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. [Review updated October 26, 2009]

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.

Apple Magic Mouse review

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.

Magic Mouse design

The top surface of the Magic Mouse has a nice, smooth feel, while the aluminium along the sides has enough texture for gripping. Like the Apple Mouse - the new name for the Mighty Mouse - the Magic Mouse has no visible buttons; it also does not have a scrollball.

The Magic Mouse has a very low profile, the lowest of any mouse I've used. It measures 4.50 inches long and 2.13 inches wide, rising 0.93 inches off the table.

If you like having the lower part of a mouse resting against your palm, the Magic Mouse may be too low. Generally, I don't need to have the mouse against the palm of my hand, but if this is your preference, you may have a problem with this mouse.

Turn the Magic Mouse over, and you'll find the battery compartment, which houses two AA batteries.

The laser optics are located near the top of the mouse. The power switch is next to the optics.

The bottom of the mouse also has two plastic rails upon which the Magic Mouse moves.

Magic Mouse multi-touch

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.Multi-Touch technology is used in the iPhone and on the MacBook trackpads; in the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch acts in place of a scrollball.

You can use the whole surface above the Apple logo for finger swipes. You can swipe up, down, left, right, diagonally, or even in a circle, and your onscreen window will move in the respective direction. Scrolling with Multi-Touch is easy and feels natural.

The other helpful Multi-Touch functions are two-finger swiping left or right for going forward or back in iPhoto or Safari, and holding down the Control key on your keyboard and swipe up and down to zoom.

I had to practice the two-finger swipes because at first, my touch was too heavy and I would move the whole mouse.

You can't use Multi-Touch if you run a non-Mac operating system on your Mac, either through a virtualization application like VMware, or via Boot Camp. The Magic Mouse then becomes a basic two-button mouse.

Multi-Touch works smoothly on the Magic Mouse, but it doesn't feel more advantageous or worse than a scrollball.

And because of this, I'm left feeling that Multi-Touch on a mouse has the potential for more. Hopefully, driver updates or third-party applications will include more functions that will demonstrate the input advantages of Multi-Touch on a mouse.

There is a maintenance advantage; the lack of moving parts means you don't have to worry about a clogged or broken scrollball.

Apple Magic Mouse design

However, the biggest disappointment with the Magic Mouse is the way the mouse feels as it moves on a table, mouse pad, or desktop.

The Magic Mouse rests on two plastic rails, and the rails need to have enough grip on the surface so the Magic Mouse stays still while you perform Multi-Touch gestures. The result is a grinding, rough feel. I prefer a smooth ride.

NEXT: Apple Magic Mouse buttons

Magic Mouse buttons

There are only two buttons on the Magic Mouse, a severe limitation - especially for anyone who's already using a mouse with more than two buttons, like the Apple Mouse.

I bring up the Apple Mouse specifically because it features a pair of side buttons that, by default, launch Exposé. The Magic Mouse doesn't offer Exposé access.

When I asked Apple representatives if it was possible to offer Exposé access in a future driver revision, the response wasn't yes or no, but to suggest using an F-key on the keyboard.

When you right- or left-click the Magic Mouse, the whole top of the mouse presses down and there's an audible click sound.

Despite the lack of delineation between the two buttons, I never inadvertently clicked the mouse or clicking the wrong button.

And as mentioned earlier, there's no scrollball button. On the Apple Mouse, the scrollball button is set to launch Dashboard by default. As with Exposé, Apple recommends using an F-key to launch Dashboard.

You can configure the Magic Mouse's buttons can be configured through the Mouse system preference, which also has video demonstrations on how to perform the Multi-Touch functions.

Other Magic Mouse features

I didn't have any transmission problems with the Magic Mouse's Bluetooth, which has a range of 33 feet.

After sitting idle long enough to trigger the mouse's sleep mode, the mouse reconnects with the Mac virtually instantaneously - a pleasant surprise. I'm used to Bluetooth mice and keyboards taking a few seconds to reconnect.

The on-screen tracking is excellent. I never experienced gaps, and the cursor always kept up with both long and precise movement.

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) rather than the latest Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard). So I wasn't able to test the Magic Mouse on other Macs or on Leopard.

How to use the Apple Magic Mouse

Click
Magic Mouse is an advanced point-and-click mouse that lets you click and double-click anywhere on its Multi-Touch surface.

Two-button click
Magic Mouse functions as a two-button mouse when you enable Secondary Click in System Preferences. Left-handed users can reassign left and right click, as well.

360° scroll
Brush one finger along the Multi-Touch surface to scroll in any direction and to pan a full 360 degrees.

Screen zoom
Hold down the Control key on your keyboard and scroll with one finger on Magic Mouse to enlarge items on your screen.

Two-finger swipe
Using two fingers, swipe left and right along the Multi-Touch surface to advance through pages in Safari or browse photos in iPhoto.

Apple Magic Mouse: Specs

  • Bluetooth-enabled Mac computer
  • Mac OS X v10.5.8 or later with Wireless Mouse Software Update 1.0
  • Existing keyboard and mouse for setup
  • Bluetooth-enabled Mac computer
  • Mac OS X v10.5.8 or later with Wireless Mouse Software Update 1.0
  • Existing keyboard and mouse for setup

OUR VERDICT

Apple's old Mighty Mouse suffered from a build up of dust and gunk that frequently stopped proper operation. The Magic Mouse does away with the mouse scroll ball altogether and moves to Apple's preferred touch technologies. The Multi-Touch support is great but two-finger swiping takes some getting used to. Although it’s not perfect, the Apple Magic Mouse successfully combines design and usability. It's great as a two-button wireless mouse, but if you need more than two buttons, the Magic Mouse is not for you.

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