Programming a Kensington Trackball / Trackball vs. Mouse?
July 15, 2005 6:28 AM   Subscribe

I just bought a Wireless Kensington Expert Mouse, and I'm trying to convince myself I like it. Ergonomically, I think it's better for my hand and wrist in the long run, but there is one thing that's really bugging me: I can set keystrokes for any of the buttons, but it only sends the key to the computer when I release the button. I use a Mac, and I have the F9 key programmed in on the trackball for Expose, but this means I can't just hold it, move to the window I want, and release it like I'm able to do on my Logitech mx700. I have to click, move, and click again ("waa", I know). Any suggestions for making this work using Kensington's MouseWorks driver? Are there any third-party apps/drivers out there that could take care of this? Furthermore, does anyone have experience switching from a mouse to a trackball? Did you stay with the trackball, and what merits/flaws do you see in both devices?
posted by jruckman to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
You could try USB Overdrive, a driver system that has saved me loads of headaches many, many times over the years with many different mice/trackballs. I don't know how well it works (if at all) with that particular Kensington mouse, though.
posted by bcwinters at 7:11 AM on July 15, 2005

Regarding that weird mouse/Exposé problem, usb overdrive worked for my trackball and all of my button-assigning needs when I made the big switch over from a mouse. I went from some generic Microsoft model (which replaced my g4's hockey puck) to a Cordless Trackman Wheel back in 2001, and would still be using it today if I didn't recently buy a new Powerbook. It took me about a week to get used to maneuvering with that ball, but then I was hooked.
Maybe I'm just lazy, but I found it much easier/faster to push the trackball around with my thumb than to push a mouse up, down, and around a mousepad. (insert black-and-white infocommercial-like clip of me fumbling helplessly with a corded mouse. "tired of mouse-induced arthritis?")
posted by killjoy at 7:47 AM on July 15, 2005

Best answer: I can't live without my Expert Mouse Trackball - helps me manage my RMI (Repetitive Motion Injury). So much less tension in clicking and moving the cursor. I've used it for 8 1/2 years. I haven't seen anything else (for the MAC) that does click and hold for you. FYI, most of the time I also use McNib, the click-less mouse part of the Quill Mouse system - seems like they've changed their name, QUILLMOUSE
I don't use it all the time because for somethings i get messed up on drag-n-drop, and haven't taken the time to make it work. but i LOVE not clicking.

I have F13 set for Espose - I just use the key and then use the trackball to move the cursor to the window I want, and click. For my hand/arm, keyboard clicks are much less stressful than mouse button clicks. This isn't what you want, I know, but it's all I can suggest.
I urge you to stick with the trackball. and set a button to what I call 'click and hold', they call Drag.
posted by judybxxx at 9:05 AM on July 15, 2005

Best answer: I've been using a Kensington Expert Mouse for years and I find it to be superior to a mouse in all ways except for dragging and dropping... and the Kensington drivers' ability to define a drag button mitigates this drawback.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 10:22 AM on July 15, 2005

Best answer: Why don't you just assign the mouse button directly in the Expose panel instead of having it emulate a keyboard button press in the Kensington software? I don't have a multi-button mouse on the Mac I use, but I'm pretty sure you can get the action you want with that.

To answer your second question, I moved from a mouse to a Logitech TrackMan Marble FX a few years ago, and have since moved back to a mouse (Logitech MX900). Why? I started using mice with scroll wheels. The FX didn't have one and no other trackballs that had them really satisfied me. If someone made a trackball with the exact same design as the FX and a scroll wheel, I'd be back on the trackball bandwagon in an instant.
posted by zsazsa at 10:24 AM on July 15, 2005

I use the USB version of the Expert Mouse (why 'mouse'?) and love it, but I also keep a regular two-button-with-scrollwheel USB mouse plugged in at the same time. The Expert sits to the right of my keyboard, with the normal mouse on the left; that way I get the best of both worlds. This is on a PC, but I'd guess an Apple would also handle two mice.

I found the Kensington Mouseworks driver interfered with using two devices, so stopped using it.
posted by anadem at 11:44 AM on July 15, 2005

Response by poster: zsazsa: Of course! Although, Exposé would only work if I assigned it to the "secondary mouse button", so I had to set the button I wanted for Exposé in MouseWorks as right-click, set Exposé to secondary, then set the button i wanted as a REAL right click to Ctrl+Click. The only other thing I don't like about the Kensington now is how its tilted forward, putting what I think to be unneccesary strain on my wrist. I'm thinking of making a small platform for it, that's slanted away from my wrist, and tilted a bit to the right. In the meantime, I'll keep my mx700 docked behind my screen, just in case I need a life preserver. Thanks all...
posted by jruckman at 12:35 PM on July 15, 2005

I have a Kensington Expert Mouse at home and at work, that's how much I like them. My biggest complaint about mice is having to pick it up to re-center it all the time.

If you find yourself missing the scroll wheel on your trackball, assign one of the buttons (top-right works best for me) to "scroll with mouse." Click once, spin the trackball up and down to scroll, click again to stop scrolling. I find that much more intuitive than the scroll wheel on most mice, but, of course, YMMV.
posted by Sibrax at 12:48 PM on July 15, 2005

Response by poster: sibrax: the kensington i just got has a scroll wheel around the ball, which is like iPod meets normal mouse meets infinite badassery

judybxxx & Zed_Lopez: thanks for the Drag tip, I was skeptical and hadn't tried it until mentioned here
posted by jruckman at 12:57 PM on July 15, 2005

Response by poster: sibrax: oh, maybe thats what you meant ...
posted by jruckman at 12:58 PM on July 15, 2005

I just tried using a Kensington Optical Elite (without Kensington's Mouseworks software!) and it was able to do what you specified (click & hold, select window, release) by picking a mouse button (all of them worked) in the Expose panel. Perhaps the Mouseworks software is hiding some of the functionality of the trackball and is keeping you from just using "Mouse Button 4" or whatever. I've found that vendor-specific mouse software is usually not worth it (both Kensington and Logitech).
posted by zsazsa at 2:41 PM on July 15, 2005

I've been using some form of Kensington Turbo/Expert Mouse (trackball) with my Macs for a very long time, at least 12 years. The original ADB TurboMouse got retired because ADB was no longer exist, not because it broke.

Once you get used to it, regular mice and other trackballs will simply seem like well-intentioned mistakes.

I got my mom the kind with the little spinning ball-girdling scrollwheel. Very badass, and she likes it a lot.

Sorry I can't help with your particular issue.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:50 PM on July 15, 2005

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