one button mouse

December 06, 2003 | View Comments (8) | too easy

I might get flamed for this one, but I just do not understand the logic behind Apple's one button mouse. It seems to be a case where they tried to make something too simple, too easy. Most users are used to the fact that a two button mouse has two buttons because each of those buttons serves a different purpose. There are two possible actions when you see a link on a website. You can left-click it and follow the link or you can right-click it and a menu will popup. Whenever there are more possibilities of action than there are obvious methods of taking those actions, there will be problems. I see a link that I want to save. Do I click on the link? Is there some special keyboard combination that I need to hold down with one hand while holding down the mouse button with the other hand? Sometimes trying to simplify and beautify at the same time can make things more difficult. rx-med.net

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Agreed. The first thing I bought with my Mac ~years~ ago was a new mouse. Three years later and Apple's ~still~ selling mice 'featuring' one dopey button. And yay, now their white instead of black.

Posted by: Dan at December 8, 2003 11:31 PM

I agree 100%. Nowaday's I have to have a mouse that has a wheel that acts as a third button. I wonder what their rationale is...??

Posted by: defHex at December 9, 2003 03:04 AM

In Apple's defense, they were one of the first microcomputer software developers to invest in user testing. When they added the mouse to their system, the world was a different place. Their goal was to come up with a system that anyone could learn with minimal effort. They discovered that naive users were confused by more than one button on the mouse.

I agree that now even the most naive user understands the mouse paradigm and I've been a fan of three button mice for quite a while. At this point I think Apple considers it more a matter of style than anything else. If you want a three button mouse, they reason, you'll get one. Maybe they'll change their minds on this as they have on other aspects of their signature user interface since the arrival of OS X.

Posted by: Kellie Miller at December 9, 2003 09:52 AM

Sure, the one button mouse was probably a good idea at the time, but we all agree that that is no longer the case.

I think Kellie is right, it's a style or design thing. And the current Apple mouse actually is pretty nice to use. I like the way you push on the mouse, rather than a button. However, I prefer not to do without my other buttons.

MacMice has acknoweldged this need and produced a mouse that looks a lot like Apple's mouse, but has two buttons and a scroll wheel. It doesn't have as many features as you can get with other mice, but as a product that lets you preserve the look of your Mac as well as your sanity, it looks pretty neat.


Now if only they would put two buttons in their laptops...

Posted by: Tamara at December 9, 2003 01:20 PM

Ex-mac user longing to go back but present PC user: Not sure if I remember this correctly, but aren't you supposed to hold down the apple key to get the same effect as the regular "right-click"?

Either way, I don't expect you'll get flamed for pointing out a serious flaw in human interface design. One button = poor design. Despite that Macs are still 99% smarter in design, style, function and pure appely goodness!

Posted by: TheDon at December 9, 2003 01:41 PM

While were on the subject of Apple:
Is there anything worse than that darn startup dong??!

Posted by: defHex at December 9, 2003 04:25 PM

"Sure, the one button mouse was probably a good idea at the time, but we all agree that that is no longer the case."

This sounds a lot like opinion and not fact. Has anyone recently tested one vs two button mice with novice users? ....Or have proof that Apple hasn't?

Posted by: jason at December 9, 2003 04:51 PM

I've got a simple solution for you. Go out and get another mouse. When I "switched" I took the Microsoft mouse I'd been using for years, plugged that in and it worked great. Sure helped my switch go more smoothly.

Talk about plug and play. My MS mouse was much easier to get to work with my PowerBook than it was with my PC. No drivers to download, no configuration stuff. Just plug it in to the USB port and it works.

Posted by: Keith at December 9, 2003 05:09 PM

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