This long page of this website deals with the PC mouse that uses either the PS/2 (the older) or the USB (the current) interface - or built-in Bluetooth technology. The USB interface can be used for a wired or a wireless mouse, including a wireless Bluetooth dongle. However, some laptop computers provide an inbuilt Bluetooth adapter that works in the same way as a wireless Wi-Fi network adapter - usually to run a keyboard and mouse set. In fact, a wireless Bluetooth adapter is listed under Network adapters in the Device Manager. Some common mouse problems are dealt with here. Although there is quite a bit of information on the humble mouse, it is a minor component that seldom goes wrong and when it does go wrong it just stops working or starts behaving erratically and just has to be replaced.
Everyone, even the most technologically illiterate of people, must know by now that the mouse (plural mice) is the essential device that is used with a PC to move the mouse pointer across the computer's screen to point and click on menu items, links, and icons in order to make them reveal and open or run their contents (menu items and programs). So essential is it to the use of a PC that you wouldn't even be reading this article if you didn't know how to use a mouse to access webpages.
Note that you can now buy a mouse that runs scanner software. The actual scanner is not required, just the mouse and the software. An example is the relatively inexpensive LG LSM-100 and LSM-150 Smart Scan scanner mouse. You just have to run the optical mouse over what you want scanned - a map, document, etc. - and you see on your screen what it has scanned. You just have to keep running the mouse over the blank areas until they are filled in. This means that you can scan large maps and documents very easily. The software that comes with the above-mentioned scanner-mouse can crop the image to your liking and do many other things.
Most wired and wireless computer mice use a USB 2.0 connection (USB 3.0 is available but isn't required to make a mouse work any better). For a wireless mouse, the wireless adapter is connected to a USB port on the computer. Bluetooth technology is also used for wireless printers, keyboards and mice. It uses the USB 2.0 interface if an adapter (dongle) is used. However, some desktop computers and most recent laptop computers come with a built-in Bluetooth adapter.
If you use more than one wireless keyboards and mice in the same room, they might interfere with each other, causing confusion and possible loss of data, so you must buy devices that don't interfere with each other.
Bluetooth wireless devices use pairing technology that pair the devices to a particular computer in order not to be affected by other wireless devices using the same 2.4GHz radio band.
Microsoft’s 2.4GHz wireless mice and keyboards are designed to function in an office environment in which many such devices are being used. Read the following PDF document on this subject:
Logitech Unifying receiver -
"The Logitech Unifying receiver is a small-size USB wireless receiver which permits up to 6 Logitech devices (such as mice and keyboards) to be linked to the same computer using 2.4 GHz band radio communication." -
It can be purchased from Amazon in the US and the UK for around £10/$10.
Note that USB 3.0, also known as SuperSpeed USB, is now available and all new PC motherboards and laptop computers provide it. A USB 3.0 device must be connected to a USB 3.0 port with a USB 3.0 cable, but a USB 3.0 port will run a USB 2.0 device with a USB 2.0 cable, because the port contains all of the USB 2.0 contacts and adds five new contacts that can only be engaged by using a USB 3.0 cable. A wired USB 3.0 keyboard and mouse comes with the cable attached to it. A wireless USB 3.0 dongle connecting a mouse, keyboard or connecting to a wireless router has to use a USB 3.0 port.
SuperSpeed USB 3.0 FAQ -
The following link provides a video showing the differences between PS/2, USB and FireWire cables. The FireWire interface is no currently used for computer mice and keyboards.
Note that some motherboards provide two separate PS/2 ports for a mouse and keyboard, but some recent motherboards provide a single PS/2 port that can accommodate a mouse or a keyboard. The MSI MS-7673 motherboard, shown in the image below, has a single PS/2 mouse/keyboard port on its ports panel (top port, far left). This is no doubt because most mice and keyboards are now USB devices. That motherboard provides two blue USB 3.0 ports and eight USB 2.0 ports.
