I’ve been using a mouse on my Mac for, well, nearly 20 years. I jumped to the right-click mouse back in the Mac OS classic days. I may not be a power user, but I can hold my own when it comes to all things Mac.
This week I bought a new mousepad. Despite the attractive color, the sleek and smooth surface, and the sticky cushion on the back of the pad to keep it in place, I seem to have forgotten how to use my Mac’s mouse.
This adventure into perceived senility began a week ago with the download of LazyMouse, a Mac utility which snaps your mouse pointer to the default button whenever a dialog box pops up on your Mac’s screen.
Yes, I know. Windows has the exact same thing already built in. Mac OS X should have it, too, but pride gets in the way at Apple sometimes, so we have to depend on savvy Mac software developers to come up with utilities that fill in Apple’s gaps.
LazyMouse is utterly simple preference pane utility, albeit a bit overpriced, and yet a delight to use if you’re always looking for a way to speed up your Mac’s more mundane chores—like moving the mouse across the screen.
Whenever one of those pop up dialog boxes hits the screen with a couple of choices, and 90-percent of the time you click the default choice, then you’ll like LazyMouse because it moves the mouse pointer right over the default button.
Sure, it may save you a foot of mouse scrolling every time that happens since you don’t have to move your mouse across the screen; LazyMouse does it for you.
Multiply that foot times 20 times a day, and you’ve got 20 feet, or 100 feet for five days a week. That’s about a mile and a half of arm-saving mouse motions you don’t have to make each year.
Cool? Yes. Handy? Yes. Indispensable? Maybe. But LazyMouse, as it turns out, was only the tip of my mouse adventure.
Sufficiently intoxicated with my newfound efficiency, I bought a new mousepad. After that, everything went downhill. There wasn’t anything wrong with my old mousepad.
It was one of those clear, round pads called the WowPad. With the exception of one issue, it was the best pad I’ve ever used on my Mac.
The surface was smooth, translucent, and worked perfectly with my Mac’s Mighty Mouse. I could wash it all over and it would stick back into place just like new. Until recently.
The stick on the back wouldn’t stick anymore no matter what I did. Time for a new mousepad, right? I bought one at Target for $5; a rounded corner rectangle with colored crayons on a white slick surface. It was no WowPad, but it looked sweet.
That sweet taste didn’t last too long. Within minutes after plunking down the new, ruberry-back, slick surfaced, multi-colored mousepad, my mousing became erratic. The mouse pointer would jump all over the place.
I’d click but my mouse pointer would be in the corner somewhere, hiding from my prying eyes. This behavior continued despite re-calibrating my mouse’s sensitivity and slowing down and trying to be more deliberate.
Still the jumping jack mouse pointer continued unabated. What was the problem? Me.
Down through the years I’d developed a rather bad habit of mousing that was covered up by my previous, mostly-clear, mouse pads. As I would mouse around the screen, sometimes I would lift the mouse off the pad.
On a clear or mostly white pad, there was no problem. The mouse pointer settled where I wanted when I finally dropped the mouse back to the pad. But on the new and colorful pads, the surface colors would distort the Might Mouse’s little red light, and the mouse pointer would scurry off into a corner somewhere.
It was my fault. I was a lazy mouser. Instead of leaving the mouse flat against the pad, I’d lift it a bit and move backwards or forwards as needed, but the pointer always dropped to the same place.
With the new mouse pad my lifting of the mouse was distorting the pointer positioning, resulting in a spastic mouse. Trust me. You don’t want a spastic mouse.
I’m back to my round WowPad and happy about it. Lesson learned? All that glitters is not the mousepad of your dreams. Tried and true is just that, and for a reason.