Some Mac users, especially those that come from the Windows world, are bugged by OS X’s mouse acceleration curve. A number of developers have created software utilities to alter this behavior.
To provide some background information about what exactly the “mouse acceleration curve” is, a comparison is in order. In Windows operating systems, mouse cursor movements are tied to a curve that some people claim is more “natural” than the one in Mac OS X. That is, cursor movement in Windows gradually increases as mouse speed increases. Mac OS X’s cursor movements, however, are slow to start and then suddenly go ultra-fast. This leads to a lot of sluggishness, followed by erratic behavior – with not much in between.
I should mention that I personally like the way Macs handle mouse acceleration. It makes precise maneuvers easy, which helps me feel in control. But there are a lot of Mac users out there who disagree and are in need of solutions that alter the default acceleration curve. Increasing the tracking speed in System Preferences condenses the curve, but it doesn’t change its shape. And that’s really the only way to accomplish what people are looking to do.
Here are 5 Mac utilities that alter the mouse acceleration curve, speeds, and/or add features to mice in OS X:
$20 (Shareware; Free unlimited, fully functional trial)
USB Overdrive is a popular program that works with just about any USB or Bluetooth input device. It allows users to customize mouse acceleration, scrolling, clicking, and more. You can even configure per-application settings. A new version that supports Multi-Touch in Apple’s Magic Mouse is in development and expected soon.
Version 3.0.1 compatible with 10.4, 10.5, or 10.6
$20 (Shareware; Free 30 day trial)
Aside from mouse acceleration, SteerMouse offers a ton of other advanced features. Configure up to 16 buttons, modify scroll wheels/balls, and set the cursor to automatically move to a specific location on the screen when a window is activated. Support for the Apple Magic Mouse is pending.
Version 4.0.1 compatible with 10.4, 10.5, or 10.6
While MouseZoom does not alter the acceleration curve itself, it does let users bump tracking speeds beyond those available in System Preferences. An ideal solution? No, but it’s a free alternative that helps ease the pain.
Version 2.2 compatible with 10.1, 10.2, 10.4, 10.4, or 10.5
This Preference Pane is based on Richard Bentley’s MouseFix – a non-user-friendly command line utility. This version, however, makes it easy to increase mouse precision and speed up mouse movement with visual aids.
Version 1.0 compatible with 10.4 or 10.5
This is a brand new piece of software that just came to be within the past couple weeks. It’s in beta and still buggy, but it packs some nice features and is in active development. I can’t say for sure whether it customizes OS X’s acceleration curve or just supercharges the maximum tracking speed. The real reason to give it a shot, though, is if you have a Magic Mouse or MacBook that supports Multi-Touch gestures. BetterTouchTool lets users assign specific actions to advanced finger gestures and can simulate a middle-click. It can even bring the Mighty Mouse’s Exposé functionality to the Magic Mouse.
Compatible with 10.6