Mouse Matters and Maintenance from the January 2002 newsletter

by Rob Zorn

Okay, so you've had your computer for about a year, and you notice that over time, your mouse seems to have been sluggish. It almost feels like your mousepad is too slippery and the mouse ball isn't turning as well as it should. You have to press hard and run it across the mousepad a couple of times in order to get the pointer where you want it. Does any of that sound familiar?If so, you might just have a mucky mouse. You may be tempted to go out to the PC Company and buy a new one, but chances are you won't have to. All you need to do is a little gentle mouse maintenance to have the little rodent speeding around your screen once again.

Hint: Carry out the cleaning instructions below with your computer switched off. It is pretty hard to remove and replace the ball cover without clicking all sorts of mouse buttons all over the place.

Cleaning a mouse is pretty easy. You should see that the underside of your mouse has a round turning cover plate through which the mouse ball is just able to make contact with the mouse pad. Turn this cover plate anticlockwise to release the window and remove the ball. Please resist the temptation to see how bouncy the ball is. Inside a standard mouse there are three plastic rollers, and the chances are that each will be ringed with tightly wound fluff. Gently scrape the fluff away with something small (e.g. a penknife blade) until all the plastic is clean and exposed again. Be firm but gentle. It is the only way to deal with mice. Replace the ball and cover, and you should find your mouse has a new lease of life.

The specimen pictured here is a skody individual indeed. The picture reveals two of the rollers (you can see one of the thin black ones near the top of the hole and the larger white one to the lower right. The white roller has an obvious ring of dirt around it that probably needs to be picked out with tweezers.

You can also play with your mouse settings. These can be found, for Windows machines, under "Mouse" in your Control Panel. (Click the Start button, then Settings, then Control Panel, and then doubleclick the Mouse icon. Under the Mouse Properties box that pops up you can change your mouse from right to left handed, select a different pointer, as well as a few other things. You can adjust the speed at which it moves too. Go easy here - getting used to a fast mouse after using a slow one can be as difficult as it was to first learn to use one at all!

Mouse settings for a Macintosh are found in the Control Panel (Apple menu/Control Panels/ Mouse) for all Macs apart from OS X. For OS X, try Preferences/Mouse.