Here are some of the best mouse and trackpad choices for your new Mac mini

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2018
This is surely the easiest part of buying a Mac: picking the mouse to go with it. Except there are also trackpads -- and you won't believe the number of choices you've got. AppleInsider talks about what we've used and like, and how to narrow down your options to find the right mouse or trackpad for you.

Apple's Magic mouse, trackpad and keyboard
Apple's Magic mouse, trackpad and keyboard


Apple is missing a trick here. When you order a new Mac mini from Apple's online store, the firm offers you upgrades to storage and processor plus it tries to tempt you with software like Final Cut Pro X. Yet it doesn't offer you a mouse or trackpad even though Apple sells them -- and even though it will offer these when you're buying a Mac Pro.

If it did include Apple's own devices in the list of possible Build to Order options it would be fine. If you separately choose to add them to your Shopping Basket, you won't regret it. You still have to choose between the mouse and the trackpad but both are good choices that you will be happy with.

It's just that they are not the only options. Not by a very, very long way. And there has been at least since Apple's original iMac mouse came out and drove people to look for alternatives that were less uncomfortable.

Apple's infamous original mouse for the iMac
Apple's infamous original mouse for the iMac


That old hockey puck mouse doesn't look great but you had to use it to realize just how dreadful a mouse can be. Comfort and functionality are the keys to a good experience. You might not imagine that there's a lot of functionality you can have in a mouse, but some are so feature-packed as to be ludicrous.

And yet whatever you end up choosing to buy, the steps you take and the issues you need to work through are the same. Here's what you need to think about plus recommendations in every type of Mac pointing device.

Mouse or trackpad

You could always buy both and we're not saying to dodge the decision. Plenty of people have plenty of reasons to have both a mouse and a trackpad on their Mac mini.

Broadly speaking, a trackpad is great for most uses. It's just the same as on a laptop, it's quick and easy, it's comfortable. Plus as well as moving your cursor around the screen, trackpads can have gestures. Swipe four fingers upwards to get macOS's Expose feature, for instance.

A mouse, on the other hand, is far more precise.

So a photographer, for example, might have a trackpad for moving quickly through hundreds of images but then a mouse for making precise Photoshop adjustments.

Trackpads are easy

Maybe we used to be split between those of us who preferred a mouse to a trackpad and vice versa, but then we found BetterTouchTool and became a little obsessed with it.

It's software that gives your trackpad a just about infinite number of possible gestures. So as well as Apple's Expose trick, we can launch apps, change the Mac's brightness, switch between Desktops or put the computer to sleep with the right tap.

That's tipped the balance for us. So much so that unless you have a specific need for a mouse, we're going to say that you'll find a trackpad to be better use and better value.

Apple Magic Trackpad 2
Apple Magic Trackpad 2


What's more, we're going to say buy Apple's Magic Trackpad 2. It's not cheap, it's around $125 on Amazon, but it is the best there is.

You could look at the VicTsing Ultra-Slim Touchpad Keyboard which is a combination keyboard and built-in trackpad. It's perhaps convenient to have a single unit that does but you'd have to really want that convenience because this just is not our favorite keyboard.

Curiously, Logitech has sold at least a couple of keyboards that have trackpads but many are discontinued. The only remaining ones on Logitech's own website are positioned as being solely for PC-connected TV sets.

If you like the idea of a trackpad coupled to your keyboard and you buy the Apple Magic Trackpad 2, take a look at TwelveSouth's MagicBridge which costs around $35. This is a kind of low tray that holds that trackpad together with Apple's Magic Keyboard.

TwelveSouth MagicBridge
TwelveSouth MagicBridge

Mice are harder

Crack your knuckles and prepare for a far more involved search for the right mouse for you and your new Mac mini. There must be a hundred different Mac-specific mice available and since they connect to your machine via USB, you've also got the choice of most PC mice too.

It's true that you can plug a PC mouse into a Mac and it's also true that the sheer volume of options this gives you is a cacophony. Yet as far as the manufacturers are concerned, we're a happy coincidence, a lucky extra market that they get through no effort.

That means many or even most therefore don't put any effort in to the Mac at all so you end up with a mouse that comes with features and buttons that do absolutely nothing unless you're on a PC.

So before you buy a mouse, check that it is called Mac compatible and exactly what that means: Amazon and manufacturer listings should say if there are limitations.

Make that your last check, though, your last consideration. Before then you need to look at what you're actually going to use the mouse for.

