January 17th, 2006 • 10:53 am
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Apple’s Mighty Mouse and the fact that its software still needs work.
Well, it turns out that if you have a Mighty Mouse, you don’t have to wait for Apple to get the message and actually fix the software. You can get USB Overdrive instead.
I had known about USB Overdrive for years, but had never had any use for it, so I had never actually tried it. But the problems I had with the Mighty Mouse software included in Mac OS X were pretty obvious, and I decided to give it a try and see if it would help.
It most definitely does! Unlike Apple’s own preference settings for the Mighty Mouse, USB Overdrive actually does support the two things that I was missing most:
- It lets you change the behaviour of the Mighty Mouse buttons on an application-specific basis. With USB Overdrive, you can have a global setting where horizontal scrolling with Mighty Mouse’s scroll ball works by default, but you can turn off this horizontal scrolling in specific applications where you almost never use horizontal scrolling and it’s far too easy to scroll horizontally by mistake when rolling the Mighty Mouse scroll ball. I turned horizontal scrolling off in Microsoft Word, for example, and it makes a bit difference.
- It has a far greater list of options for actions to assign to the various buttons. For example, you can assign a variety of keystrokes to the scroll ball button (a.k.a. the “middle button”) and to the side buttons that you have to squeeze. I decided to assign the “Page Down” keystroke to the middle button and the “Page Up” keystroke to the side buttons. It is not as convenient as it used to be with the two side buttons on my Kensington Mouse-In-A-Box, but it’s definitely much better than the default behaviour for the middle button, which brings up Dashboard.
USB Overdrive has plenty more options for further customization. I also think it could be further improved, both in its interface and in its features. But it’s already a great utility as it is for those who are frustrated by the limitations of Apple’s own mouse software drivers. And given the time it took for Apple to finally adopt a multi-button mouse, it’ll probably be years before they improve the software significantly.