« You Just Won! | Main | You've Got to Hold It »

Wednesday, 03 February 2021


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I worked for Apple for years doing support and found continual issues with BT mice was often caused by other BT mice in the house, including one where the customer remembered an old one stored in the basement. He went and tracked it down, removed the battery or turned it off, issue resolved. The issues can show up as continual OR intermittent as the Mac connects back and forth to the different mice. BT range can be farther than you might expect.

Not saying this is for sure your issue, but Apple products tend to be more robust than the string of failures you seem to be experiencing.

I had the same problem on a laptop. The laptop was too good to abandon, so I made replacement letters on a Brother label maker, white letters on black, and they lasted forever. Half inch tape was a good size, and usually you have the choice of several fonts. If the rest of the keyboard is good, you won't be disappointed, even if you have to buy the label machine.

mike - stick-on letters? Buy self-adhesive labels, type the alphabet, cut and stick, replace as needed.

Your (computer) mouse problem might be dust and crud inside, around the axle of the mouse wheel. If you can open the mouse and access the innards, you might see the crud and be able to remove it with tweezers or some such. It could be worth 10 minutes to try.

I thought people used those stick-on letters to solve keyboard-letter fading. It’s never happened to me so maybe they are no good.

Even simpler, go over the letters with a fine tip Sharpie or other permanent marker.

I had used Microsoft’s ergonomic keyboard as well but mine gave up the ghost last year so I switched to the Logitech Ergo K860. I really like the Logitech but it’s expensive compared to the Microsoft and I kinda wish it were backlit. Without backlighting the Logitech’s two AAA batteries are supposed to last two years though. I currently use a Goal Zero USB light to illuminate the keyboard.

Mice: In my experience they didn't/don't fail all at once. They become a little wonky and then a little more wonky and then then wonky to the point of annoyance then eventually unusable which is when I look for a suitably inexpensive replacement.

That was stupid. Now, when a mouse gives the slightest hint of impending wonkiness I buy a new one with no regard to price. Or maybe a little regard to price but not enough to delay purchase by more than a day or so.

I value my sanity ... but apparently not yet enough to keep a spare mouse on hand.

I just print out a sheet of paper with the alphabet in a typeface and size that matches the keyboard. These get glued onto and taped over illegible keys. Low-tech fix but it's cheap and it works.

I've become entirely reliant on split keyboards and used those Microsoft 4000 ergo units. I too went through many copies. They all wore out. The next best thing I've found is the Microsoft Sculpt; unfortunately, it's not nearly as good as the old 4000.

Things like keyboards should get better, not worse.

Have you tried to open the wheel mouse and remove the dust in the wheel?
The wheel motion usually gets picked up by an optical sensor and dust mice just block it. You might have to remove some stickers on the bottom to find the screws.
Too many mouses!

We have the furry kind of mice too. Old houses in winter, it's a thing. Had a squirrel trying to chew its way inside the other day, making good progress. Opened the window and waved a broomstick at it. Don't want squirrel babies in the walls.

My bluetooth mice I have now put in the big plastic "misc electronics" bin for long term storage. Decided I hate them. Went back to wonderfully reliable, never-need-a-charge, corded mice. I really like this small one by Jelly Comb. It says for small hands but it feels good in my medium large hands. I even use one for laptops sometimes. Plus it's cheap, and has a great click.



You could apply some clear nail polish on the 'new' keys, to protect them from wearing.

If you happen to find a split keyboard that is backlit, please post the info. I've used a split keyboard for years to alleviate a repetitive-strain injury, and need the backlit keys so that I can see them in the dim light of my work-cave.

Ha, keyboards. I guess it is necessary to spend at least $150.00 on a keyboard these days to get one that lasts and feels good.

I'v bought keyboards from $35.00 to $75.00 they last perhaps a year and start to fall apart in various ways. In any case they don't feel right.

I still miss the old, heavy, large IBM keyboards with the clicky keys- I felt like I was really typing.

It is still possible to get the clicky feel of a real keyboard, they are made by a number of mfg's. Got to go to google to find one and make myself happy. (and make sure they have a good return policy)

Mike, did you ever try to work completely mouseless? How about testing the Apple Magic Trackpad II or an equivalent? Way more comfortable and you won´t have troubles with RSI syndromes any more, hopefully...

On the mouse, whatMac OS are you using?

We have had some problems too, with 3 different Magic Mice on 2 computers (MBpro). We were using 10.13 and had problems, updated to 10.15 and things work better, but sometimes it just slows down so much we revert to a wired mouse.

1. Try rebooting and see if it works then. We have several things that cause us to reboot, incl. apps becoming non-responsive but not showing up on Force Quit as a problem.

2. Go to Preferences/Mouse and delete the mouse, then restart using a USB>lightning connector.

Comment: OS-X ain't bulletproof like it used to be!

On the keyboard, one kid is a guru on keyboards - programmer for movies and games. Will post when he gets back to me on recommendations.

