Left, Right, Left, Right, Left

Using the mouse for the first time, I quickly became frustrated with how rarely my right clicks were registering.  Apple said just to click the right side of it and it'd work, but it didn't, or so I thought.  I kept on repositioning my middle finger further and further right of the scroll ball until I would get the right click to register, which usually ended up being on the very far right of the mouse.  Something had to be wrong - no company would release such a blunder of a mouse. And of course, something was wrong - my pesky index finger.

As I mentioned earlier, when I first started my Mac experiment over a year ago, I refused to use the Apple mouse.  As such, I've developed a small collection of the mice that do nothing but sit in their original wrapping.  I needed my second mouse button and I wasn't going to be able to give the platform its fair chance with that mouse. I tried to be as open-minded about the platform as possible, but I would not budge on the mouse issue.  Since I rarely used Apple's mouse, I had no reason to grow accustomed to what is, in my opinion, the biggest difference between it and normal mice. 

Apple's mice have no button on their surface. Instead, when you "click", you push the entire surface of the mouse down, which works as your primary click.  With a single button mouse, it's not that big of a deal, but once you get into a 2-button mouse situation, things get a bit more complicated. 

Hold mouse over image to see the mouse being clicked

On my Logitech MX1000, when I'd right click, I'd have my index finger resting on the left mouse button.  There was no reason to lift my index finger because my middle finger was doing all of the work at that point, clicking the right mouse button.  And when I needed to left click, my middle finger remained idle while the index finger did its duty.  This is the way most mice work, and most importantly, it doesn't confuse the user; right clicking feels like right clicking because your index finger is on the left mouse button and you can tell that it isn't moving when you right click. 

Doing the same on Apple's Mighty Mouse not only feels weird, but it isn't exactly possible to do without producing a very different outcome.  The Mighty Mouse is no different than Apple's regular mouse from a mechanical standpoint, so regardless of what side of the mouse on which you're pushing down, the whole surface of the mouse clicks.  So, if you happen to have both fingers on the mouse and attempt to right click, it tends to bring about a bit of confusion (you're trying to right-click, but the finger with the job of left clicking moves down as well.  It's an uncomfortable and momentarily confusing feeling, but at the same time, if you're feeling it, then you're using the mouse incorrectly.

Since there aren't two physical buttons on the mouse, left and right clicks are determined by the side of the mouse that you are touching.  So, if your index finger is slightly touching the left side of the mouse when you go to "right click", the click won't register as a right click; instead, it will default to a left click.  That fact alone was what took the most getting used to for me.  At first, I blamed the mouse, but then I quickly realized that all of the times when the right mouse clicks weren't registering, my index finger was resting peacefully on the left side of the mouse - even when I didn't think it was. 

The solution is simple, although a bit annoying for conventional 2-button mouse users: whenever you go to "right click", just lift your index finger off the surface of the mouse.  You have to completely remove your index finger from the surface of the mouse in order to guarantee a right click; otherwise, you'll get a left click.  Of course, if you already do this, then it doesn't take any adjusting. But for me, it was the steepest part of the Mighty Mouse learning curve.

Once you have that down, right clicking seems natural, mainly because your index finger isn't around to feel that it isn't exactly natural.  If you remember to keep your index finger out of the way, you can right click anywhere to the right of the mouse ball.  You can actually click below and to the right of the scroll ball and still generate a right click. 

Index Small Balls and Touchy Sensors


View All Comments

  • Hacp - Thursday, August 04, 2005 - link

    I don't think I will have any problem with this. I usually lift my index finger and put it on the scroll wheel when I rightclick anyways. It is very easy to adapt to a mouse. Once, my right click button wasn't working, and my leftclick button always doubleclicked, so I set my scroll wheel as the left click and hte left click as the right click. Took me 3 days, but I conquered it like a pro. After a bit of practice, it can feel very natural....

    After saying all of that, I'm not buying that mouse. I'd rather plunge on a mx with that pricetag....
  • Hacp - Thursday, August 04, 2005 - link

    Also another thing to point out, this article was alot more interesting than the 7800GTX series. I was dissapointed when I saw that the article for today was the VGA card, but the mighty mouse article caught me totally by surprise! Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Friday, August 05, 2005 - link

    There's even less chance of me buying one of those mice, than there is of me buying a Mac (which is roughly zero); but I must agree it was more interesting than reading another 7800GTX review.

    Lots of individual reviews of $500 cards only a tiny fraction of your visitors will be buying in the next few months is crazy, just do a roundup in a month or two where you can highlight the differences between all the samples you received. It reminds me of the ultra-high end memory reviews that were posted every week or two. For what it's worth I ended up buying high-performance memory but not any of the sticks you reviewed because you only looked at 512MB modules, and a pair of 1GB sticks is a far better investment these days.
  • MIDIman - Thursday, August 04, 2005 - link

    Why innovate something that IMHO is already efficient enough?

    I'm all about new ideas - the back and forward buttons on new mice (read: Logitech) have truly changed my effectiveness in an OS. Many will say the same about trackballs.

    But really - if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
  • kmmatney - Thursday, August 04, 2005 - link

    Sounds like you use your middle finger for right clicking, which is weird to me. I use index for the left button, middle finger for scrolling, and my ring finger for right clicking, while my thumb and pinky glide the mouse around with delicate precision. Reply
  • Griswold - Friday, August 05, 2005 - link

    Left handed people might use the middle finger on the left button and index on the right.. Reply
  • Furen - Thursday, August 04, 2005 - link

    I use my middle finger to right click as well... Must be because I used a two-button mouse (back before the times of the wheel ^^) for the longest time, and having the middle finger on the right button made sense. Reply
  • ProviaFan - Thursday, August 04, 2005 - link

    Everyone does it differently... I use my thumb for the back and forward buttons, index for left button, middle for scroll wheel/middle button, and fourth for right button. On occasion, though, my middle finger can work its way over to the right button, but that doesn't usually last long. :) Reply
  • jm20 - Thursday, August 04, 2005 - link

    Great review, I enjoy your impartialness to manufacturers Anand. I'll stick to my Intellimouse 1.1 Reply
  • gamara - Thursday, August 04, 2005 - link

    I don't care what Apple can do with a mouse. As long as they make it look cute, its going to be horrible to use. Anyone remember the wonderful mouse that came with the original i-macs? It was shapped like a hockey puck and about the same size. I wound up grabbing it sideways most often(since it felt the same in your hand). The 'no button' mice are almost as bad as I drag through most windows with those. Personnaly, they would need to add back/forward buttons too, since I have gotten used to those almost as much as my scroll wheel. Reply

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