The image at the top of this page is of a wired, optical, USB Microsoft Intellimouse. It draws its power via its USB cable that is usually connected to a USB port on the computer's motherboard at the front or back of the case, and uses a light sensor on its bottom surface to monitor its movements and translate them on to the computer's screen. When an optical mouse is working, its light on its underside, usually red, is on. Most mice are now optical or laser mice, but mice that use a roller ball are still available. The image below shows a roller-ball mouse. Both types can accumulate dirt that can make them behave erratically or not at all, so they must be cleaned. Cleaning instructions might be provided with a new mouse or can be found on the web. Here are instructions on both types of mouse:
How to Clean an Optical Mouse -
How to Clean a [Ball] Mouse -
A standard mouse uses a roller ball on its bottom surface to monitor its movements and translate them on to the screen. If you move an optical mouse (light-driven) or a standard mouse (ball-driven) in circles or up and down, the mouse pointer on the screen moves in circles or up and down, etc. A laser mouse is just an optical mouse that uses an infrared laser diode instead of an LED (light-emitting diode) as its light source. A laser diode is more precise than an LED diode, so if precision is required, you should use a laser mouse.
The standard mouse has a left and a right button, and usually has a scroll wheel between them that makes scrolling up or down a page possible when it is rolled one way or the other.
Most point-and-click operations are done by positioning the mouse pointer over a menu item, link, or icon and then clicking or double clicking the left mouse button, thereby activating the menu item, link, or icon to open a window or run a program. For example, clicking on any of the links on this page will take you to pages on this website, or to pages on other websites.
The right mouse button is usually used to gain access to parts of the operating system or program, such the menu window that presents itself when you position the mouse pointer over the Windows Start button (in the bottom left hand corner of the screen), and click the button on the right side of the mouse. Clicking with the right mouse button is referred to as right-clicking. Since left-clicking is used most of the time, it is just referred to as clicking (with the mouse).
You can now buy all kinds of wired and wireless mice that can do all kinds of things. For example, the Genius Navigator 380 is a conventional-looking silver mouse that can be flipped open and used as a VoIP Internet phone. To find vendors or more information on this mouse, you can conduct a web s earch for genius navigator 380.
A laser mouse is an optical mouse that uses an infrared laser diode instead of an LED (light-emitting diode) to track changes in the surface over which the mouse moves in order to translate that movement into the movement of the mouse pointer across the screen. A laser diode is more precise and more expensive than an LED diode, so laser mice similar features are usually, but not necessarily, more expensive than standard optical mice.
All computer devices require device-driver software that is supported by the make/version of the operating system in order to be able to function.
If Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 cannot detect the make and model of mouse and install the device driver from its driver library, when it detects new hardware it will ask you to insert the disc containing the driver, which will have come with a new mouse. If you don't install a driver, Windows will standard device driver for the mouse. If Windows installs the driver for the make/model of mouse automatically, or you install the driver when asked to do so, or it installs its standard mouse driver, you should visit the manufacturer's site for the latest driver (software) for that make/model of mouse, because the software is continually being updated.
The drivers are available for the different versions of Windows. The driver support depends on the manufacturer. For example, some manufacturers still provide drivers for Windows 98/Me, but others do not. Some manufacturers provide drivers for the Linux operating system; others don't.
Microsoft now only provides the drivers for Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 operating systems. The drivers are available for the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows. If you have a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7, you have to use the matching 32- or 64-bit driver. (Only Windows XP Professional has a 64-bit version.)
Finding out which bit version of Windows you have usually involves only opening System in the Control Panel, where the information is provided, using the Classic view in Vista and the View by: Small icons (or Large icons) in Windows 7.
How to determine whether your computer is running a 32-bit version or a 64-bit version of the Windows operating system -
The device driver information is available in the Device Manager under the heading Mice and other pointing devices. If the manufacturer's driver is installed, the make and model of mouse will be shown there.
In a Windows 95/98/Me system, the settings for the Keyboard and Mouse are found in the Start => Settings => Control Panel.
In Windows XP, the settings are also in the Control Panel under Keyboard and Mouse.
For Windows Vista, look under the Hardware and Sound category in the Control Panel. Look for Keyboards and Mice and other pointing devices.
