First Look: Apple Magic Mouse

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People have strong opinions about computer mice—after all, a mouse (along with a keyboard) physically forms a personal connection between you and your Mac. Apple’s new Magic Mouse has a creative new design that, upon first impression, you’ll either love or hate.

The Bluetooth Magic Mouse has no visible buttons. It is a two-button mouse, but there’s no visible separation between right and left. I’m right handed, and I use my middle finger for right click, and my index finger for left click, and in my five hours of use, I never accidentally clicked the wrong button.

The buttons actually click; when you press down, you can see and feel the button depress, and there’s an audible click that sounds authentic. You don’t have to take your finger off the mouse to double click. When I simply rested my hand on the mouse, however, I clicked it.

The Magic Mouse has only two buttons. There are no side buttons, like on the Mighty Mouse (now called the Apple Mouse), nor is there a scroll wheel or scroll ball button. In fact, the Exposé or Dashboard functions found in the Apple/Mighty Mouse are no longer in the Magic Mouse.

Perhaps the most innovative feature about the Magic Mouse is the Multi-Touch support, which effectively replaces a scroll wheel or scroll ball. To scroll a document up, down, left or right, you glide your finger on the mouse in the appropriate direction. Your fingers don’t even have to be at the top of the mouse; you can swipe the area just above the logo if you want, and the scrolling works.

The two-finger swiping, however, wasn’t so easy for me to perform. Two-finger swiping can be used in iPhoto, for example, to move between photos. I found it difficult to keep the Magic Mouse still as I swiped two fingers left or right.

The Magic Mouse has a plastic top, and aluminum bottom with two plastic rails. Moving the mouse on my desktop with and without a mouse pad wasn’t smooth at all—it was a grating sensation.

Apple hasn't yet released the Wireless Mouse Software Update 1.0, which will allow you to use the Magic Mouse on Macs other than the new iMacs, as well as on Mac OS 10.5.8 (Leopard). So I wasn't able to test the Magic Mouse on other Macs or on Leopard.

Below is a ten-second video of the Magic Mouse System Preference, which has built-in video tutorials on how to use Multi-Touch.

We’ll have a full review of the Magic Mouse with a mouse rating coming soon. But we’re able to answer some of the questions that came in from our Twitter followers.

Questions from Twitter and Facebook

Can you move the cursor arrow w/the trackpad? Or, is it just for scrolling? Thx-—StevenNMiller

It’s only for scrolling. Though I guess it’s conceivable that a software driver could be written that allows such functionality. But right now, it doesn’t.

Every Mighty Mouse I got broke due to shoddy (un-Applelike!) workmanship. Can the magic Mouse survive a drop?—RadicalLib

I haven’t dropped a Magic Mouse (yet). And I don’t think I’m going to attempt a drop test until after we’ve completed testing the iMacs But my impression is that the Magic Mouse feels solid, but there’s a definite distinction between the plastic top and the aluminum body. I could see how the two might separate after a hard fall.

Hi. Simple Q. Is there a gestural or physical replacement for buttons 3 & 4. I like Exposé & Dashboard at my fingertips. TIA.—flyperson

I didn’t spot a replacement gesture in the software preferences for buttons 3 and 4 on the Mighty Mouse. In a similar vein as the first question, it seems like such a thing could be written in the software driver, but it doesn’t currently exist.

Is the bluetooth less sketchy that the mighty mouse? IE: mine cuts out when time capsule runs, microwave, you name it...—lbabinz

I was actually surprised at how responsive the Bluetooth was, especially after the Magic Mouse was idle for several minutes. In my testing, the response from sleep was nearly instantaneous. I didn’t notice any drop outs while mousing around.

Does the magic mouse fit better in your hand than the mighty mouse?—aaront

No. The Magic Mouse has the lowest profile of any mouse I’ve used. The natural curve of my palm and fingers are better suited for the Apple/Mighty Mouse. I had to make my hand more flat to conform to the Magic Mouse. It wasn’t unbearably comfortable, but I was conscious of my hand being there.

Do you know if Apple plans to make a wired version of the Magic Mouse for us Mac Pro users without Bluetooth?—mgetzski

Apple’s usual response to questions like yours is, “We don’t comment on plans for possible future products” or something like that. My guess is that they aren’t going to make a wired Magic Mouse. iMacs come with a wireless keyboard and mouse, and all new Macs and MacBooks come with Bluetooth.

Will the new mouse be able to allow for browsing functions it features for safari for other browsers like firefox?—jameskang

To me, this seems like functionality that could possibly be added to the software driver in future revisions, but they don’t exist now. You can scroll up, down, left, and right on a Web page, or use a two-fingered swipe left to go back a page and a two-fingered swipe right to go forward a page, but that’s it.

Have u had any false clicks? (right clk turned out as a left) & have you found the gestures fit for “instinctive” use?—itaialter

I didn’t experience any false clicks. The gestures do seem intuitive to me, except for zoom, which you enable by holding down the Control key on your keyboard and then swipe up or down. I wanted to do the pinch movement that you do on the iPhone and the MacBook trackpad.

[Roman Loyola is a Macworld senior editor.]

[Editor's note: Updated 10/21/09 at 3PM PT to correct zooming key combinaiton with the Magic Mouse.]

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