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A computer mouse is a handheld hardware input device that controls a cursor in a GUI (graphical user interface) and can move and select text, icons, files, and folders on your computer.
For desktop computers, the mouse is placed on a flat surface (e.g., mouse pad or desk) in front of your computer. The picture is an example of a Logitech desktop computer mouse with two primary buttons and a wheel.
Who invented the mouse?
The mouse was initially known as the X-Y Position Indicator for a Display System and was invented by Douglas Engelbart in 1963 while working at Xerox PARC. But, due to Alto's lack of success, the first widely used application of the mouse was with the Apple Lisa computer. Today, this pointing device is on virtually every computer.
What are the uses of a mouse?
Below is a list of computer mouse functions to give you an idea of all the things a mouse is capable of doing.
- Move the mouse cursor - The primary function is to move the mouse pointer on the screen.
- Open or execute a program - Once you've moved the pointer to an icon, folder, or another object clicking or double-clicking that object opens the document or executes the program.
- Select - A mouse also allows you to select text or a file or highlight and select multiple files at once.
- Drag-and-drop - Once something is selected, it can also be moved using the drag-and-drop method.
- Hover - Moving the mouse cursor over objects with hover information helps discover each object's function. For example, hover the mouse over the 'hover' link to see an example.
- Scroll - When working with a long document or viewing a long web page, you may need to scroll up or down. To scroll, use the mouse wheel, or click-and-drag the scroll bar.
- Perform other functions - Many desktop mice also have buttons that can be programmed to perform any function. For example, many mice have two side buttons on the thumb portion of the mouse. The button closest to the palm can be programmed to go back to the previously viewed web page in a browser.
For help with using a mouse and performing all the above functions, see: How to use a computer mouse.
How has the mouse increased computer usability?
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By using a computer mouse, you don't have to memorize commands, such as those utilized in a text-based command line environment like MS-DOS. For example, in MS-DOS, you would need to know the cd command and dir command and type the commands on the keyboard to open a directory (folder) and view its files. Whereas a Windows user only has to double-click to open a folder and see its contents.
Types of computer mice
Below is a listing of all the types of computer mice and pointing devices used with a computer. Today, for a desktop computer, the most common type of mouse is an optical mouse that connects to the USB port and known as a USB mouse. For laptop computers, the most common type of mouse is the touchpad.
Computer mouse ports
Today, most computer mice connect to a computer using a USB port. Below is a list of ports and wireless connections a mouse is capable of using.
What are the parts of a computer mouse?
The parts of a computer mouse can vary by the type of computer mouse. Below is a general overview of the parts found on most computer mice.
Today, almost all computer mice have at least two buttons, a left button and right button for clicking and manipulating objects and text. In the past, there were mice with only one button. For example, many of the early Apple computer mice only had one button.
Ball, laser, or LED
A desktop mouse uses a ball and rollers if it's a mechanical mouse or a laser or LED if it's an optical mouse. These components track the movement of the mouse on an x-axis and y-axis and move the mouse cursor on the screen. In the picture is an example of the bottom of a mechanical and optical mouse.
Today's desktop computer mice also usually include a mouse wheel that allows you to scroll up and down on a page.Tip
Instead of rolling the wheel, if you push in on the wheel, it can be used as a third button.
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To transmit (input) all mouse signal information, clicks, and other information, the mouse must also have a circuit board with integrated circuits.
Cable or wireless receiver
For a corded mouse, it also includes a cable with a plug that connects to the computer. Today, most corded mice connect to the USB port. If your computer has a wireless mouse, it needs a USB wireless receiver to receive the wireless signal and input it into the computer.
If you're using a laptop, some of the above components mentioned earlier are not required. For example, a touchpad does not use a ball, laser, or LED to control movement; it uses your finger on the touchpad. Other parts include a ball for trackball mice, extra buttons on the thumb side of the mouse, and nubs used with laptop mice.
What does a laptop use for a mouse?
