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The Multi-Button Mouse

One of the criticisms about the Macintosh is its stubborn insistence on a one-button mouse. Well, the truth is, the Mac OS actually natively supports multi-button devices extensively. There’s nothing wrong with the Apple Pro Mouse that comes with every Mac, in fact I like the feel of it very much, but for a more efficient user experience I recommend buying a mouse with a few more things to click.


Almost any USB mouse will work with a Mac out of the box, with no driver installation necessary. I bought a Logitech MX 500 mouse, and out of the box I was able to use left/right click, the scroll wheel, and the scroll buttons. Installation of the included Logitech Control Center preference pane added browser front/back capabilities and the option to configure the buttons for other uses. Here is my current configuration, so you can start out with this if you’re looking for suggestions:


In the Logitech Control Center, set these options:

• Wheel: Scroll (configure the increment to your personal preference, mine is currently set to Large)

• Left Button: Click

• Right Button: Click (Right Click)

• Wheel Button: Advanced Click (Click Type is Click, and Button number is 3. I have this set because I use Maya, which requires 3 buttons.)

• Thumb Back Button: Keystroke (Left Arrow with open-apple modifier)

• Thumb Forward Button: Keystroke (Right arrow with open-apple modifier)

• Quick Switch Button: Advanced Click (Click, Button 6)

• Cruise Up Button: Advanced Click (Click, Button 4)

• Cruise Down Button: Advanced Click (Click, Button 5)


I know that sounds like a lot of work, but don’t worry, it should be worth it. Oh, and you’re not done quite yet. In System Preferences, click on Exposé. At the bottom of the window, you will see options for mouse buttons. Set All windows to Button 4, Application windows 5, and Desktop to 6. Now you’re all set and ready to start saving your fingers some trips to the keyboard.


You now have right-click (equivalent to control-click on a single button mouse) capabilities, giving you an instant context-sensitive pop-up menu on almost any part of the screen. The scroll wheel will help you with text documents and web pages, (also try open-apple–tab and scrolling through open apps), the front and back buttons will become a big time-saver in Safari (they also work as track skip buttons in iTunes!),  the scroll wheel button is button 3 for multi-button apps,  and the remaining three are the most fun, as they make Exposé an even more convenient feature of the Mac OS.


Update: You can now buy Apple's multi-button mouse from Amazon: Apple Mighty Mouse
or Apple: Apple Mighty Mouse


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