Computer mouse – old buddy with new talents

I wouldn’t normally expect much more from a computer mouse than right click, left click, double click, scroll. But I was taught better recently. Among the slightly younger generation (i.e., my kids), rather bulky and gaming-type models seem to be in vogue lately also for office (ie.,school) work. Not exactly made for traveling in your hand luggage, but when I first laid my hands on one, I knew I had to get one, too. Not only was the scroll and click experience fantastic, but there was something else I was absolutely intrigued about: programmable buttons.

So, after some internet research, I ordered a Logitech MX Master 3S mouse. (This is not a sponsored post! There are other interesting options which you can find here: Comparison of different office mice by Techradar). These are the things I love about my new office, RSI and booth companion (yes, it does travel with me!).

  1. Silent buttons! Clicky buttons may be a funny back-to-the-eighties feature but are of no use for simultaneous interpreting. Luckily there are people like Julie Strietelmeier who help you tell the difference – thank you very much!
  2. The scrolling wheel is just wonderful. You can scroll super-fast through a 100 pager, you can adjust the scrolling speed, and choose between super-fast “free spin” scrolling and “ratchet” line-by-line scrolling.
  3. You can pair this mouse with up to three devices (Windows, mac, Chrome, Linux, iPad, Android) and change between them without having to press any buttons. You can even copy and paste documents back and forth between the different devices.
  4. The horizontal scrolling wheel can, among many other options, be reprogrammed to adjust the speaker volume, zoom in and out, or jump between sheets or windows/apps.
  5. The best bit: all those programmable buttons with their zillions of options. You can even give the buttons different functions for different programs.

Overall, I tried not to program the buttons differently in different apps, I simply found this too confusing. After some playing around, here is my – currently – favourite configuration:

The middle button: I have finally chosen this one to mute and unmute my microphone in Zoom and MS Teams, and just told it to “do nothing” in all other apps. Unfortunately, there is no possibility to use one button for activating and deactivating the microphone by default in all apps. This particular – of all! – functions can only be assigned in the videoconference-specific settings for Zoom, MS Teams etc. The nice thing about this middle button is that I am not afraid of accidentally hitting it, so I don’t have to worry about turning on my microphone without noticing when in a meeting. To me, switching on and off my mic like this feels even more intuitive than using a proper booth console.

The back and next buttons (located right under the horizontal scroll wheel): I made them increase and decrease the speaker sound volume, no matter which program I am in.

The thumb button: By default, this button is programmed is to switch between different desktops. I found this thumb button not very easy to press, so for the moment I left it at that. I also  couldn’t decide which of the other functions to assign to it, as there are so many to choose from: (emoji menu, dictation, maximise/minimise window, mute speaker, new browser tab, open calculator, copy, paste, redo, undo, dictation, any keyboard shortcut, screen capture, switch application etc.)

The push-down scroll wheel: I am using this to switch between scrolling modes. This is what the middle button was supposed to do according to the default settings, which I preferred to turn into my mic button.

I hadn’t noticed this before, but most, if not all keyboard shortcuts I use can be pressed with my left hand only (CTRL+A/S/C/VZ), so I did not program any of the mouse buttons to do things I can use shortcuts for (a pity there is no left-handed version of this mouse, though). So, from now on, my left, “shortcuts hand” and my right “mouse hand” can work in perfect harmony.


About the author

Anja Rütten is a freelance conference interpreter for German (A), Spanish (B), English (C), and French (C) based in Düsseldorf, Germany. She has specialised in knowledge management since the mid-1990s.


5 responses to “Computer mouse – old buddy with new talents”

  1. Uwe Scholz avatar
    Uwe Scholz

    Liebe Frau Rütten,
    danke für die Gedanken zu Computermäusen.

    Beim Thema *Tastatur* habe ich mich nach langer Suche und einigem Experimentieren für dieses Modell als meinen aktuellen Favoriten im (Übersetzer-)Alltag entschieden:
    iClever IC-DK03, HD192

    Auch nach einigen Monaten Einsatz bin ich noch zufrieden.

    Am wichtigsten sind für mich Sicherheit, Spürbarkeit, Kürze und Stille des Anschlags.

    Sehr hilfreich ist natürlich auch die Bluetooth-Option, denn bei modernen leichten Laptops sind USB-Anschlüsse für Mini-Empfänger 2,4 GHz ja leider sehr knapp gehalten, beim iPad fehlen sie ganz.

    100 % still ist die Tastatur nicht. Ich denke, dass es physikalisch auch kaum möglich ist, mit kräftigem Impuls und sicherem Anschlag zu tippen, ohne dass es irgendeine Form von Geräusch gibt. Bei diesem Modell ist aber sicherlich ein sehr guter Kompromiss gefunden worden.

    Viele Grüße

    Uwe Scholz

    1. Anja Rütten avatar

      Vielen Dank für die nützliche Rückmeldung und tollen Tipps! 100 % lautlose Tastaturen gibt es bei mir leider auch nicht, weil ich dazu neige, auf die Tasten zu hämmern. Deshalb tippe in der Dolmetschkabine auch hin und wieder über die Touchscreen-Tastatur, auch wenn ich das unkomfortabel finde …

  2. Maria Wolf avatar

    Sehr interessant und hilfreich! Danke Dir, Anja!
    Viele Grüße

  3. Aude-Valérie Monfort avatar

    Dear Anja,
    Many thanks for this interesting and useful article about a multitalented mouse.
    Before one chooses a mouse with a new design, one should consider first which type of grip one has (palm, claw or fingertip) because it will determine whether the new mouse will offer the appropriate ergonomics (hand position, wrist movement, finger/thumb length). Here is an article a description of the various grips:

    1. Anja Rütten avatar

      Thank you, Aude-Valérie!

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