A Mighty Mistake

November 30th, 2005

I recently had the opportunity to give Apple’s Mighty Mouse a good test-drive. I was really excited when this mouse was announced. What a perfect compromise: a two-button mouse that can masquerade as a single-clicker for the frightened masses! My excitement turned to slight concern as the informal reviews started appearing on the web.

People were discovering a cheezy implementation detail that required the user to completely remove their finger from the left side of the mouse before attempting to click the right side. It was hard to gauge how problematic this issue actually was. The reviewers were either completely appalled by the problem or absurdly nonplussed: “It’s no big deal, you just lift your left finger every time you click.” No big deal!?

Earlier this month I was working in New York for a week on-site with a client. They had bought an awesome new PowerMac G5 for this work, and I was delighted (but a little scared) to see that it came with a Mighty Mouse. To Apple’s credit, the computer ships with the mouse in “one button” mode. This is how they should continue shipping computers. In fact, they should remove the software that allows two-button mode to be enabled. This “feature” of the mouse is a total piece of poop. With the Mighty Mouse, essentially every click becomes a Russian roulette gamble. Did I click on the right side or the left side? Well, I know what side I clicked, but what side has the mouse decided I clicked?

I battled with the mouse for a few hours, trying to master the art of right clicking. Not only did the mouse fail to register my right clicks half of the time, the monstrosity managed to on occasion turn my left clicks into right clicks! I could swear it even swallowed clicks sometimes!

Just how bad is the Mighty Mouse? I have been using a two-button mouse on the Mac for about 5 years. I am completely accustomed to right-clicking everything in sight. I depend on the right mouse button, and I disabled it for my week with the Mighty Mouse. I became a control-clicker for the week!

It depresses me that this is the new “Standard Mouse” for Macs. It could have been so good. In my opinion it would be false advertising to call this a two-button mouse. I guess that’s why they just say it has “multibutton charm.”

For those of you who are concerned that the right clicking with the Mighty Mouse might be a problem, but are considering a purchase anyway: save yourself! I’m back at home with my utterly unstylish Wacom mouse, and loving every damned predictable right click I make.

9 Responses to “A Mighty Mistake”

  1. Buzz Andersen Says:

    I agree–I think the Mighty Mouse is one of the most disappointing products to come out of Apple in a long time.

  2. Mark Grimes Says:

    Although the problem is objective, I think the concern is subjective to how you hold a mouse. Some people actually have their index finger slightly raised when right clicking. Now that I’ve been on the MM since release, it is muscle memory — and using it properly since release nearly full time, I can’t say I have experienced swallowed clicks. However, there are enough people voicing your concerns to where it should resemble a QA issue in future models… maybe the BT one won’t have this issue? *shrug*

    My advice to potential MM buyers is to go to the Apple Store and try it out FIRST — if it works for you great, it’s one less thing you’ll have to buy when purchasing new desktops. I would not buy it mail order without trying it unless you have an easy time adjusting to technology (and its flaws) rather then finding technology that fits your existing capacity — I figured if I could replace my tibook keyboard with a zero-force, split key, gesture keyboard replacement, I could adjust to anything, so I outright bought it the day it was released without ever holding one.

    Now where is the bluetooth version so I can divorce myself of cord on the albook..

  3. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Mark: it’s great hear that you’ve been conditioned to getting along with it. I think you’re right that some people probably just happen to be compatible with it, on the basis of their mousing musculature. That being said: no company should introduce a mouse that requires a training period merely to accomplish standard mousing gestures. If Apple was introducing an entirely new category of input device, I would grant them a learning curve.

    This is really mostly a disappointment to me because it hurts my pride as a former Apple employee and as a continuing proponent of the Mac, to think that Apple’s name is attached to such a shoddy design. Apple’s brand is all about ease of use, reliability and high workmanship. I think the last time I felt this way was during the early 2000′s when, for a long period of time all the Apple keyboards I tried were exhibiting a problem in which typing at very high speed would cause keys to get transposed. It probably only affected 1% of customers, but it was still a huge defect in my eyes.

    What hurts most of all is that the mouse has been out for quite a while now, and is still broken. I certainly hope your speculation that it could get fixed in the BT version is true. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed!

  4. Mark Grimes Says:

    Would it be safe to say that Apple needs some new QA guys? :)

  5. Red Sweater Blog - MacBook Pro: The Whining User Says:

    [...] Track, Damn Trackpad! This is one I hadn’t noticed until I started trying to do more long working sessions at the MacBook Pro. Frequently I find myself unable to move the mouse for a few seconds as the trackpad apparently becomes unresponsive to my movement. I don’t know if this is a wacky side-effect of the way I use the pad, or what. I’ve never had this problem on another Mac laptop, but perhaps it’s somehow related to the “two finger scrolling” feature, which I quite like. Fixability Factor: given my extremely negative experience with the Mighty Mouse, I suspect it’s possible that Apple is simply studying users who don’t expect pointing devices to behave the way I do. If that’s the case, perhaps I just have to learn to live with it. [...]

  6. engrish Says:

    Apple were so behind the times with their previous mouse (one button, no scroll wheel), I suppose they had to do something special with the Mighty Mouse. Yet another multibutton mouse wouldn’t be enough (for the $49.00 asking price), they had to “innovate” to differentiate their product. Secondly, they had to manage conflicting goals, the Mighty Mouse can be used as a one button or a multibutton mouse. And they had to retain the same sleek look (invisible buttons). Some possible reasons behind the shoddy “touch-sensitive technology”…

  7. AK Says:

    i agree my 10 dollar macally mouse is way better and the m is not even on straight! very nice keyboard though

  8. Robert Says:

    I noticed after using the Mighty Mouse my writsts and then my elbows started hurting. The way the mouse is built just isn’t much support for your wrists. I had to stop using the Mighty Mouse because it just hurt my wrists too much.

  9. Garrett Kelly Says:

    Hmm … the only real problem I’ve had with the mighty mouse is the scrolly ball getting cluttered with crap and there being no way to clean it. I’ve tried the “jamming in a corner of a stiff piece of paper” method, the “running a piece of scotch tape around the ball” method, even the “pressing down really hard on the ball for 15 minutes and curse God” approach.

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