Types of work

Some mice are better made than others but they're all the same when it comes to how precisely you can move your cursor around on the screen. So that's not the issue: the issue is what you're pointing that cursor at and how long you intend to do it.

If you're really more of a keyboard user -- you're a writer in Word, you're an accountant in Excel -- then any mouse will do.

If you're going to be spending your entire day making selections and adjustments to images or video, though, you need to think slightly less about the mouse and quite a bit more about your hand.

You need to find a mouse you can use comfortably and perhaps intensely for very many hours at a time. You will go through few different possibilities before you find the right one for you.

Apple

Apple's Magic Mouse 2 is low-slung, sleek and has no tiny buttons to reach for. It has no buttons at all and is really as much of a trackpad in mice form as it is a mouse.

Apple Magic Mouse 2
Apple Magic Mouse 2


Unless you find it too low on your hand, unless you find that you're scrunching up your grip to swipe trackpad-like gestures on it, Apple's mouse is a good choice.

The sole criticism you'll hear about it is that, being wireless, you have to recharge it and the Lightning port is on the bottom of the mouse. Apple has been ridiculed for putting it there and yet in real-life use, it's a shrug.

Sure, you can't use your mouse while it's charging so in theory you could be on an important deadline when you run out of battery power. Either pay more attention to the Low Battery warnings your Mac mini gives you or just take a two-minute comfort break.

By the time you've done your hand exercises, the mouse will have had enough power to let you get on with the job. Then when you've hit your deadline, leave it charging overnight and forget about it for another few weeks.

We like the precision and the low-slung feel of Apple's mouse. We like the idea of the trackpad-style features more than we actually use them. And, we admit it, we think this is the best-looking mouse there is.

It just might not be the most ergonomic.

Ergonomics

If you already have issues with your hands or you know you will be using a mouse so much that you're at risk of RSI, look to the Logitech MX Ergo Wireless.

Logitech MX Ergo Wireless
Logitech MX Ergo Wireless


It looks like a baseball mitt but it's small enough to sit comfortably under your hand. It's also one where you won't have to move that hand very much: it has a trackball so that you can control your cursor with a flick of your thumb.

This is still really a traditional mouse in how it rests under your hands and maybe that's not the right position for you. Take a look at Anker's vertical mouse instead.

It's a startlingly different look for a mouse but we do know users who find a vertical one to be much better on their hands. Note that Anker's vertical mouse has media control buttons that do not work on Mac.

Anker vertical mouse
Anker vertical mouse

Demanding use

Just as with keyboards, easily the most demanding users are gamers. They need speed, precision and caffeine. The Razer Naga Trinity mouse is so replete with functions that we wouldn't be surprised if it handled coffee too.

Razer Naga Trinity mouse with optional 12-button side panel inserted
Razer Naga Trinity mouse with optional 12-button side panel inserted


You can use this as a regular mouse but the more you get into games, the more you may want to take advantage of its extra options. You can swap out the normal two-button mouse control and instead slot in a 12-button version.

So while you move and point the cursor just as you would with any mouse, right under your thumb there can be up to a dozen more controls.

If they just added a few more, you wouldn't need a keyboard.

Making your choice

This is going to be a bit like a bad murder mystery story where the killer is a character who isn't introduced until the end. For while we've talked about ergonomics and gamers as well as regular mouse users, there is one mouse that sneaks in under the radar because it's good for just about everyone.

We still think that Apple Magic Mouse 2 is a fine choice but if you don't like it or you need a slightly cheaper option, there is the $99 Logitech MX Master 2S.

Logitech MX Master 2S mouse
Logitech MX Master 2S mouse


It's just a solid mouse. It isn't flashy, not over-loaded with features, yet well made and a good option for anyone.

For all that we can tell you what's possible in mice and trackpads, for all that we can caution you what to look out for, it's still a deeply personal choice. So alongside thinking about your ergonomics, thinking about what you'll use the mouse for and seeing if it's Mac-compatible, we have one last thing for you to check -- the returns policy.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    Left handers are completely ignored in mouse section?
    macpluspluswilliamlondon
  • Reply 2 of 31
    These days I use the Apple Trackpad 2 but have that Magic Mouse model that takes AA batteries. Still have an old Trackpad that uses AAs as well.

    Back in the day I had a trackball mouse and have to confess to an affinity for trackballs that probably goes back to Atari Missile Command and other arcade consoles. That and some of the CT and MRI scanners I have used over the years.

