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Choosing between the Mac Basic Mouse and Mighty Mouse

One of the great divides between Apple and Microsoft was over whether computer mice should have one or two buttons. Apple touted the simplicity of having a single button, but eventually introduced its own multi-button mouse, which it named Mighty Mouse.

Mighty Mouse comes with the iMac and Mac Pro. You can order a wireless Bluetooth version as an option. At first glance, this mouse looks like a single-button mouse with a tiny ball toward the front. The ball acts like a scroll wheel, but it can command horizontal as well as vertical scrolling. The top of the Mighty Mouse is a single shell. To perform a right-click, you press only on the right half of the shell. Regular (left-) clicks, the most common action, can be on the left or both sides simultaneously. The scroll ball can also be pressed down to signal a third type of click, and each side of the Mighty Mouse has a button that you squeeze to represent a fourth click. So Apple has gone from one button to four, but in a way that still looks like one.

If your Mac came with a Mighty Mouse, give it a try. But if your Mac didn’t or if you find the Mighty Mouse too confusing, stick with a standard, two-button, USB, scroll-wheel mouse. If you already have one you like, use it. If not, go buy one. Wired (as opposed to wireless) optical mice are inexpensive, and almost any will do fine. Just plug it in to a free USB port or your USB hub. You don’t even have to turn off the computer. Apple keyboards have extra built-in USB ports (one on the left and one on the right) for the mouse. No setup is necessary. Apple software uses the left button for primary clicks, the scroll wheel to scroll up and down, and the right button to bring up context-sensitive menus, just as Windows does. If you’re a left-handed user, you probably will want to switch the buttons by using the Keyboard & Mouse pane in System Preferences.

Apple’s laptops, the MacBook and MacBook Pro, also feature a single button located below the trackpad. PC laptops generally have two buttons. You can signal a right-click on a Mac laptop by holding down the Control key and clicking the one trackpad button. Apple’s trackpad is also clever enough to notice when you have two fingers resting on it instead of just one. Moving two fingers up and down on the trackpad makes it work like a scroll wheel. You can also tell your laptop to interpret a click as a right-click when you have two fingers resting on the trackpad. To do so, choose System Preferences from the Apple menu (in the upper-left of your screen) and then choose Keyboard & Mouse. Select the Place Two Fingers on Trackpad and Click Button for Secondary Click check box and then close the window. Of course, you can use your two-button USB mouse with your laptop, too. Just plug it in.

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