To find the settings for the mouse in Windows 7, which is also in the Control Panel under the Hardware and Sound category when it is viewed by category, just enter the word mouse in the Start => Search programs and files box. The link at the top of the box called Mouse opens the settings window. Note that when you select to View by: large or small icons, the Control Panel items are listed instead of being categorised.
Note that you have always been able to set up the mouse for a left-handed person in Windows by reversing the left and right mouse buttons (the left button becomes the right button and vice versa).
To find out what is in the Control Panel in Windows Vista, read:
Using the Windows Vista Control Panel -
This video shows you how to use the Control Panel in Windows 7:
Windows 7 Video Guide: The Control Panel -
The situation with mice is much the same as with keyboards. You can purchase alternatives to the standard PS/2 mouse, such as optical mice. Optical mice use the changes detected in a beam of light from a light sensor at the bottom of the mouse instead of the movements of a roller-ball to create the movements of the cursor on the screen. Most wired mice are now optical mice, because they require less maintenance. The roller ball used in the first mice gets dirty and requires regular cleaning to keep the mouse functioning properly.
You can buy wired PS/2 and USB optical mice, and wireless optical mice. A cordless optical mouse that uses batteries and connects to the computer via a base unit can be purchased for around £24 or less, depending on where you buy it. Rechargeable wireless optical mice are also available. You attach them to a recharger.
The Optical Desktop with Fingerprint Reader is a keyboard and mouse set. The keyboard is wired and the mouse is wireless. The fingerprint reader can be used so that only users that have fingerprint profiles can gain access to the computer. I wouldn't use a fingerprint reader myself because devices of this kind tend to have poor reliability and I don't want to get locked out of my own computer.
Remember that wireless keyboards and mice are powered by batteries, which can be a nuisance to replace or recharge. However, Microsoft claims that its latest wireless mice provide up to six months of battery life.
A wireless mouse could have a radio transmitter that connects to the PS/2 mouse port itself, or to a USB port, or obtain a signal from an infrared (IR) port connected to the motherboard. A Bluetooth radio transmitter is usually connected to a USB port.
A basic PS/2 mouse with an ATX PS/2 connector costs as little as £5 to £10, and the fancier ones (cordless, etc.) can cost over £100.
To use a mouse with an old-style AT connector on redundant AT motherboards requires using an AT to ATX conversion plug. All motherboards are currently of the ATX or, to a much lesser extent, the BTX form factors. Visit the first Motherboards page on this website for information on motherboard form factors.
The PS/2 standard for mice and keyboards has been in existence since 1987 and is still supported by Windows 7, which is the latest incarnation of Windows that comes as several different versions. Apple has got rid of PS/2 ports in all of its desktop and laptop PCs but, at the time of writing this (May 2011), most desktop PC motherboard manufacturers still provide PS/2 ports for a mouse and keyboard on their motherboards, such as the current (Mat 2011) MSI MS-7673 motherboard, an image of the ports panel of which is shown at the top of this page. It provides only a single PS/2 port for a mouse or a keyboard.
That can be useful, because the other main standard used for mice and keyboards - USB - still has some flaws in its design that make it temperamental. Indeed, it is not uncommon to find that a USB keyboard and mouse don't work, and the only solution is to use a PS/2 alternative, provided that the PC's motherboard has a PS/2 mouse or keyboard port.
Many new PCs, particularly from Gateway and Dell, only provide USB ports. However, there are currently still many new brand-name computers, including most new PCs from HP, that also provide PS/2 ports.
Most of the keyboard and mouse manufacturers provide devices that can operate with both PS/2 and USB ports. Adapters are available or come with new mice and keyboards that enable a PS/2 device to plug into a USB port and a USB device to plug into a PS/2 port. Note that these adapters won't work with just any keyboard or mouse. The device has to be designed to work with both types of port.
Remember to purchase a mouse mat if your mouse uses a roller-ball on its underside to move the cursor on the screen. A mouse mat is not required for an optical mouse because the beam of light detects movement over the surface of a desk.