Mike, this does not only relate to technical equipment.

I dunno what it is like in the USA, no longer allowed to visit, but it is almost impossible to find trousers (pants) that are not laced with some sort of stretch fibre.

I like a bit of air... I seriously don't like stuff that fits too closely, and stretch clings and itches, it is very irritating.


Just to note that if you wait too long for your humane intervention, 2 mice will turn into more than 2 mice!

I've gone through several Apple Might Mouses. They eventually get debris under the scroll ball and stop working. The simplest and easiest solution is to turn it upside down on a piece of paper and roll it forward and back, side to side, for a few minutes. You will see some of that internal gunk on the paper. I've also used a bit of gentle cleaning solutions to loosen up the debris. This works for a while, then you have to do it again. And again. Eventually, I replaced my mouse.

Currently I'm using a wired-USB mouse: Logitech M100. It's as basic as they come. It's ambidextrous. It's large enough to fit my hand (I wear size XL gloves). It just works.

Here's the comments from Son Dan, the programmer. BTW, he's almost 40, so he's been researching this for over two decades:

I use this one, but it's crazy expensive for what it is and takes months to learn -


Those split microsoft ones are fine. By and large ergo keyboards don't do much though. If he's already injured (/ diagnosed with carpal tunnel) some wrist braces and a better chair would be the best bet. If he takes two fingers and taps hard on the tendons below the wrist his fingers should tingle alarmingly which means the nerves are compressed.


If so, basically just a bunch of ibuprofen and stop using a keyboard/mouse immediately to prevent permanent nerve damage. And then obviously see a doctor. For me it settles down after a day or so but that's definitely pushing the limit of what would be medically advisable. In college they made me take 3 weeks off.

My electric standing desk is the best thing I have for it since I can sit and stand and move around however I like.


Ikea has them now for like 1/4 what I paid -


Also if a mouse is bothering me I have a pen tablet that lets you map the screen 1:1 to the tablet surface so you can click immediately where you need to. It saves a LOT of extra motion but it's a bit of a pain in the ass. A touchpad would work also as long as you're careful not to rest your wrist on the edge of the desk.

Other things to try are a yoga ball for a few hours a day to get your spine and abdomen active. I hated it but it does work. Also a 'posture correction' harness that forces your shoulder blades together will help by taking some of the strain off the stabilizing muscles in the upper back. A physical therapist would be able to help a lot more.

Employers usually happily pay for this stuff too because... it's a valid workman's comp claim. I know people that went on disability for months because of it.

1. The "JT Eaton 421CL Repeater Multiple Catch Mouse Trap with Clear Inspection Window" is effective and humane. Mice are wild creatures and it is humane to let them out in the woods. They also carry disease.

2. You can get individual replacement keys off ebay for 3$ apiece. Or you can get a set of stickers off of Amazon to apply to the keys. ("Replacement English US Keyboard Stickers ON Black Background")

3. The scroll wheel sensor has some dirt on it. Try taking it apart and cleaning the fluff out. There's got to be a youtube video for it.

You can clean the scroll wheel by turning the mouse upside down, pressing the wheel down onto a piece of paper and rocking backwards and forwards a bit.

When the scroll ball of the Mighty Mouse goes intermittent: turn the mouse upside down and rub the scroll ball vigorously across a sheet of paper, in all directions. Ta-dah! Works like new.

Maybe a little Heath Robinson, but you can get letter sticker kits for just this problem. There are logitech ergo keyboards that are similar and are durable.

How I wish Microsoft would resurrect their old mouse and keyboard lines. I've been using the same Microsoft Trackball Explorer for 20 years now. I fear the day it finally breaks as there is nothing like it on the market today (I've tried so many trackballs!). Even used examples are into the hundreds of pounds.

Hopefully there's a TOP reader in a position of power in Microsoft's hardware division!

Just curious Mike. Have you ever tried a trackball? I started my personal computer journey back in the 1980s with a mouse. Then someone in the mid-90s introduced me to trackballs. I have never gone back to a mouse.
I think that trackballs just might work for you as a Southpaw. I use a very sturdy Logitech 910-806. Very reasonably priced, wired, big, easy to manipulate marble, and I have only had to buy two in about 20 years.
You do need to get used to them, just as I can not work a mouse worth a darn if I happen to be on someone else's computer. The only maintenance that is needed is cleaning the optical sensors under the ball. It just pops out. The sensors accumulate dust and the response of the ball deteriorates. Easy to tell when it need a swab and a dab of alcohol.
Give it a try. Unless you have already put trackballs on your "No Thanks" list. If you do not like it, I will buy it from you. Staples has them for $25.

Here are two suggested analogies: Sweeping the floor with a shovel and digging a hole with a broom.