    Microsoft has a folding arched mouse for the Surface Computers that can be used on a Mac, but full functionality is not available for the Mac the last time I checked. It looks interesting.

    On the Keyboard side, I have a Logitech model that has been around for many years- the K811 model that has Bluetooth and is also illuminated like an Apple laptop keyboard. Great battery life and has the ability to switch between 3 different BT devices. It has a proximity sensor that lights it up only when your hands get close to save battery life. I would love to see Apple make a similar keyboard.
    cgWerks
  • Reply 3 of 31
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,339administrator
    Left handers are completely ignored in mouse section?
    This is more of an industry-wide problem. Many of the mice we've selected have left-handed options, but not nearly all of them.
  • Reply 4 of 31
    I got an iMac a couple of years ago. I used the Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse for a year and a half and finally said enough. I was tired of the flat keys and bad ergonomic position of the keyboard. I was sick of it not always recognizing that I wanted to wake the system with a keystroke. I was sick of the brain dead charging process of the Magic Mouse. I was sick of how at least once a day the mouse would start tracking at half speed. I'd have to flip it over for a few seconds to get it to reset itself. Traded both in for a mouse and keyboard from MacAlley. They work great, the mouse is flawless, the keyboard is more comfortable to type on and has legs so I can tilt it up for a better position. Oh and they are wired. I really don't see the appeal of Bluetooth mice and keyboards. The cables are really not in the way, you never have to charge them, you never have connection issues, they just work. Especially on something like an iMac with four USB ports it seems far better, for me at least.
    williamlondonpakitt
  • Reply 5 of 31
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,988member
    I really like the Logitech MX Ergo wireless trackball. It supports both Bluetooth and the Logitech unifying receiver. The Bluetooth is very solid and battery life is excellent. I also use a Magic Trackpad 2 on the same machine since certain things are simply much easier on the trackpad, like Safari and changing between desktops. The Apple Magic Mouse is an amazing technological achievement but it’s simply not comfortable for me to use because it’s too flat. 
    pakitt
  • Reply 6 of 31
    Having recently upgraded to Mojave on a new Mac Mini, I am finding that the latest Logitech driver does not recognize my M510 mouse and I get very glitchy functionality. A call to their tech support did not solve the problem. I was using the latest driver which is 3.9.7. Anyone out there have a solution?

    That led me back to the Magic Trackpad which I like for most things but it would be nice to have the mouse for Lightroom. 
  • Reply 7 of 31
    massive peripheral issues dumped on the customer to figure out - so much courage, so much fragmentation, so much poor supply chain - mostly non-existent (monitors, backup devices? dongle-city) Blech. Not to mention the PITA stores of every kind - no way am I going to their store and  despise the app store too. I've seen nothing but degradation in the last few years from Apple HQ.
    /rant
    edited November 2018 williamlondon
  • Reply 8 of 31
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,339administrator
    macdoofus said:
    massive peripheral issues dumped on the customer to figure out - so much courage, so much fragmentation, so much poor supply chain - mostly non-existent (monitors, backup devices? dongle-city) Blech. Not to mention the PITA stores of every kind - no way am I going to their store and  despise the app store too. I've seen nothing but degradation in the last few years from Apple HQ.
    /rant
    What does any of this have to do with mouse and trackpad selection for a computer that has needed you to get your own mouse and keyboard for over 15 years?
    StrangeDayswilliamlondonDAalsethpakitttht
  • Reply 9 of 31
    I've never owned anything but Apple mouse keyboard for past 24 years, always came with the mac.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 10 of 31
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,339administrator
    macdoofus said:
    I've never owned anything but Apple mouse keyboard for past 24 years, always came with the mac.
    The Mac mini has literally always been bring your own keyboard and mouse. This isn't anything new. And, if we want to get pedantic, up until about 1991 or so, the keyboard and mouse wasn't included in the Mac's box on ADB machines like the SE, SE/30, and Mac II -- and a few others.

    I understand some of your other complaints and share some of them. This is just a strange place to put it.
    edited November 2018 macdoofusStrangeDayspakitt
  • Reply 11 of 31
    anomeanome Posts: 1,258member
    Left handers are completely ignored in mouse section?
    This is more of an industry-wide problem. Many of the mice we've selected have left-handed options, but not nearly all of them.