If you purchase a mouse that doesn't come with its drivers on a CD, Windows will automatically load a driver for it. This might not be the correct driver. Check in the Device Manager to see if the name of the mouse matches the mouse you have installed. If not, download the correct driver from the manufacturer's website.
If the PC's motherboard provides one or two PS/2 ports, PS/2 keyboard and mouse are connected to the PS/2 plugs on an ATX motherboard, as shown in the motherboard's manual.
Below is an illustration from an MSI motherboard manual of the location of the PS/2 mouse port on an ATX motherboard that has inbuilt sound and video chips and ports. The PS/2 port below it is for a PS/2 keyboard. There are two USB ports beside the two PS/2 ports. If the motherboard only provides USB 1.1 ports, you can install a PCI USB 2.0 adapter card that adds USB 2.0 ports to the system. The situation is the same if the motherboard only provides USB 2.0 ports - you can add USB 3.0 ports by using an adapter card .You can download the manuals for the latest MSI AMD-based and Intel-based motherboards free of charge from msi.com. You have to select a motherboard, which then provides its downloads.
The three large ports beside the two USB ports are legacy ports for old-technology devices that are no longer provided by most recent motherboards. The large port on the top of the two smaller ports is a parallel port for parallel devices such as a parallel printer and external disk drive. The two smaller ports below it are for serial devices, such as a serial mouse, keyboard or joystick. Serial mice and keyboards are no longer sold new.
A particular PS/2 port has to be used for a keyboard or a mouse, never for both. When connecting the keyboard and mouse make sure that you connect them to the correct ports. Most computers (that still provide them) have color coded PS/2 ports. If the computer has coloured ports the mouse usually connects to the green or teal connection, and the keyboard to the blue or purple connection. The inside female plug of the port is coloured green/teal and blue/purple.
Optical mice use a source of light to monitor movement of the mouse instead of a ball inside the mouse. You can buy wired or wireless optical mice. Both kinds are operated from buttons and usually have a scroll wheel on the top of the mouse. In addition to the left and right buttons and the central scroll wheel, standard ball-driven mice and optical mice can have additional buttons that provide extra features, some of which can be programmable.
If you purchase an optical mouse that has no fancy buttons - only the left and right buttons and a scroll wheel, but it doesn't come with a driver disk, if you install the mouse, all the versions of Windows from Windows 95 up will use the standard Windows PS/2 Compatible Mouse device driver. The driver will make both left and right buttons and the scroll wheel operate. With a webpage or document open, all you have to do to scroll down the page is roll the scroll wheel one way or the other to go up and down the page. If you click the scroll wheel and then move the mouse up and down, the page should scroll as quickly or as slowly as you want it to.
The functions of the additional buttons on fancy mice will be explained in the instruction manual that comes with the mouse. You can probably also find additional information on the manufacturer's site.
When the mouse driver has been installed, and the mouse is attached to the computer, it will be listed as successfully installed in the Windows Device Manager under the heading Mouse in Windows 95/98/Me systems and under Mice and other pointing devices in Windows XP/Windows Vista/Windows 7.
Only USB and FireWire mice can be hotplugged - connected to the computer while it is running. If your version of Windows supports USB, the USB driver will be loaded automatically. Visit the USB section of this website for more information. Other (non-USB/FireWire) devices should never be hotplugged, since doing so could damage or destroy the motherboard. In any case, Windows will only install the drivers for a USB/FireWire keyboard or mouse if it is plugged in while the computer is running with Windows fully loaded.
As with every other wireless device on the market, there are several different technologies from which to choose, all of which can sometimes be very troublesome to get to work. They are all certainly more problematic than a wired keyboard and mouse, so if you don't really need wireless devices it's good advice to avoid them altogether. Wired devices are always less problematic and more reliable.
All wireless devices are subject to electrical or radio interference, so the method of transmission is very important. The main transmission technologies are IR (Infra-Red), RF (Radio Frequency), and Bluetooth. IR based systems are generally older and require line-of-sight between the devices and the base station, much like a television remote control. It's good advice to stay clear of these devices if they can still be purchased.
