Speed Up Your Mouse

June 3rd, 2005 by Steve Pavlina

Here’s a very simple productivity tip that you might find helpful: crank up the speed of your mouse cursor. On Windows you can do this by clicking Start -> Control Panel -> Mouse and adjusting the speed as you see fit.

Everyone has their own preferences of course, but I think the default mouse cursor speed is way too slow for most experienced computer users. The advantage of higher cursor speeds is that you don’t need to physically move the mouse as much to get the cursor to go the same distance on the screen.

On my PC’s slowest mouse speed setting, I have to move the mouse about 28 cm to move the cursor from one side of the screen to the other (acceleration is turned off). I have no idea who’d want to use such a slow setting. But at the fastest speed setting, I only need to move the mouse about 3 cm to accomplish that same cursor movement. The default setting is somewhere in the middle. This is a wide range, meaning that at the lowest speed, I have to move my hand nearly 10 times as far to get the same cursor movement as the highest speed. That’s a lot more potential wrist strain.

You can also fiddle with the acceleration setting. Higher acceleration with lower speeds allows you to move the mouse across large areas quickly while gaining finer control for slow movements. Even the slowest mouse speed with some decent acceleration can be workable.

Currently I use the fastest mouse speed setting with low acceleration, and I think I could handle even faster settings if the driver would allow it. I gradually ramped up my speed from the default setting by two notches at a time (there are 10 notches total). At first my accuracy plummeted with each speed increase, but I got used to the faster speed and finer motor control movements after a couple days, and my accuracy improved.

Aside from reducing wrist strain, I found the faster speeds to be more efficient once I got used to them. It takes a lot less wrist movement to zoom the cursor from one corner of the screen to another.

I can’t handle max speed on my laptop’s touchpad though because it’s too inaccurate, but I’m fine at max speed if I plug in an external mouse.

Faster speeds are easier if you have a good quality mouse. Mine is a Logitech cordless optical mouse. It eats batteries for breakfast, but I can never go back to using a corded rollerball mouse — the cord and the grimy ball reduce accuracy too much and force me to slow down.

This isn’t likely to be deemed the productivity breakthrough of the decade, but given how much you use your mouse each day, might it be worthwhile to push yourself to go faster? Isn’t it time you stopped jerking your wrist around so much? :)



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