eXtensions - Sunday 9 October 2016

System Preferences in macOS, Sierra: Mouse

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By Graham K. Rogers

System Preferences in macOS, Sierra has had some changes with its recent update. The Mouse preferences panel which has different displays depending on the type of mouse connected to the computer, has retained the same content as before.

The current Mouse preferences evolved from the earlier Keyboard & Mouse. 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 that a USB mouse 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.


Displayed in bold in the center of the panel are the words, "No mouse found." 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 two of these: from my first iMac (2002) and the eMac I owned (2004). When attached to the Mac, the mouse panel changes almost immediately (2 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 Microsoft, 2-button Optical Mouse (with 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 previous versions of this Mouse preferences information, I had used a Dell mouse. The Mouse preferences worked in the same way in all cases.

If users wish to use such a 3rd party mouse I suggest 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). I have tried several 3rd party (e.g. Logitech) and generic devices, none of which has needed a driver to be installed.


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 radio buttons for selection of the Primary mouse button. Some prefer this to be the Left click, while others prefer the Right click. As with the single-button mouse (and the trackpad), additional features are available when in use by pressing the Control key before the mouse click.

The ability to zoom using the scroll wheel (and a specified key - e.g. Control) as an option is not available using this panel. As with the trackpad, this is turned on in Accessibility preferences (Vision - Zoom).

Note: With the update to Sierra, several Logitech and Razer Synapse users complained that their devices stopped working. An update to the driver software was released 22 September. Razer released an update on 30 September.

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.

Mighty Mouse (screenshot from earlier version of this article)

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) 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). Each of the options is accompanied by a video display of how it works as in the Trackpad preferences.

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.

Magic Mouse (screenshot from earlier article)

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 one finger
    • 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 Swipe between two pages (above) 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.

Magic Mouse (screenshot from earlier article)

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.

See Also:

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. 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. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



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