The most common wireless technology you can purchase is an RF-based system. The general range of RF-based systems can go from 3 to 100 feet. Logitech and Microsoft claim a range of up to 6 feet for their products. Gyration is a relative newcomer to this market. Gyration uses several unique technologies in its wireless keyboards and mice. The RF frequency it uses is much higher than that used by both Logitech and Microsoft, so its products can claim ranges of up to 30 feet. Indeed, Gyration's line of professional devices claim to have a range of up to 100 feet.
Steer clear of troublesome, cheap, generic brands.
The third and newest technology, Bluetooth, has a lower chance of interference from other devices, but it requires the installation of special device drivers. Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 are the only versions of Windows that fully support it; the earlier versions don't. Moreover, users have reported various driver-related issues that caused a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse to stop working completely.
It's therefore good advice to stick to an RF-based system, since it doesn't require any special software to be recognised by the system, and the technology has been in existence for much longer than Bluetooth technology.
Note that the slight response lag with wireless mice can be a problem for gamers. The batteries in them need to be well charged for the best performance.
Question: - I had a new hard disk drive installed on my laptop PC by a computer shop that also removed some spyware. Now the cursor of my mouse moves around on its own and wreaks havoc with my typing. The same problem occurs with a wired or a wireless USB mouse. The wireless mouse is using new batteries.
Answer: - That could be a hardware problem (a faulty mouse), but you have tried two mice that have the same problem. It could be a device driver problem, especially since you have installed the software for more than one mouse, but that is unlikely. The problem is most probably being caused by a conflict with other software, such as spyware, which you have already had removed.
You should start by scanning the system for spyware. If you don't have a good virus and spyware scanner, install AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition from http://free.avg.com/ or Microsoft's free Security Essentials (but not both). Both programs scan for viruses and spyware. Update your choice online after installation and scan your system.
If doing that doesn't work, you can try disabling all of the startup programs. In Windows XP, enter msconfig in the Start => Run box. In Windows Vista, enter the command in the Start => Start Search box. In Windows 7 enter it in the Start => Search programs and files box. Doing that brings up the System Configuration Utility. Click the Startup tab followed by the Disable All button. Click on the Services tab and use your mouse to place a check mark in the box beside Hide Microsoft Services. Remove the check marks for every service except the essential services for anti-virus, firewall, etc., which you should be familiar with and should be named there. Restart your computer.
On restarting, Windows warns you that the system configuration has changed and it will offer to run MSConfig. Choose No, and place a check mark in the box that says "Do not ask again" or the message will reappear every time the computer starts up.
If doing that fixes the problem, re-enable entries a few at a time, restarting the computer after every change, until you discover which entry is the cause of the problem. You can use a search engine to find out what that entry does and if there is an update for it if it is a valid program.
Pacman's Startup list of startup programs can be very helpful in this regard. You can find it here: http://sysinfo.org/.
Question: - My desktop PC runs Windows XP. For several months after I've been using it for an hour or so, the mouse pointer lags behind when I try to move it across the screen. I have to restart the PC to make the mouse work normally again.
Answer: - When the mouse responds slowly it usually means that some process is using most of the processor's processing capability, or there is a memory management issue. In Windows 95/98/Me the system resources can be too low, thereby causing the problem. You can reduce the use of system resources by reducing the number of startup programs or programs that have been opened after startup. In Windows XP/Windows Vista, it is unlikely to be caused by low system resources, it is most probably caused by Automatic Updates, which is using most of the processor's processing time. You can make use of a program called Process Explorer to find out which process is responsible.
Process Explorer for Windows -
Read My Dell Inspiron laptop computer is incredibly slow when starting up with Svchost using 98% of processor time on this site for more information on this problem.
Question: - From time to time when I use a Microsoft wireless optical mouse on a computer running Windows XP Professional, the mouse pointer jumps to the bottom left corner of the screen, usually just as I'm about to make a click. I've tried uninstalling and reinstalling the mouse without success.