Because a laptop is designed for portability, almost all laptops today use a touchpad as the mouse, and some Lenovo laptops still use a TrackPoint. Also, all laptop computers can have a USB corded or wireless mouse attached to them. In the picture is an example of a touchpad found below a laptop keyboard.
Do smartphones use a mouse?
Smartphones and tablets use a touch screen as their primary input device, and therefore your finger is the mouse on these devices. With most tablets, you also have the option to connect a computer mouse and use it on the tablet.
What hand should I use to control the mouse?
By default, a computer mouse is set up to be used with your right hand. However, if you're left-handed, it can be set up to be used with your left hand.Note
Although a mouse can be set up for your left hand, some mice are molded for right-hand users and may feel uncomfortable with your left hand.
How can I use or practice using the mouse?
The following page explains the mouse basics, how it's held, how to connect it, and how it's used on the computer. Included on the page are interactive examples that help with practicing with the different mouse features.
How do I change my mouse's batteries?
To change the batteries in your mouse, you slide back the cover on the bottom, switch out the old batteries, and then replace the cover.
Mouse vs. mice or mouses
When talking about one (singular), refer to a computer mouse as a 'mouse.' When talking about two or more (plural), refer to them as 'mice' (preferred), or 'mouses.'Tip
To help prevent confusion, some companies and writers avoid using either plural form of a mouse by referring to multiple mice as 'mouse devices.'
Is 'mouse' an acronym?
No. Some believe that mouse is short for 'manually-operated user-select equipment.' However, when Douglas Engelbart helped invent the mouse, he called it a mouse because the device resembled the rodent.
Click, Double-click, Hardware terms, Input device, IntelliMouse, J-Mouse, Microsoft, Mouse pad, Mouse potato, Mouse terms, Pointing device, Right-click, Serial mouse, Touchpad, Trackball, Wheel mouse
There may be several issues that cause the mouse not to work properly with Microsoft Windows. This page contains solutions that may help.Tip
You can use your keyboard to navigate in Windows or connect a different mouse that does work to access areas of Windows mentioned on this page. For help navigating using a keyboard, see: How to navigate Windows using a keyboard.Note
If you're having trouble with a touchpad mouse on a laptop, see: Why is my laptop mouse touchpad not working?
When a computer freezes, the first sign is usually that the mouse has stopped responding. If your mouse pointer has suddenly stopped responding, follow these steps to determine if your computer is completely frozen.
Using the Num Lock key
Make sure the computer is not frozen by pressing the Num Lock key on the keyboard. When Num Lock is pressed repeatedly, the Num Lock indicator LED on your keyboard should turn on and off. If this indicator does not change, your computer is frozen; meaning all hardware on the computer (including the mouse) will not work. Reboot the computer to resolve this issue. If you don't have an indicator light, proceed to the next part of this section.
Keyboard doesn't have Num Lock indicator light
If your keyboard does not include the LED described in the previous section, anywhere in Windows, press the Ctrl+Alt+Del keys at the same time. This action should bring up a blue Windows options screen. You may leave this menu by pressing the Esc. If you are not taken to the blue screen within a few seconds, your computer is frozen. Reboot your machine to resolve this issue.
If any new hardware was recently installed on the computer, remove it to help verify the new hardware is not causing a conflict with your existing mouse.
Mouse is not connected correctly
Follow these steps to verify the mouse is connected correctly to the computer.
If you are using a USB mouse, disconnect the mouse cable and reconnect to a different USB port. If the mouse connects to a USB hub, try connecting the mouse to a USB port on the back of the computer.
- Make sure the wireless mouse is receiving power by checking for some indication of power (usually a light). If your mouse has a power switch, it's often on the bottom side.
- If the mouse doesn't appear to be on, replace the batteries.
- Make sure the wireless receiver is within range and is not blocked by too many objects.
- Disconnect the wireless USB adapter and try plugging it into a different port.
