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Troubleshooting a Jumping Mouse

written by: Ryan C.•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 8/24/2009

Do you have a mouse that keeps jumping around your screen? In this article we go over some simple things to check for to restore your mouse to a working condition.

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    Introduction

    Today, we will troubleshoot your jumping mouse. If you have a mouse that keeps jumping around your computer, you might want to get some mousetraps and cheese as bait. If your cursor is doing the jumping, then you’ve also come to the right place! The cause to your jumpy cursor could either be a hardware or software issue. If it is an older mouse that starts to act up, it is likely time that the mouse needs to be cleaned or replaced all together.

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    Optical and Laser Mice

    The most widely used type of mouse today are optical and laser mice. They have since replaced the old ball mice of yesterday for their superior sensitivity, tracking, and non-mechanical design (no moving parts inside to break). Because they use light or infrared to track motion on a surface, they can be a bit picky on what surfaces they will perform best on. These mice cannot track on glass or reflective/mirrored surfaces because they emit light. They work best on surfaces with a uniform repeating texture like a solid color cloth mousepad or a solid color table top. If you are using a mouse pad that has a picture or design on it, the mouse may be confused over certain parts of the image when it cannot get enough contrast to discern accurate movement. The most likely and easiest solution is to switch surfaces to see if the mouse becomes smooth again.

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    Wireless Mice

    Wireless mice are great but if you have one, the problem could be threefold. Causes include the issue described above, interference from too many obstructions from the mouse to the receiver or another nearby wireless signal, or a low battery. Interfering signals come from cordless phones (especially those operating at the 2.4Ghz wireless frequency), other wireless mice and keyboards, cell phones, or a wireless router (wifi connection). When the mouse and receiver are not able to detect each other consistently your mouse will only send signals intermittently causing your mouse to behave erratically and skip around the screen. The solution is to minimize other wireless devices and to move the USB receiver as close to the mouse as possible for the best signal. To troubleshoot a low battery, you should replace the batteries with a fresh set or charge your mouse if it has a base.

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    Corded Ball Mice

    If you have an older corded ball mouse, your problems are likely caused by a dirty ball and it needs to be cleaned. Check out our guide here. Once dust and other debris are removed, it should be smooth as new!

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    Drivers

    Most mice (especially those by Logitech or Microsoft) are plug and play via USB or PS/2. Often times, you need to install special drivers that came with the mouse to enable special functions. Other times, you need to install drivers regardless for the mouse to function properly. Consult the documentation that came with the mouse for more information. It is also a good idea to keep your drivers up to date for optimal performance, battery life, and usability.

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    If All Else Fails

    If the mouse’s cursor is still jumping around your screen and you have tried it on another computer, it’s time to get a new mouse. If it is less than 3 – 5 years (and presumably made by Logitech or Microsoft), it may be still covered under warranty and can be replaced for free. To request a replacement, contact Logitech or Microsoft’s hardware support department and they can further assist you.

    I hope this little article was helpful for you either catching that jumping mouse or stopping your cursor from jumping around your screen.