Answer: - If you download and install the latest driver file for the mouse from Microsoft's site and the problem still occurs, it's a wireless mouse, so make sure that the batteries are new or are fully charged. Optical mice tend to be very sensitive to the material they rest on, so make sure that you're using an optical mouse pad or other suitable surface. Is there a radio or another wireless device near the computer? If there is, the problem could be the result of radio interference. Pet hair, etc., can get stuck in the region near the optical sensor and the mouse interprets it as movement, so turn the the mouse over and have a look. Use a pair of tweezers to remove any debris.
Does the same behaviour occur when you use a traditional wired mouse or move the computer to another room? If none of those suggestions are helpful, check the sensitivity that is set for the mouse under Start => Control Panel => Mouse. Go to the Pointer Options tab and and experiment with the settings.
Question: - I am using Windows XP. My Microsoft Wireless Optical mouse that is attached to my laptop computer via a USB hub will not work after I have left it for a while unless I click the left button. After some experimentation I found that it works - the pointer moves - if I move the mouse within 60 seconds of the last time I used it, but at 61 seconds or more, I must click a button to make it respond. This sometimes causes trouble when the mouse is focused on top of something that I didn't want to click.
Answer: - You should have specified the model. Open the Control Panel and double-click on the Mouse icon. Click on the window's Wireless tab, which only appears if a wireless mouse is installed. Check the Battery Status. If necessary, replace the existing batteries with new ones. If that doesn't help, find out if your mouse has the option of different channels that enable you to tune to a different frequency in the event of interference from other wireless devices. Retune the mouse's frequency. Read the user manual, or check Microsoft's site to find out how to do that if you can't work it out by looking at the mouse and receiver.
The kind of keyboard and mouse used in gaming can make a difference. For instance, the slight response lag with wireless mice can be a problem for gamers. Moreover, the batteries they use need to be well charged for the best performance.
For the dedicated gamer, optical mice are the best choice, because they don't require cleaning. Some gamers prefer the wireless models because they don't like the cable getting in the way of any movement. But the gamers who don't like having a wireless mouse run out of battery power in mid-game prefer a wired optical mouse. However, it's possible to get the best of both situations by using a wireless optical mouse that uses rechargeable batteries that can be charged via a cable (instead of a cradle) while being used.
Keyboards and mice specifically designed for PC gaming are available.
Have a look at gamingmouse.com to see some interesting gaming mice, some of which don't have moving parts and don't require a specific driver.
Other examples of gaming mice and keyboards are made by Saitek.
You can make use of a search engine to find mouse and keyboard manufacturers, reviews, etc. The simple search term gaming mice and keyboards will bring up plenty of links.
Mice have a resolution that is measured in dots per inch (dpi). The higher the resolution is, the more sensitive the mouse is and the less it has to be moved in order to cover a given distance on the screen. A mouse with a relatively high resolution (e.g., 1,600dpi) allows quick and accurate responses of the kind that are required in many action and shooter games. If the response is too fast, you can use the Mouse feature in the Control Panel to adjust the settings. It can also be used to increase the response time of a mouse with a relatively low dpi specification.
If you want to access more than one computer but don't need to network them, there is a little-known device called a KVM switch that allows the operation of two or more computers from one set of keyboard - monitor - and mouse. The letters KVM stand for keyboard video and mouse, I suppose because KVM sounds better than KMM. Some of these switches can allow thousands of computers to be accessed in this way, and some of them even allow the use of one sound card and one set of speakers. The computers and the one set of keyboard, monitor and mouse are linked to the KVM switch, and key toggles are used to switch from one computer to another. All of the computers are tricked into thinking that they have sole use of the keyboard, monitor, and mouse. This is an invaluable aid if you need to use more than one computer but you don't need to have them networked.
You can purchase KVM switches from all of the larger online electronics and computer businesses. A four-computer model is typically priced from £36/$60 to £75/$125, and a two-computer unit is about half that price. Note that the more expensive units usually have superior cables and shielding from electronic interference than the less expensive units.
KVM Switches that do DVI from Aten -
Clutter Rescue: 2 Port KVM Switches -
belkin.co.uk make a good line of KVM Switches that make use of the PS/2 or USB computer ports.