A Touch of Magic

A week and a half ago, Apple refreshed some of its product lineup for the holidays. The changes included new unibody plastic MacBooks, gorgeous 21.5” and 27” iMacs, updated Airport Extreme and Time Capsule base stations, an aluminum Apple Remote, and the multitouch Magic Mouse. The Magic Mouse instantly became the object of my desire, and I placed an order for one as soon as the store was updated with the new merchandise. Today, it arrived.

This is purely a thing of beauty.

Alien Technology


This has to be one of the sleekest designs to ever come out of Cupertino. The bottom is aluminum and the top is a curved blade of plastic. The top shell does depress physically for button clicks, but otherwise buttons do not exist.


The top surface is multitouch enabled. It detects when you want to perform a primary click or secondary click (aka right click) by how your fingers naturally interact with other mice. This function can be reversed via software if you mouse with your left hand.


Scrolling is achievable with a soft flick along the surface. The new software for the Magic Mouse even gives scrolling the visual feedback of momentum, much like the iPhone. (Please, Apple, enable momentum when I scroll with the multitouch trackpad built into my MacBook Pro!)


Swiping two fingers left or right allows you to move backward or forward, respectively, between web pages in a browser, or pages within a document, or items in Cover Flow view in Finder or iTunes.


Inevitably, comparisons must be made to the Magic Mouse’s predecessor, the Mighty Mouse. First of all, the Magic Mouse is only available with wireless bluetooth, whereas the Mighty Mouse had wired and wireless varieties (Apple still sells the wired Mighty Mouse, yet it has been rebranded as the Apple Mouse).

Magic vs. Mighty

The Magic Mouse is much lighter and thinner than the Mighty Mouse. In fact, even though both contain two AA batteries, the Magic Mouse is on par with the light weight of the wired (thus without batteries) Mighty Mouse.


One stupendous benefit is the lack of the dreaded scroll ball. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the function of the scroll ball, but only when it actually functioned. Due to a poor design decision, there was no way to clean the scroll ball, and it would often gum up and stop working. I managed to sort of clean it with a cotton ball and some water, but cleaning it was at least a twice-weekly event. Scrolling with a touch sensor is much nicer.


Speaking of the scroll ball, here is one nagging difference where the Magic Mouse is lacking. On the Mighty Mouse, depressing the scroll ball acted as a third button, which I had set up to activate Exposé. Also, there was a fourth button on the side that you could squeeze, which I had set up to enable Spaces. The Magic Mouse lacks these buttons, or even a way to access any tertiary function. Perhaps Apple will be able to add in more gestures through software updates. One can hope.


Honestly, I rarely used the squeezable fourth button on the Mighty Mouse, but I used the tertiary button under the scroll ball a lot.


Thankfully, if you have a Mac notebook manufactured since late 2007 or any of the aluminum external keyboards, there is an Exposé button on the F3 key.


All in all, I am actually enjoying the lower profile of the Magic Mouse, as my wrist doesn’t have to bend at all for my hand to conform to it. Clicking is easy, and scrolling feels more natural than ever. The two-finger swipe is a bit tricky yet, but I think I just need to develop the muscle memory for it, like I did with the multitouch trackpads.


The only things lacking are the ability for at least a tertiary function, and I kind of wish the pinch/zoom gesture were available.


I highly suggest giving the Magic Mouse a try at an Apple Store. If you currently use a Mighty Mouse, I’d say overall it is an upgrade.


I’ve embedded some “unboxing” photos in the slideshow below.