Apple mouse not working? 9 ways to solve

Apple sells two pointing devices: the Apple Magic Mouse and the Magic Trackpad. There are two generations of Magic Mouse, easily identified by the fact that the Magic Mouse 1 uses a removable battery and the Magic Mouse 2 has an internal battery that cannot be removed. Well, at least not if you want a working mouse.

Although these mice are generally quite foolproof to use, they can present with irritating problems from time to time. If your Apple mouse isn’t working, here are some potential solutions.

Identify the problem

Before you start looking for solutions, define the problem first! An Apple mouse that “doesn’t work” can mean a few different things:

  • The mouse is dead and won’t turn on.
  • The mouse turns on, but does not connect.
  • The mouse connects, but the cursor is jagged.
  • The mouse works for a while, but then disconnects for a few seconds.

Each of these examples is quite different and usually has different causes, so keep your specific problem in mind when reading the potential solutions.

Eliminate the most likely suspects

The next most important step in repairing your Apple mouse is to eliminate your Mac or mouse as the source of the problem. The easiest way to do this is to try the mouse with another Mac or iOS device and see if it behaves normally. If it works fine with a different computer, you can be pretty sure it’s a problem with the computer.

Drawing of a detective with a magnifying glass looking at a laptop

You can also try a different mouse (Apple branded or not) with your Mac. There is always the possibility that the problem is the result of something strange between that specific Mac and the Apple mouse, but the chances of this are small. , so this is a sensible diagnostic step that should save you time for troubleshooting. With basic diagnostics out of the way, let’s look at the most common problems and solutions.

1. Double check your mouse and trackpad settings

Before you start messing with the hardware and running around looking for problems, double-check that your mouse and trackpad settings are correct. For example, are they set up to be too sensitive or not sensitive enough?

Trackpad and mouse in System Preferences

You can find the settings for both below Apple menu > System Preferences.

2. Is it charged, turned on and the batteries inserted?

Does your Apple Mouse have a charged battery? With the Magic Mouse you will need to use a new set of disposable batteries or use rechargeable batteries that are charged in a standalone charger.

This is usually only a problem if you haven’t used the mouse in a long time, as macOS will notify you when the battery level is running low. Another known issue with the first generation Magic Mouse has to do with the battery compartment. Many batteries are not held in place properly. So when you perform the typical lifting and swapping motion with the mouse, it can cause a momentary disconnection of the battery.

A row of AA batteries

This is obviously incredibly annoying and there are various solutions on the net. In our search for the best, it seems like using oversized batteries might be a good solution. Other Apple Mouse users in your country will likely have a preferred brand of batteries for this purpose.

The other solution is to use a piece of tinfoil folded several times to create a makeshift thickness. Although people seem to be successful with this method, it has a greater risk of shorting the batteries. As such, you do so at your own risk if you choose to give it a try.

3. Magic Mouse 2 does not seem to charge

The Magic Mouse 2 does away with disposable batteries, which is good. However, we have received reports that the device suddenly refuses to charge.

If you know that the charger and Lightning cable are working properly, for example by testing them on another device, you may want to check the charging port. Just like with USB-C, the Lightning port design allows for the gradual buildup of dust and other debris.

Illustration of a tiny person sucking in a lightning cable

Every time you plug in the charging cable, you put a little more junk in there. The solution is to use a thin object to collect the crud. A thin wooden or plastic toothpick will do the trick.

Be gentle as you try to remove anything that prevents the Lightning cable from making contact. If you’re not comfortable doing this, a local IT technician should be happy to help. It’s even less expensive than buying a completely new mouse!

4. Turn the mouse off and on again

While it’s not always clear why an Apple mouse isn’t working, the simple mouse power cycle seems to solve this problem more often than not. Both Apple Magic mice can occasionally have this strange problem which is solved by simply turning it off and on again.

5. Turn Bluetooth off and on again

This is another simple but often effective solution. Just turn Bluetooth off and on again on your Mac or iOS device and reconnect the Apple mouse.

6. Is the mouse paired with something else?

Illustration of a mouse already paired with an iPad

If you can’t see your Apple mouse in the Bluetooth device list, it’s possible it was paired with another device nearby too, which grabbed it before your Mac had a chance. Make sure no other devices, such as an iPad or other Mac, are currently connected to the mouse. Then try again.

7. Check for signal interference

Apple mice use Bluetooth technology, which operates on the same wireless frequency as Wi-Fi. While most of the time Bluetooth does a good job of ignoring all other airspace-occupying airwaves, there is a limit.

Drawing of a signal from a radio tower

If you have a lot of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth devices running in the same area as your mouse, try disabling some of this potential interference to see if things improve.

8. Check the sensor window and desktop surface

This is probably one of the most common things we’ve heard from users. Check the optical sensor window of the mouse for dirt and other debris. One of the main culprits is human or animal hair. Search carefully for curled hair and carefully pull it out with tweezers. Long hairs can be so fine that you don’t see them immediately, but they continue to ruin the mouse sensor.

A MacBook on a glass table

Also pay attention to the surface you are using the mouse on. Glossy or glass surfaces can be a real challenge, so try your mouse on a different surface before assuming something is wrong.

9. Tips for trackpad users

Most of the tips above apply to the Magic Trackpads and the Apple Magic Mouse, but there are a few things that are specific to the trackpad.

The main cause of a trackpad not tracking properly has to do with the functioning of the device. Just like with an iPhone or iPad, the Magic Trackpad uses conductivity changes as your finger touches its surface to track the pointer’s movement. Anything that messes up that conductivity can also make tracking erratic.

Make sure the trackpad surface is dry and clean. Remove any jewelry that could be grounding you. Unplug third-party power supplies from the trackpad or Mac if you’re using it connected to the computer itself.

This should cover the most likely reasons why your Apple mouse isn’t working. Don’t forget that (if your mouse is still under warranty) you can also get help from Apple itself.

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