The time has come for Apple to ship a two-button scroll mouse standard

I have been a Mac user since The Beginning. I have used a one-button mouse, as per Steve Jobs’ decree, until mid May 2003. That’s a long time. Then, while in Best Buy, of all places, I picked up a Kensington Pocket Mouse Pro because I wanted an inexpensive mouse that would travel well in my backpack. And, of course, I liked the retractable cord that winds into mouse’s body via its “garage door.” After three weeks with it, I can safely say, the time has come for Apple to ship a two-button mouse with a scroll wheel standard.

Almost every current computer user has used a two-button mouse thanks to Windows; the nine out of ten that own a Windows machine and most of the rest of us 10-percenters who are forced to use that platform at work. Only a rare few have managed to completely avoid Windows and the two-button mouse. So, basically, we all know how to use the “right-button” already. Using Mac OS X efficiently requires so many damn “Control-clicks” with Apple’s standard one-button mouse that Apple’s insistence on shipping it is no longer quaint, it’s bordering on criminal. Apple, the time is now.

For the beginner and K-6 education, include the option for a one-button mouse. But, for the rest of us, please make a quality optical two-button mouse with a scroll wheel and ship it standard. We can handle it. Really, we can.

Personally, I feel as if freed from handcuffs. I am no longer wearing boxing gloves. If Mac OS users are 30% more efficient than Windows users with a one-button mouse, imagine us with a standard two-button Apple mouse!

Shipping Mac OS X and a one-button mouse is like Sony shipping televisions without remotes. Or BMW delivering cars with only AM radios; requiring owners to go buy real stereos on their own. It just shouldn’t happen.

I realize the whole “elegance” argument that asks why do something with many buttons that you can do the same with one, but is holding the control key while clicking really doing more with less? Label the right mouse button “Control” if it makes you feel better, but let’s get on with it.

Why make, in my estimation, 80-90% of your users have to go out and upgrade the most basic input device if they want to use Mac OS X dexterously? I realize that many professional users have different input needs; three button mice, graphics tablets, trackballs, etc., but come on already, Apple, get with your own program. You designed the OS and to use it effectively really requires a two-button mouse. So, will you guys finally ship a two-button scroll-wheel mouse standard with all desktops and split that one-button on portable trackpads into two, please?

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.


  1. I agree also. I feel it’s always been a question of design. Can Apple deliver the 2 button mouse without compromising the sleek industrial design and mirror others on the market? If it’s not ground breaking enough they won’t succumb and dig their heels in, rationalising the OBM’s existence.

    Our faith is in Johnathon Ives’ hands.

  2. Your estimation is “80-90%”? Does this mean that over 20 million two button mice have been sold? Where did you get that number?

    As an expert, I can understand why you would want to buy the best input device possible. But, myself, as someone who deals with end users, the one button is just fine. No need to saddle those who are new to the experience with such a mouse.

  3. Nope. Don’t want to see it. Programmers are already getting sloppy re: the Mac interface guidelines. This would just open the floodgates to more counter-intuitive menu design. Let those that must have that second button visit the aftermarket, but leave the Mac interface pure.

  4. Apple and programmers already require Control-clicking, so why provide a one-button mouse? Makes no sense whatsoever. SteveJack is right – Apple wake up.

  5. For the minority who want something more than a one button mouse OS X does support it and the aftermarket supplies a plethora of such devices. The one button mouse works well for most people. Apple shouldn’t stray from the path of success.

  6. John,

    Path of success? Would that be the same path that has resulted in sub-3% market share? And the majority, not the minority, would benefit from a two-button mouse.

  7. Recently, I was helping a friend’s mother on her PC. She has had this machine for around a year, but was still having trouble remembering which mouse button to click to do what. To me, this shows that a non techno-geek computer user still can have problems with a two button mouse, and that Apple is doing the right thing by staying the path of simplicity. I don’t believe that the benefits of going to a two button mouse would outweigh the problems it would create.

  8. I don’t like one-button mice, but they should remain standard equipment on Macs. Why? Because if you’ve ever tried to help your grandmother or grandfather use their computer, about 90% of the time they’re not able to avoid right-clicking when they don’t want to. Add that to the problem of knowing when to click or double-click, and the computer becomes very frustrating for them to use. If you are a power user, it’s much easier for you to buy another mouse and plug it in than it is for my grandmother. For the sake of the aged, don’t be such a Republican: have a heart, try to understand how difficult it is when you’re coordination and vision isn’t what it used to be and let them have their one-button mice…indeed, does anybody besides Apple even make one-button mice?!!

  9. Are we to believe that the majority of Mac OS X users are elderly newbies or pre-schoolers unable to discern their left from their right?

    Bring on the two button-mouse, Apple! As SteveJack wrote:
    “We can handle it. Really, we can.”

  10. LOL

    To all the people that think Apple is doing things right with a one-button mouse…are you joking?

    If people can’t handle a 2 button mouse, I’m surprised they can even dress themselves.

    If you are going to put in a contextual menu system, allow users a way to access in the most sensible manner…with one hand.

    Honestly, what’s easier? Control Click + Mouse Click (2 hands,2clicks) or Right Mouse Click (1 hand, 1 click)….hmm, let me think.

  11. Actually, it’s 1 key, one click.(To bring the menu down.)Then you let off over the highlighted choice ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />
    The one button mouse? It’s just a little thing, not unlike the power eject on Apple’s CDs and floppies that seems to irk the Windows crowd (and the newly converted) so much. I say leave it just like it is. Heaven forbid I cant take the time to lift one measly finger on the occasional times I need a contextual shift. Have you ever noticed the disproportional amount of time that you see the Mac mouse used in computer illustrations? It was on the cover of our phone book last year for heavens sake, and it was the old beige one. But even it was a damn sight better looking than any two (or more) buttoned PC weenie mouse out there.

  12. If there was one thing I wash Apple would do, it would be to restore the soft power key on the keyboard. I know there were a few problems with this when they went to USB, but it was another niceity that the PC world didn’t have.
    RE: the two button mouse, it’s simple. Windows has to have them do to their crude interface structure, Macs do not. Don’t foist anymore of their dongles on us please. The cursor keys still just take up space.

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