ComputerBill's Computer Repair

Orange Park: (904)

Most of us have become rather dependent on the mouse. If you don't believe me, just consider how difficult it is to operate your computer without one.

A mouse which is difficult to control can be caused by an uneven surface upon which the mouse is moved, a dirty mouse, or a mouse which is warn out. First, ensure that the surface on which the mouse is moved is smooth, free of grease or sticky matter, and generally offers a uniform level of friction with which to rotate the mouse ball smoothly. Try a mouse pad if you do not already have one and consider replacing the one you have that looks like the mens room sink at a bus station. If the surface on which the mouse moves is acceptable try cleaning the mouse. To clean the mouse first power down the computer then detach the mouse from the chassis. A PS/2 style mouse, which connects via a round connector approximately 1/4" diameter, is detached by slightly rocking the connector side to side as it is pulled out. A serial style mouse, which connects via a connector shaped like a narrow "D", is detached by unscrewing the two attaching bolts and slightly rocking the connector side to side as it is pulled off. Bring the mouse to a well lit area, turn it over, and look for an indication of how to remove the plate which retains the mouse ball. Some models are marked with a straight arrow to show which way to slide the plate for removal and other models show a circular arrow to indicate which way to rotate the plate for removal. After removing the plate the mouse ball can be removed, washed in warm soapy water to remove any grease or contaminants on the surface and dried thoroughly with a lint free towel. The preceding, which is often described in users' manuals, will likely have little effect on the operation of the mouse. To really clean the mouse, you need to clean the small delicate rollers you can see after the mouse ball has been removed and which are rotated by the mouse ball. A toothpick, tweezers, and magnifying glass are recommended to clean the buildup off the rollers. The contamination is often gray colored and is seen as a ridge of material around the middle of the rollers. The toothpick is used to gently dislodge the material and the tweezers to remove it from the body of the mouse. The objective is to restore the rollers to a condition where the surface does not have bumps or ridges. Also, examine the ends of the rollers to ensure that fibers have not become wound around the rollers. If this has occurred, use the tweezers to unwind the fibers. After cleaning, the rollers, insert the mouse ball, reattach the mouse ball retaining plate by sliding or rotating the plate in the direction opposite of that used to remove it, plug in the mouse and start up the computer. If cleaning has not corrected the problem it is time to replace the mouse. Be sure to make note of whether you need a PS/2 style (with the round connector) or serial style (with the narrow "D" shaped connector) before you obtain a replacement.

If a mouse doesn't work at all, and there is no message from the computer that a mouse was not detected, you need to determine whether the driver is correct. Your best bet is to determine the manufacturer and the model, go to the web site of the manufacturer and download the most recent driver. After downloading, follow the appropriate instructions to install the driver. If this still doesn't work, your should replace the mouse.

If Windows outputs a message that a mouse was not detected, ensure that the mouse connector had not worked loose from the back of the computer chassis. Remove the mouse connector and reinsert it. One other thing to check is the pins in the PS/2 mouse connector. I have come across a number of instances where a client has moved their machine, disconnected the mouse and reconnected it only to find their mouse inoperative. The cause was traced to the client inadvertently bending the pins when reinserting the mouse which required the use of tweezers to straighten out the pins.

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ComputerBill's Computer Repair. All rights reserved. Last reviewed: 21 June 2001