Mike, I've burned through many a mouse, but last year discovered that there's a higher level of mouse for gamers. Right now using a "Deathadder Elite" by Razor, Inc. It cost twice what the regular mice cost, but, as you might imagine, gamers demand precision and reliability. I've learned to use the mouse with my left hand, just to share the fatigue, and it leaves my right hand free for taking notes. I haven't changed the buttons, but you could reverse them in preferences. Would that make it left-handed?

I recommend the Kinesis Freestyle2 keyboard. Fully split, so you can fine tune the angle. Has feet so you can optionally raise the back -- I prefer not to. Available in Windows and Mac keyboard layouts.

Mice, oh there are so many mice. Plus the Apple Magic Trackpad -- but it's NOT good for Photoshop. Have a trackball for that.

Best of luck with your rodent relocation program. Years ago I trapped and relocated an urban raccoon nearly every day for a month before admitting defeat. It didn't make a dent in their population. At another place I let nice big rat snakes help me take care of the mice, and they can be pretty cute, too. Once a baby (foot and a half) rat snake stared at me through the bathroom window at a particularly predictable moment. Find the amusing in your infestation, lest it drive you mad.

I was drafted in early May of 1952 and sent to fight in Korea. My Army boots were of a size that I found quite comfortable, so I never saw any sense in trying out other shoe sizes. In the 67 years that have elapsed since my discharge I have NEVER bought any shoes by "trial fit"; I merely specify the size, buy them, and depart. (In the course of the last 20+ years I buy all shoes online.) I have never been disappointed, but I do restrict my suppliers. I buy only Florsheim dress shoes, and only Vasque "everyday" shoes. Both companies have always provided shoes of consistent and dependable fit regardless of style.

How are the mice failing? Two things: first, I’ve heard that the newer Mac Minis have a potential Bluetooth interference issue when using one of the USB-A ports. I’ve not personally had this problem.

Second, I replaced one of my magic mice because it would randomly stop tracking and only move in one dimension. Banging it one the table sometimes fixed it. It drove me nuts and I finally replaced it. My replacement started to do the same thing. Turns out it was dust or cat hair that would get stuck in the ‘laser’ hole in the bottom. All I needed to do was run my finger over the hole to clear it out and the mouse was fine.

Hello Mike the Bluetooth issue is quite well known in internet circles. It's a connectivity problem that applies to keyboards also. Do a YouTube search you'll see plenty of options on a fix.

You problem with the mouses is that nobody really understands them anymore, and the way they interface with the computer. ALL computer geeks will say it's just not so, but it is so. The software that runs our computers is so complicated that nobody can fix it. I have a bug in Word for Mac -- or perhaps my son does. When I finish writing a novel and have copy-edited, I send it off to him for a final work-over. No rewriting of anything, but making sure there aren't any invisible double-spaces, that the formatting is correct, etc. Somewhere, between the two of us, we have a bug that is driving us insane. What is does is, it moves a possessive apostrophe to the following words. "The Davenports' house" becomes "The Davenports 'house." This happens hundreds of times in a manuscript, and must be fixed by hand. By me. We have very similar Macs machines running the same operating system, with the same version of Word for Mac with the same updates. I'm confident that nobody can fix this, because **nobody understands the software anymore.** They keep sticking on mindless "updates," but the underlying software can't do some of the simplest things. My first published novel was written on a Radio Shack TRS-80 (I think) using a tape recorder for mass storage. No problem, there, it was basically a typewriter with a video screen. Microsoft Word, on the other hand, could probably handle a moon landing, but is SOL when it comes to possessives.

As an aside, when I broke my arm last summer, halfway through a novel, I couldn't cock my right hand to the right, as you must do with a standard keyboard. So, I went out and bought one of those Microsoft ergonomic keyboards and it was worse than the unglued apostrophes. I had it for two days, and, knowing that I'd never use it again, threw it away. I specifically remember hiding it in the trash so my wife wouldn't see it. If only you'd spoken sooner. 8-)

As Michael exhorted in an earlier comment: Trackball, trackball, trackball. I recommend the Kensington Expert mouse. Big, heavy, satisfying.

If you have two or more houses, don't you have hice?

If you're running Big Sur, make sure you install the latest update. It may completely resolve your Bluetooth woes.

I always experience lag and dropouts with Bluetooth mice and usb-c so I always use a wired mouse. My preference is for the Kensington Expert Trackball. It also maximizes real estate so that I can also use my Wacom tablet without constantly knocking into it with a mouse.

To fix the rolling ball scroller on magic mice, the above advice on rolling it on a blank piece of paper is sound. I'd also add that wiping the ball with a wet tissue first will loosen dust on the rollers, then moving on paper will clean them off. It should be as good as new after.


Well made keys are double shot plastic so that the keyboard letters are the full thickness, and so can't ever wear off.

The lettering wears off when they are printed or silk screened on top of the surface of the cheaply made keys.

@ John Camp. I am not surprised that anyone should have problems with writing novels in MS Word, I don’t think it was designed for that purpose. I wonder why you don’t use something like Scrivener that was designed for writers? I think there are others.

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007