a while, even if my hand hurt by the end of the day.

  19. Travis Butler says:

    I think, at the very least, Apple should produce a clever alternative. The question is this: Is the existing Mighty Mouse the best compromise for the largest number of Mac users? That’s worth a debate.

    Peace,
    Gene

    I’m not sure the Mighty Mouse is the best *possible* compromise for the greatest number of Mac users, but I do think it’s a far better compromise than the vast majority of third-party mice out there.

    First off, I agree both vehemently and wholeheartedly that Apple should keep it simple. Just about everyone I know who is not a (for lack of a better term) higher-intensity computer user ignores the right button. Keeping things as simple as possible, until the user decides to ‘unlock’ the extra features (like keyboard shortcuts) is arguably the core of the Mac experience, and without trying to replay the entire two-button mouse argument I submit that the Mighty Mouse design is an archtypical example of this: acts perfectly well as a single-button mouse, but two-button operation available should the user decide to unlock it.

    Second, I think highly-sculpted mouse designs are a very individual matter, depending a great deal on the construction of your hand, and therefore the less-sculpted a mouse is, the more suitable it’s going to be for a wider range of users. The current candy-bar shape may not be as suitable for someone with larger hands who prefers a lot of lower palm support, but they can at least use it; a more massive mouse with a large and high rear palm rest might be more comfortable for them, but it wouldn’t work at all for someone with smaller hands. My personal favorite is probably the old Logitech Wheel Mouse (definitely *NOT* the current one), which is somewhere in between, but I’d imagine it’s still too high and hand-filling for many people.

    The old Dove-bar ADB mouse was a very nicely shaped one, I agree.

    One other thought I had about the perfectly symmetrical shapes of all the ‘clear’ Apple USB mice: they aren’t biased towards any particular style of holding or gripping the mouse, and maybe that’s the biggest reason why it was made that way.

  20. bud says:

    I like the shape of the MightyMouse, which is why I have one, but have found it mostly useless as a 2 button mouse, which is why when I had some software that really does benefit from multiple mouse buttons, I bought a 3rd party 2 button plus scrollwheel mouse.

    I still do not automatically hanker for the two buttons though, I have had too many years of option and command clicking.

Leave Your Comment