7 Apps For Getting The Most Out Of Your Mouse

Whether you love them or hate them, you can’t deny that Apple’s family of mouses (mice?) have come a long way since the dreaded Hockey Puck, and provide a dramatically different experience than almost any other mouse on the market. The entire line up of peripherals feature multi-touch gesture support, which can be modified (along with tracking behavior) quite extensively from the preference pane built in to OS X.

But why should it stop there? The mouse is the primary medium through which we interact with our computers, so it stands to reason that it should be an implement with almost limitless power. I’ve wrangled up seven great apps that extend the functionality of your mouse, whether you’re using a Magic Mouse, the external Magic Trackpad, or the built in trackpad. Heck, most of these even work with third party mice.

CatchMouse

Let’s start simple. CatchMouse is a handy little utility for those of us with multi-monitor set-ups. Dragging your mouse across double or even triple the standard screen real-estate can be tedious, so CatchMouse sets you up with a shortcut key for instantly moving your cursor to a given monitor.

Set unique shortcut keys for each monitor in your rig, and activate it to jump your cursor. Admittedly, it takes a bit of getting used to, but it can definitely improve your workflow.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5+
Developer: FTNew

Sapiens

Sapiens is a really unique mouse-oriented application launcher. Once installed, it is activated by moving your cursor in a circle on your screen until the radial application picker menu shows up. What’s more is that if you perform this gesture while dragging a file, you’ll be presented with a set of applications that you can use to open that file.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Sapiens is that it is “smart.” What the developer means by this is that, over time, Sapiens attempts to learn the ways in which you use the applications on your Mac, and presents you with the apps you’re most likely to want to run next. While Sapiens won’t always get it right (especially in the beginning), you can always begin typing to do a manual search for the app you want to launch.

Check out the developers website for an introductory video on how Sapiens works.

Price: $9.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6.6+
Developer: Giovanni Donelli

MagicPrefs

MagicPrefs

MagicPrefs is actually a System Preferences prefpane, so you won’t be able to find it in the Mac App Store. It is a utility that is designed to exponentially expand the functionality of your Apple Mouse, whether it’s the Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, or Macbook trackpad.

MagicPrefs allows you to specify certain actions for 1-4 finger clicks, taps, and swipes, and even confine them to certain zones on your device to further increase the number of possible executable actions. Head over to the website for a more in-depth explanation of what’s possible with MagicPrefs.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.7+
Developer: Vlad Alexa

Mousepose

Mouseposé

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you wanted an elegant way to accentuate the location and actions of your mouse cursor? Perhaps you were creating a screencast tutorial, or you were giving a presentation on a projected screen. Well Mouseposé is designed to do just that.

Mouseposé will dim your screen, and shine a spotlight on your cursor, drawing attention to what you’re doing. It will also illustrate mouse clicks with a radial animation, so your viewers know exactly what you’re clicking on and when. The app will even call out keystrokes on a lower-third, so that all of your input is conveyed to your viewers.

If you find that you often have others watching your actions on your computer, Mouseposé is the way to go to make that a more enjoyable and effective experience.

Price: $1.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6.6+
Developer: Boinx

FinalTouch

FinalTouch

FinalTouch is a highly specialized app, but also potentially one of the most useful. It is a lightweight menubar app that creates a shortcut key that can be used to toggle between two different mouse speed settings. If you dabble in the visual arts at all, and especially if you have a larger monitor, you will likely find FinalTouch quite handy.

Features include two different key modes (toggle, press and hold), customizable hotkey, and a slider that allows you to set a slower speed as a percentage of your default tracking speed.

Price: $8.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6+, 64-bit processor
Developer: Black&White

EasyDrag

EasyDrag

EasyDrag is another very simple, single-use utility for improving the way your mouse works. Designed specifically for trackpad users, EasyDrag can bind a keyboard key to the left or right-click functions, making clicking and dragging using either button much easier.

You know how difficult it is to click and drag using your trackpad. Binding an unused keyboard key (the fn key, by default) frees up your fingers so that you’re free to drag files as far as you need to around your desktop.

Price: $4.99
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6+, 64-bit processor
Developer: Nikolozi Meladze

MouseCoordinates

CursorCoordinates

CursorCoordinates is another very niche app, but to the right people, it can be a savior. Web developers, designers, engineers, and any other users that might deal with screen dimensions could benefit from this apps menubar display of the current coordinates of your cursor.

Additional functionality includes the ability to set the origin to any of the screen’s corners, the current location of the mouse, or a specific point based on a set of coordinates.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6.6+
Developer: Limit Point Software

Wrap Up

This list contains only a few of the most helpful apps for expanding the functionality of your mouse. Do you modify your mouse’s behavior in any other ways? Let us know if we missed anything awesome!


  • Chris M

    I’ve made extensive searches for a solution to this question: How can I change the graphic image of my mouse cursor in Mac OSX Lion?

    I want to change the actual graphic, not just the ‘appearance’ or the ‘size.’ Thankfully, now, at least you can change the size of the arrow pointer in the accessibility options and not get some pixelated version of an arrow, but this still isn’t what I’m looking for.

    The closest thing the ever existed was “Mighty Mouse” from unsanity. Sadly, the development on these apps have ceased and the methods that were used are not sanctioned by Apple [read: 'hacks'] for modifying the operating system.

    I’m not interested in iCursor, PinPoint, OmniDazzle, StarTrails, or Mousepose. Can anyone suggest a program that can change the graphic image of the mouse cursor?

    • http://joshguerette.com Josh Guerette

      Unfortunately, Apple has never opened up the ability for the mouse cursor to be easily changed, so any app that could do it would be a “hack”. Also, it’s not something that’s popular anymore (in fact, I don’t know anyone who’s done it in years), so there do not appear to be many apps still compatible with Lion (or even Snow Leopard) available.

  • Rob

    Missing there: Steermouse (http://plentycom.jp/en/steermouse/). Being using it since 2008 with 7 button gaming mouse for audio editing with pro tools. Great piece of software.

    • Quine

      I definitely want to second SteerMouse. It is one of the more reliable pieces of software I have ever used, and its developer offers fantastic support.

      It lets you customize all kinds of things about your mouse functionality, not the least of which is what each button (+ scroll wheel) does in *each* application, which is incredibly useful. It also offers better support for many-button mice than the original drivers (my razer mice work way better on os x than windows despite the lack of an official driver).

  • Ricky

    A nice list with some apps I use oa regular basis and some others I will definitely be checking out now.
    Although not specifically mouse based I would say that Dropzone is worth a mention as it operates in (I assume) a very similar style to Sapiens but offers much more functionality that simply opening files with set applications.

  • http://iynque.com iynque

    I use BetterTouchTool. Can anyone compare it with MagicPrefs?

    I have used Sapiens for years. It’s a REALLY nice app. I find myself on other people’s Macs spinning the cursor and wondering why I don’t see Sapiens xD

  • Dev

    There cant be a list without bettertouchtools

  • Courtney Engle

    I love OmniDazzle for screencasting and BetterTouchTool for gesture control. Both are free

  • Susan Jenner

    Not an app, but worth mentioning for magic mouse users. Fliders made my magic mouse move smoother and quieter right on my desk. After hours of use daily, the pain that I felt in my wrist has gone away. Plus, I threw away my mousepad, since Fliders protect both the bottom of my mouse and my desk surface.

    Here’s their website, they are offering free replacements for life!
    http://www.fliders.com

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