    Tell me about it. Although, after 30+ years of using a mouse right handed, I'm actually better at it that way. Still, symmetry is nice for manual objects, and plenty of right handers I know prefer to use the mouse left handed, either due to personal choice, or because of Occupational Overuse problems.

    These days, for Mac OS particularly, I prefer a trackpad. But it's completely unusable for Windows, because the UI in Windows is just too bloody complicated. Things that are relatively easy on a trackpad in Mac OS are just not possible on Windows.

    cgWerks
  • Reply 12 of 31
    Really the only question for me with regard to Trackpad, Mouse and Keyboard is...
    do I go with the traditional Apple white and silver,
    or the bad-boy black and space-grey versions 🤔😆
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 13 of 31
    DAalseth said:
    I got an iMac a couple of years ago. I used the Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse for a year and a half and finally said enough. I was tired of the flat keys and bad ergonomic position of the keyboard. I was sick of it not always recognizing that I wanted to wake the system with a keystroke. I was sick of the brain dead charging process of the Magic Mouse. I was sick of how at least once a day the mouse would start tracking at half speed. I'd have to flip it over for a few seconds to get it to reset itself. Traded both in for a mouse and keyboard from MacAlley. They work great, the mouse is flawless, the keyboard is more comfortable to type on and has legs so I can tilt it up for a better position. Oh and they are wired. I really don't see the appeal of Bluetooth mice and keyboards. The cables are really not in the way, you never have to charge them, you never have connection issues, they just work. Especially on something like an iMac with four USB ports it seems far better, for me at least.

    - I got the Magic Keyboard because it lays flat and feels ergonomic. My wrists & hands are in a natural position and not bent sharply upward.

    - I just woke my iMac with the Magic Keyboard, works fine. And it does so faster than the work-issued Dell set up right next to it.

    - There is absolutely nothing brain-dead about the Magic Mouse charging -- it lasts for over a month per charge, and it sends push notifications when it gets low, so I plug it in at the end of that day. If I forget and come in the next morning, I can plug it in and get a drink of water or pee, come back, and work all day. What is the problem? Why on earth would I want to use a wireless mouse tethered? Defeats the entire purpose.

    - Wireless is awesome, cables suck. I have two work stations on my desk, which would be four cables going everywhere. Instead it's nice and clean.



    (older pic, was using a Logitech K750 then)

    ...the Magic Mouse 2 is particularly awesome for its touch-sensitive surface. I switch virtual Spaces (desktops) by two-finger-swiping left or right, instantly. I'd use it for this feature alone. True the mouse is a little flatter than I'd like, but I have since modded it w/ MagicGrips:

    https://www.elevationlab.com/products/magicgrips-for-magic-mouse
    edited November 2018 pscooter63
  • Reply 14 of 31

    macdoofus said:
    massive peripheral issues dumped on the customer to figure out - so much courage, so much fragmentation, so much poor supply chain - mostly non-existent (monitors, backup devices? dongle-city) Blech. Not to mention the PITA stores of every kind - no way am I going to their store and  despise the app store too. I've seen nothing but degradation in the last few years from Apple HQ.
    /rant
    What on earth are you talking about? Personal computers have ALWAYS had a million peripherals available for them, and that isn't what "fragmentation" means anyway dur.. On Windows, drivers hell is a thing and nothing is certain. I've had far fewer issues on my Macs.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 15 of 31
    The Apple Magic Mouse is rather inconvenient to use in real life. The shape is too low to be comfortable on the hand to be used for long durations. I didn't bother with the Magic Mouse 2. The Magic Trackpads (both 1 and 2) on the other hand, are fantastic. They're the next best thing to using the Macbook Pro Trackpads.

    Given a choice between a USB keyboard and a wireless keyboard, I'd tend to go for the USB keyboard. For the longest time it was due to the fact that there was no extended Apple Wireless keyboard available. However, I am more comfortable with having a physically attached USB keyboard when it comes to system troubleshooting and recovery.

