Saturday, September 17, 2005

Mighty Mouse Indeed

I finally got my hands on the new Mighty Mouse from Apple. And I love it.

A lot of people are rather surprised that Apple would cave in and release a two-button mouse. Apple has never made a two button mouse before, and it's generally been understood that Apple (i.e. Steve Jobs) believes two-button mice are a bad UI/design concept.

But the Mighty Mouse is not a two-button mouse. It's a one-button mouse that is sensitive to whether you click it on one side or the other. I think it's an important distinction. Because of its design, the Mighty Mouse allows your hand to grip it and click it more comfortably and more flexibly.

I've owned and used quite a few conventional two-button mice over the years, from Microsoft and Logitech and other top makers. My personal take is that they all contribute to RSI. You end up having to use your index finger for left clicking and your middle or ring finger for right clicking. That's a lot of clicking, especially for the index finger, and it puts a lot of focused stress on the muscles those fingers are attached to. A year and a half ago I began to experience a fair bit of discomfort in my right hand and wrist. After trying several other remedies, I switched back from a two-button mouse to Apple's one-button Pro mouse a year ago, and within a month or so the discomfort in my right hand had more or less completely gone away. I do not expect that discomfort to come back now that I'm switching to the Mighty Mouse. I can easily click the right side of the mouse with several fingers spread comfortably over the entire right side of the mouse. And I can left click with three or four fingers, even with my entire hand, if I like. I am convinced the Mighty Mouse is the best designed and most ergonomic mouse in its weight class.

So I disagree with Walter Mossberg. I think the Mighty Mouse is a novel design, and a good one. My Mighty Mouse is not finicky at all. I don't have any problems getting it to right click. It is true (as noted in the Ars Technica review) that you have to keep your index finger off the left-size of the mouse while you right-click. But I figured this out pretty quickly. My guess is that whether you like it or not will depend on what mouse you were using before, and what you expect from a "two-button" mouse. If you expect this to work like a conventional two-button mouse, well, you will be disappointed. But if you come to the Mighty Mouse from the Apple Pro or Apple Bluetooth mouse, I bet you'll like the new mouse even better.

By the way, I absolutely love the little scroll nubbin (or "trackpea" as David Pogue calls it). I find it easier to use than a more conventional scroll wheel, and left-right (horizontal) scrolling is as easy as up-down (vertical) scrolling. I should perhaps also mention that, while you can use the mouse instantly simply by plugging it in, it seems that the drivers for the Mighty Mouse are not yet included in OS X.4 automatically, so to take full advantage of the M.M. you have to install the software on the included CD. But once you do, you can program the scroll nubbin and also the side (squeeze) buttons however you like. I've got the nubbin invoking Expose's reveal desktop function, and the side buttons showing me all open windows. Fab.

(Originally published on Typepad 8/17/2005)

About Me

I am an event photographer living in Dallas, Texas.