Logitech MX Ergo Plus Wireless Mouse. Logitech mx ergo mac

Logitech MX Ergo Plus Wireless Mouse

Advanced trackball for trackball enthusiasts and consumers searching for alternatives to mice and touchpads. Features a unique adjustable hinge for personalized comfort and modern tracking, scrolling and power management technology.

  • logitech, ergo, wireless, mouse

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Advanced trackball for trackball enthusiasts and consumers searching for alternatives to mice and touchpads. Features a unique adjustable hinge for personalized comfort and modern tracking, scrolling and power management technology.

Tech Specs

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Logitech MX Ergo Review: A Worthy Heir to Logitech’s Lengthy Trackball Mouse Lineage

    Jason Fitzpatrick

logitech, ergo, wireless, mouse

After years of no new trackball developments, Logitech has finally released a new wireless trackball mouse. We took it for an extended spin and now we’re back to highlight what’s new and awesome (and point out a minor few issues along the way).

If you’re a trackball aficionado, this will all be old news to you, but for folks unfamiliar with the niche but beloved mouse market, the release of the Logitech MX Ergo is a big deal. Logitech has been producing trackball mice for decades—I’ll admit to owning, and loving, practically every model they’ve made since the early 1990s—but recently there was a bit of stagnation in their release cycle.

They haven’t released a totally new wired trackball mouse since 2002 (when they released the updated TrackMan Wheel and TrackMan Marble models) and the last wireless trackball mouse they released was the M570 in 2010. The MX Ergo, in light of that, has pretty big boots to fill both in terms of improved features and consumer expectation.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the MX Ergo offers and if the premium 99 price tag is justified.

The Hardware: Ergonomics, Precision, and Well Placed Buttons

When compared to the trackballs of yesteryear, the MX Ergo has a really nice understated design with a grey-on-grey-on-grey color scheme. The design of the body echos the general design the TrackMan Wheel and its descents have maintained—left to right below you can see the TrackMan Wheel Optical, the M570, and the MX Ergo—but it’s a bit wider looking and a little stouter from the base to the main buttons.

logitech, ergo, wireless, mouse

The wider footprint definitely translates into a more comfortable grip. While my hand wasn’t necessarily uncomfortable on the older models the finger spacing (especially for the ring finger and pinky) feels much better on the MX Ergo.

While we’re talking about similarities and differences between the different mice, one thing that stood out strongly is how snug the trackball is within the body of the Ergo. It’s exactly the same size as the trackball in the M570, but the tolerance between the cavity the ball sits in and the ball is much tighter. Not only does this give the Ergo a higher quality feeling but it should hopefully, over time, translate to less gunk getting in the cavity and less cleaning.

Tilt It for Comfort

Speaking of your hold on the mouse, one of the most significant new design elements in the Ergo is the inclusion of a weighted and tilt-adjustable base. You can use the Ergo in a flat 0 degree orientation or you can tilt the mouse (by firmly pressing down on the right hand side of it) up to 20 degrees for a more neutral hand and forearm position—in the image below the Ergo is tilted the full amount. Once you use the Ergo in the tilted position, we’re confident you’ll never put it flat again.

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There’s even a version of the mouse (only available directly from Logitech or through Best Buy) called the MX Ergo Plus that includes an additional wedge to place under the base plate for an even steeper angle. The wedge adds another 10 degrees of tilt and some people, especially those seeking relief from arthritis or repetitive stress injuries do report the extra wedge is beneficial.

This ergonomically enhanced position is particularly well suited for a trackball mouse as, unlike traditional mice, changing the angle of the trackball doesn’t change how you use it. Vertically-oriented ergonomic mice that retain a traditional design for movement tracking require you to completely relearn how you use your mouse in a way that simply isn’t applicable to a trackball. When it’s flat you move the ball with your thumb and even if it were completely vertical you’d still move just the ball with your thumb.

Crank Up the Precision

The trackball is just as precise as veteran trackball users would expect and even includes a small button (located directly adjacent to the trackball) that you can click to engage a high-precision mode—this mode essentially decreases the ball-to-cursor movement at a hardware level so the movement of the ball is more controlled and refined over a smaller distance.

Let me tell you, as somebody who has been accused of cheating in video games because my trackball mouse is so stable and precise, the ability to press a button and crack up the precision to such a degree makes the premise of dusting off some old FPS games to do some minute-of-degree sniping pretty enticing.

Switch Between PCs with a Click

In addition to the standard interface elements like the left and right mouse buttons and the scroll wheel, there are three more buttons on the mouse. In the center of the mouse below the scroll wheel there is a small “Easy Switch” button that allows you to easily switch between two computers with ease.

logitech, ergo, wireless, mouse

The nice thing about the switching mechanism is that it’s hardware based and using just the included equipment you can easily configure your Ergo to connect to both your desktop and laptop computers. The Ergo supports both Bluetooth and Logitech’s USB-dongle-based “Unifying Receiver” (included with the mouse) so you can plug the USB dongle into your desktop PC and then use the Bluetooth to pair the mouse with your laptop. One click is all it takes to switch between the two computers.

The additional two buttons beside the right mouse button function as back and forward keys for web browsing, but can be customized via the optional control software.

The Software: Customization and Multi-Computer Integration

Speaking of software, while that hardware one-click solution we just mentioned is great when you’re tossing the Ergo in your laptop bag, you don’t even need to bother with the hardware button if you’re using the two computers at the same desk (and on the same network).