    One thing that was not explicitly mentioned is that the use of Bluetooth keyboards, trackpads and mice eliminates the need for dongles which take up precious USB slots on the Mini. They seem to be more reliable (and possibly more secure in terms of the communications compared to non-BT dongles?) as well, though it might introduce some latency that may be an issue for gaming (if anyone actually seriously plays games on a Mini).

    edited November 2018 cgWerks
  • Reply 16 of 31

    macdoofus said:
    massive peripheral issues dumped on the customer to figure out - so much courage, so much fragmentation, so much poor supply chain - mostly non-existent (monitors, backup devices? dongle-city) Blech. Not to mention the PITA stores of every kind - no way am I going to their store and  despise the app store too. I've seen nothing but degradation in the last few years from Apple HQ.
    /rant
    What on earth are you talking about? Personal computers have ALWAYS had a million peripherals available for them, and that isn't what "fragmentation" means anyway dur.. On Windows, drivers hell is a thing and nothing is certain. I've had far fewer issues on my Macs.
      Just an opportunity to rant that every time I turn around Apple forces me to buy another cable, another this or that, and takes away stuff I need.. Sorry, I don't drink the kool-aid. I may not be accurate as our moderator pointed out, But I'm right. Yes, I'll take the black keyboard and imac pro aesthetic. Is the keyboard backlit yet? Wireless is great except I use 10 -key/expanded keyboard. The bottom line with me is that I miss Steve and his drive for excellence. Sorry. I am over it but just got a wild hair tonight because mediocrity don't set well with me, I'm used to better. The more we accept it the worse it'll get.

    What monitor do I buy for the new mini? I need all the keyboard controls as if it was an imac.

    edited November 2018
  • Reply 17 of 31
    My biggest gripe is that I am getting a Mini now and on Apple's store there are only the wireless versions of both mouse and keyboard at very high prices. I don't want a wireless set up, especially for the keyboard for a desktop solution. I like the extra 2 USB ports on the iMac keyboard I have now (right were you need them). So now I am looking for a solution from a third party, and I am not really liking what I am seeing.... :(
  • Reply 18 of 31
    macdoofus said:

    macdoofus said:
    massive peripheral issues dumped on the customer to figure out - so much courage, so much fragmentation, so much poor supply chain - mostly non-existent (monitors, backup devices? dongle-city) Blech. Not to mention the PITA stores of every kind - no way am I going to their store and  despise the app store too. I've seen nothing but degradation in the last few years from Apple HQ.
    /rant
    What on earth are you talking about? Personal computers have ALWAYS had a million peripherals available for them, and that isn't what "fragmentation" means anyway dur.. On Windows, drivers hell is a thing and nothing is certain. I've had far fewer issues on my Macs.
      Just an opportunity to rant that every time I turn around Apple forces me to buy another cable, another this or that, and takes away stuff I need.. Sorry, I don't drink the kool-aid. I may not be accurate as our moderator pointed out, But I'm right. Yes, I'll take the black keyboard and imac pro aesthetic. Is the keyboard backlit yet? Wireless is great except I use 10 -key/expanded keyboard. The bottom line with me is that I miss Steve and his drive for excellence. Sorry. I am over it but just got a wild hair tonight because mediocrity don't set well with me, I'm used to better. The more we accept it the worse it'll get.

    What monitor do I buy for the new mini? I need all the keyboard controls as if it was an imac.
    Nah, I don't think you're right, either. I have no idea what you're talking about w/ being "forced" by Apple to buy cables. You mean using USB-C, an industry standard? How is that Apple's fault? Do you mean Lightning cables, which Apple introduced over 6 years ago, and ship with every device that uses it?

    I use the wireless Apple extended keyboard w/ arrow keys and numeric keypad. What are you talking about? Logitech makes one, too. As do others. Again, it's not Apple's fault that there are third-party hardware options, nor is it a bad thing. Just do your homework like anybody else.

    Mediocrity? What on earth are you talking about? I use Macs and Windows machines from multiple vendors, you're nuts if you think Macs are mediocre. They're best in class, and copied & aped by nearly all their competitors. The version of the Apple hardware and Macs I use today are far better than they were in years past (when Jobs was CEO). So again, no idea where you're coming from. They're better, not worse. 
  • Reply 19 of 31
    Left handers are completely ignored in mouse section?
    Nope. The Apple mouse is symmetrical.
    cgWerks
  • Reply 20 of 31

    seanj said:
    Really the only question for me with regard to Trackpad, Mouse and Keyboard is...
    do I go with the traditional Apple white and silver,
    or the bad-boy black and space-grey versions 🤔😆
    That choice is made easier for me by Apple's choice to jack up the price for Space Grey versions. I don't like to use the words "opportunistic cash grab" in a discussion of Apple because it's such a cliché, but in this case it kinda seems like it might be true. The silver-and-white versions are already premium priced. The extra coin for a version that matches the computer seems... I dunno, maybe greedy.
    williamlondoncgWerks
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