With a PS/2 mouse, check the back of the computer to verify that it's plugged into the PS/2 mouse port and not the PS/2 keyboard. If the mouse has worked properly in the past (i.e., not a new mouse), shut down the computer and disconnect and reconnect the mouse.Note
A PS/2 mouse should not be disconnected and reconnected while a computer is turned on.Tip
If the computer's keyboard works, shut down Windows properly by pressing the Windows key, and then using the arrow keys and Tab to select shut down.
Software or driver conflict
Boot into Windows Safe Mode. If the mouse is working in Safe Mode, there is likely a driver or software conflict. To fix this problem, follow the steps below.
- Expand the mouse (mice) option in Device Manager by clicking the + symbol.
- Remove all mice listed by highlighting each device and then pressing the Del on the keyboard.
Mouse driver outdated or missing
Check if a driver is installed for the mouse. You can check in the Device Manager for this. While Windows may have a standard or default driver for the mouse, installing a driver for your specific mouse may fix the issue. Check our mouse manufacturers list for links to many mouse manufacturer websites to download a driver for the mouse.
If a driver is installed for the mouse, we recommend you check for an update released since the installation of the driver. Updating the driver may fix issues with a non-functioning mouse.
Outdated USB driver
Motherboard and computer manufacturers update hardware drivers periodically, including USB port drivers. USB mouse detection and functionality issues may be a result of outdated USB port drivers.
Updated USB port drivers can fix mouse detection and functionality issues. Check our computer manufacturers list and motherboard companies list for links to manufacturer websites. You can visit the website of your mouse manufacturer to check for updated USB port drivers. If updated drivers are available, download and install the new drivers. Restart your computer and test the mouse to see if the updated drivers fix the issue.
Other USB driver issues
If your USB mouse does not work on the computer, the USB port drivers may be corrupt. Two options for trying to fix corrupt drivers are to restore Windows to a previous point when the USB mouse did work, or uninstall and reinstall the USB port drivers.
Activate Windows restore point
If your USB mouse worked previously, activate a Windows restore point to a date when the mouse worked on your computer.
Uninstall and reinstall USB port drivers
USB port drivers can get corrupted, causing a USB mouse not to work. Follow the steps below to uninstall and reinstall the USB port drivers.Note
You need to navigate Windows using your keyboard, for help navigating using the keyboard, see: How to navigate Windows using a keyboard.
- Using the Tab and arrow keys, highlight the Universal Serial Bus controllers entry in the Device Manager.
- Press the right arrow key to expand the devices under Universal Serial Bus controllers.
- Use the arrow keys to highlight a USB Composite Device or USB Root Hub entry and press Enter to open the properties window.
- In the properties window, using the Tab and arrow keys, access the Driver tab.
- On the Driver tab, use the Tab key to select the Uninstall Device button, then press Enter.
- On the Uninstall Device window, use the Tab key to highlight the Uninstall button and press Enter.
- For each USB Composite Device or USB Root Hub entry in the Device Manager, repeat steps 4 through 7 above.
- After uninstalling each USB port devices, restart Windows and your computer.
- When Windows loads, it should detect the USB port devices in your computer and reinstall them, including the drivers.
Operating system files corrupted
If the above solutions do not resolve the issue, there is a possibility of corrupt system files in the operating system. You may need to run an operating system repair using the system installation disc.
If you have a Windows restore point saved from when the mouse was working, restore your system to that state.
Other hardware issues
These hardware issues may also apply to you.
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If the previous solutions did not solve the problem, try another mouse. If that mouse works, try the mouse that is not working with another computer. If multiple mice do not work, the problem is with the mouse port. If you're using the PS/2 or USB port on the back of the computer, the motherboard may be bad and needs to be replaced.
If the mouse doesn't work with any computer or the mouse wire is partially cut or frayed, the mouse needs to be replaced. It's cheaper to buy a new mouse than to try fixing a bad mouse.
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- See our mouse definition for further information and related links.