AMITIAE - Monday 4 November 2013

System Preferences in OS X 10.9, Mavericks: Mouse

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers

System Preferences in OS X has had a number of changes with the update to version 10.9, Mavericks. The Mouse preferences panel which changes depending on the type of mouse that is attached, appears to have remained the same as before including the gestures for the Magic Mouse.

Mouse preferences evolved in the last few releases of OS X from the earlier Keyboard & Mouse preferences. The preferences panel will change depending on the type of mouse connected. On the MacBook Pro which has an in-built trackpad, the Mouse panel opens with a generic image of a mouse displayed. A similar panel is seen when a new desktop Mac is started for the first time and it searches for a mouse (see below - Magic Mouse).

As before, a caption indicates that the system is searching for a Bluetooth mouse, or asks for a USB mouse to be attached. Added text advice in the panel suggests that if the Bluetooth mouse does not appear, a user should check that it has batteries and is turned on.

When the panel is open with no mouse connected, a gear-wheel spins near the bottom. Alongside is the word, "Searching. . . ."

When any mouse is connected to the computer, the panel changes. The new image and information display will depend on the type of mouse connected.


Single Button Mouse

The original Apple mouse had a single button. Although these are less common now, some survive and the Mouse Preferences panel has a panel for this type. I still have one from the eMac I owned (2004). When attached to the Mac, the mouse panel changes almost immediately (3 seconds). There is no mouse image. Two controls are available: sliders for Tracking Speed and Double-Click Speed. Below is a button for setting up a Bluetooth Mouse. This appears in every Mouse Preferences panel.


Two-Button Generic Mouse

When I attached a Logitech, 2-button Optical Mouse (with a scroll-wheel) to the Mac, the panel changed from the "no mouse" display to the settings for a two-button mouse. I have tried this in the past with other types of mouse that my students were using and all worked without problem.

In Mountain Lion I had tested with a similar Microsoft mouse and saw at the top then a checkbox to change scrolling direction. That checkbox did not appear when using the mouse in Mavericks.


There are two sliders to the left of the panel for Tracking Speed and Scrolling Speed (Slow - Fast), while on the right of the panel is a single slider for Double-click speed.

Below the Double-click speed slider are two radio buttons for selection of the primary mouse button. Some prefer this to be the Left click, while others prefer the Right click. In any case additional features are available (as with the single-button mouse) by pressing the Control key just before the mouse click.

The ability to zoom using the scroll wheel (and a specified key - e.g. Control) as an option is no longer available using this panel. As with a similar trackpad control, this is turned on in Accessibility preferences (Seeing - Zoom).


Mighty Mouse

The Apple, "Mighty Mouse" (USB) was an attempt to provide more functions to a mouse. There are several tunable options giving a similar output to a 4-button mouse. Instead of a scroll-wheel it has a small scroll ball which was its Achilles Heel. A few may still be available.

Mouse The Mouse preferences panel for this device is in two main sections. The top displays the three sliders: Tracking, Double-Click and Scrolling. Just above these is a checkbox with the wording, "Scroll direction: natural."

The main area of the panel shows a diagram of the mouse and the tunable functions for each type of input. When first opened, all buttons show, "Primary Button".

The normal mouse clicks for primary and secondary buttons may be allocated to left or right sides (angling the device activates the click). However, as well as these normal functions, these clicks can also be used for Mission Control, Exposé (App Windows, Desktop), Dashboard, Application Switcher, Spotlight, and Other. When "Other" is selected, a Finder window opens a Scripts folder thus making this highly tunable.

The scrolling button -- the ball -- can be used for scrolling in several ways and a checkbox beneath the mouse diagram (near the bottom of the panel) allows selection from Vertical & Horizontal, 360°, Vertical Only, and Off. This scrolling ball may also be used as a button: options are the same as for the right/left buttons with the addition of Button 3 and Off.


There are buttons both sides of the waist section of the mouse. When pressed - the action is like squeezing - this behaves like one button. This does not have Primary or Secondary button options, but the other selections (such as Mission Control and Exposé) are available plus Other, Button 4 and Off.

Magic Mouse

Although it may not suit all users, the Apple Magic Mouse combines the functions of a trackpad with the mouse and is supplied with new iMac computers. It connects to the computer via Bluetooth. Once the panel has recognised that there is an Apple Magic Mouse in the vicinity, a user must press, Continue. An icon on the computer screen shows when a connection is made (or lost).


A panel appears with a display that shows mouse functions and options for gestures. The pane is in two parts: Point & Click; and More gestures.

Point and Click has three checkboxes to the left of the panel for options:

  • Scroll direction: natural. Like the Trackpad preferences allows the use of the scroll gesture to be natural: the content follows finger movement (ignore the scroll bar, follow the page);

  • Secondary Click allows the selection of either the left or right side to be used for this;

  • Smart Zoom allows a panel in some applications to zoom in and out. Only some applications (e.g. Safari) will allow this. This is also available in in Trackpad preferences where 2 fingers is used.


More Gestures has three checkbox options:

  • Swipe between pages allows the user to scroll left or right with one finger. A menu is available with two more options -
    • Swipe left or right with two fingers
    • Swipe with one or two fingers

  • Swipe between full-screen apps is a gesture that uses 2 fingers. When a two-finger option is selected in the option above (Swipe between two pages) this becomes inactive. If this is reselected, the first option reverts to a one-finger action. There are no options, unlike the Trackpad which uses either 3 or 4 fingers for this action.

  • Mission Control is activated with a double-tap using two fingers.


At the bottom of both panes there is a display to indicate the power remaining in the batteries of the mouse. If this is low the figure displayed changes to red. A user will need to change the AA batteries.

A button at bottom left, like on other panels, is available to set up a Bluetooth mouse. This brings up a small panel in which any nearby units are identified and may be selected.

I had earlier found that if another mouse is connected by USB while the Magic Mouse is being used, the display does not change: the videos are still shown. The Mighty Mouse needs to be turned off, so that it will disconnect. A screen icon -- Connection Lost -- appears and the panel reverts to normal displays. Turning the Mighty Mouse back on displays the "Found . . ." text on the panel and pressing the Continue button completes the process.


OS X System Preferences is able to handle input with most mouses (and I have checked the dictionary - the device plural is mouses). I have used a number of generic mouses with Macs as well as the Microsoft mouse (above). None needed additional drivers for my purposes.

I would suggest that if users wish to use such a 3rd party mouse they try connecting it first before installing any additional driver software which itself may cause conflicts initially (or later when the operating system is updated).

See Also:

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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