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Apple's standard mouse is called the Mighty Mouse. It comes in two flavors, wired USB and wireless Bluetooth. I find that both work very well, are easy to use and conform well to my hand. But both are an unusual design and both suffer from a serious problem, they are unreliable. When they work, they work well. They just "break" too often. The "breakage" results from contamination of the scroll ball, which can often be fixed... at least for a while.
The Mighty Mouse is a "three button" mouse with accessory side buttons. I find the side buttons nearly useless as I press them accidently too often so I disable that feature. The mouse itself has THREE buttons on top. If you press on the left side of the trackball and you get a left click. Press on the right side, WITH YOUR LEFT FINGER LIFTED, and you get a right click. It is important to lift a finger on the unused side as there is really only one button, the whole mouse body rotates and clicks. A pair of sensors inside the mouse detect if a finger is pressed on the left or right sides. When both sides are pressed, the mouse interprets that as a left click. Press the ball and you get a third click. The things that these clicks do are settable in the Mouse Preference Pane.
The Mighty Mouse has a very small trackball, I call it a trackpea because that is about as big as it is. When it works, the trackpea works fine, scrolling up and down and sideways is quick and easy. The problem is that it often stops working and it is troublesome to clean, sometimes cleaning just doesn't work.
The trackpea is incredibly sensitive to contamination, ESPECIALLY FINELY GROUND SALT. Since nobody eats salty snacks while at the keyboard this should not be a problem... right. In any event, any fine contamination can ride the trackpea down inside the mouse and deposit itself on the encoder rollers under the trackpea. These are NOT physically accessible. When the rollers collect enough crud, which isn't much, the trackpea will stop working. Usually the up or down motion stops while the side to side motion keeps working.
There are notes all over the internet describing Mighty Mouse problems and fixes. Google for a recent list. This is my contribution which has worked most of the time. Once I just had to change it out because it was so dirty that no amount of cleaning would restore it to operation. Fortunately, Apple did this under my AppleCare warranty.
The Mighty Mouse can often be cleaned with a damp paper towel but it takes some patience.
Fold a paper towel to quarter size and dampen part of it.
Rub the trackpea with the dampened part of the towel. Do this for a minute or so such that a fair amount of moisture is transferred by the trackpea to the encoder rollers inside.
Note that even though the trackpea was light gray to start with, after a few rolls, it gets dark gray, streaky and may have chunks of black crud on it. This is stuff that was on the rollers that the moisture has softened or dissolved.
Restrain the rotation of the trackpea with a fingernail and rub the wet crud off the trackpea with the dry portion of the towel.
Allow the trackpea to rotate a little and do the next section. Repeat until the trackpea is light gray again.
Then retreat the trackpea with the moistened paper towel and repeat as often as necessary until the trackpea doesn't transfer any more crud to the surface.
Test the Mighty Mouse scrolling. It will probably NOT work at all.
If it doesn't work, press hard on the trackpea and rotate it vigorously. This tends to break up more of the crud that is still on the rollers. If more crud comes up, clean it off.
If it still doesn't work, let it dry out for a couple of days and test it again. Press hard on the trackpea and rotate it vigorously again.
Most of the time, it will start working again. Sometimes no amount of cleaning will clear it. Apple's famous product design process fell down on this product. It needs way more work. Perhaps a very small trackpad would be work better than a mechanical trackpea.
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This page has been accessed times since October 8, 2008
© 2008-2009 George Schreyer
Created Oct 8, 2008
Last Updated October 7, 2009