The Sad State of Mousing on macOS

This post was originally written in June 2021 for Hemispheric News; subscribe at the Patreon site One Prime Plus to receive this monthly newsletter and other benefits that are linked to the Hemispheric Views podcast.

On 28 May, I posted to my micro.blog:

My kingdom for a good mouse that works with macOS. Logitech MX Master 3 - garbage drivers cause lag all over the place. Razer Viper Ultimate - doesn’t work with macOS. Apple Magic Mouse - ergonomic hell. Why is this so hard?

Despite Apple sales being higher than ever third party vendors aren’t willing to come to the party to develop decent macOS drivers for their products. So a person can spend a lot of money on new hardware but still struggle to aim a pointer with precision.

Less than a year ago I bought a Logitech MX Master 3. It is promoted as the most ergonomic, fully-featured non-gaming mouse on the market. From a hardware standpoint it is beautiful. Contoured edges, metallic construction and magnetic resistance make it move beautifully. Until you have to use the Logitech Options software on a Mac. I have tried the Bluetooth connection, I have tried the RF dongle. It doesn’t matter. Either option results in random pointer stutters, entire pauses for seconds and other random tomfoolery. It undermines everything that is good about the mouse.

It all got too much for me recently so after speaking to my money spending enabler, Jason Burk, I purchased a Razer Viper Ultimate gaming mouse with docking station. Being a gaming mouse it has multi-coloured LEDs and high frequency tracking, so surely it will be good.

The hardware is good. The software? Not so much as dire, but rather non-existent. Razer do not make a version of the software for macOS. So all the goodness is wasted unless you’re on a PC. That being said, I booted into Windows via Boot Camp and the Windows software is a terrible mess as well. It was hundreds of megabytes in size with a UX that made no sense.

I had packed the mouse back into its box and was ready to return it, when a final search and another discussion with Jason led me down a macOS software rabbit-hole. It turns out there is an open-source community that develops drivers and software for the Razer on mac.

This led me to discover the FruityRazer project and Razer macOS - software drivers to control not just the mouse performance but most importantly, the LEDs!

There are also two shareware software options, USB Overdrive and SteerMouse. To be honest, I haven’t figured out the best combination of all these software options yet.

What I do know, however, is that now the Razer mouse is rock solid. I have a feeling that if I trade out Logi Options for USB Overdrive or SteerMouse that the MX Master 3 will probably be stable as well.

What does this say about the ability or willingness or large corporations to develop decent macOS software? It says they are terrible. What does it say about Apple not being able to develop a good hardware mouse that doesn’t deliver immediate RSI? It says that they are terrible.

In all instances, the end-user - us, lose out.

How’s that for customer sat, Tim?

Tim Cook, CEO Apple Inc.

Andrew Canion @canion