Courtesy of Logitech’s Options software (available for Windows and macOS) you can both customize your mouse settings (including configuring the two small auxiliary mouse buttons on a per-application basis) and seamlessly use your mouse across two different computers (including sending folders, files, and cutting and pasting).

This feature, the Logitech Flow system, is not a new introduction just for the MX Ergo, but was introduced with the general MX mouse and keyboard line. None the less, it’s the first time it has appeared on a trackball mouse and it’s pretty amazing. If you’ve spent years using workarounds for file and text transfer like emailing yourself files, copying them to flash drives, or sharing them to local network directories, you’ll find the ease of use with the Flow system to be incredibly liberating.

Setup is pretty straight forward for the Flow system, but if you need additional help be sure to check out the tutorial at our sister site How-To Geek.

The Minor Complaints (We Don’t Really Have)

It wouldn’t be a thorough review if we didn’t have at least a thing or two to complain about. The reality is, we really, really, like the MX Ergo and don’t have any significant complaints about it.

But, as part of our mission at Review Geek, however, we strive to see things through every shopper’s eyes and, with that in mind, we do have a few items to highlight.

First and foremost, the Ergo is on the heavy side. For people who stick close to their workstation, this isn’t a big issue and the extra weight gives it a nice hand feel and stability. For light packing workers on the move, though, it’s significantly heavier than the M570 (259 g versus 142 g). Do we think the extra weight is worth it? Yes. Does it pair perfectly with an ultrabook that only weighs 1,200 grams to begin with? We’d still pack it, but we’re serious trackball devotees.

Speaking of weight, part of the weight is the large lithium battery inside the device. Unlike the M570, which accepted off-the-shelf AA batteries, the Ergo required occasional wired charging—the charging port is visible below.

You charge the Ergo with a micro-USB cable which, while not problematic, does seem antiquated when most new premium products are using USB-C. This doesn’t bother us at all, but it does seem a little silly not to just switch to the newer standard to cut down on future cable clutter.

The lefties out there have likely already guessed: the mouse is sculpted for right hand use and there is no left hand model. (For left handed users who want a trackball experience, however, there’s always the ambidextrous-style Logitech Trackman Marble Mouse.)

Finally, related to power consumption, people switching from the M570 will need to get used to dealing with charging. The M570 was practically legendary for the length of time it could go without a battery swap (many people only popped a new AA battery in once a year). You can get months out of a charge with the Ergo if you remember to turn it off between uses. Further, Logitech claims that a single minute of charging is equal to a day of use—even if they’re off with the time estimate by 100% that’s still a really reasonable charge-to-use-ratio. Again, given the updated hardware and the demands placed on the device we don’t find the decreased battery life, compared to the M570, problematic but in the effort of absolute thoroughness we tested the battery life and took note.

All told, we truly have no complaints about the mouse and are pretty thrilled Logitech has kept their line of trackball mice alive. Once you adapt to life with a good trackball mouse nothing else will ever compare—and the MX Ergo is a fantastic trackball mouse.

Logitech MX ERGO Windows 11 Software Drivers Update

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Logitech MX ERGO Windows 11 Software Download Driver for Trackball Mouse. Support Windows 11, Mac 12 with Latest Firmware Update Tool and Logitech Options.

The Logitech MX ERGO is an advanced trackball that is designed for gamers and consumers who want less muscular strain while playing games and using a computer. The hinge allows you to easily adjust the angle of the mouse for more comfort, and it features a power management and tracking system to maximize your gaming experience. This new model also includes Logitech FLOW for effortless cross-computer control. Listed below are some of the best features of the Logitech MX ERGO.

The MX ERGO mouse is a wireless device, which means it is compatible with both PCs and Macs. A hardware one-click solution is provided, and the mouse can be used with two computers that are connected to the same network. The MX ERGO has Logitech Options software for both Windows and macOS that allows you to customize the mouse settings. Using this software, you can even send files across computers and cut and paste.

The Logitech MX ERGO is a high-performance computer mouse that is compatible with both Mac and Windows systems. Despite the high price tag, it offers a number of benefits that make it an excellent choice for most computer users. The mouse’s ergonomic design is comfortable, thanks to a large, customizable layout. It has a smooth trackball and dedicated buttons for back/forward. The MX ERGO supports multi-computer Flow, and even supports the Logitech multi-computer Flow features.

Downloads MX Ergo Wireless Trackball Driver for Windows

Hardware MX Ergo
Category Mouse
File Languages Multi-language
Last Update 2022-05-16
File Size 14 Mb
Version 3.0.258181
Operating System Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, Windows 11

Logitech MX ERGO Software Download for Windows

  • Firmware Update Tool 64 Bit [14 MB]DOWNLOAD
  • Firmware Update Tool 32 Bit [11 MB]DOWNLOAD
  • Logitech Options [227 MB]DOWNLOAD

MX Ergo Wireless Trackball Driver for Mac

Hardware MX Ergo
Category Mouse
File Languages Multi-language
Last Update 2022-05-31
version 9.60.116
Size 296 Mb
Operating System Mac OS 10.15, Mac OS 11, and Mac OS 12.0

Logitech MX ERGO Software Download for Mac

Logitech MX ERGO User Manual Download


Pair Logitech mouse to iPad using Bluetooth

  • Turn your mouse ON. The LED should start blinking fast. If it doesn’t, perform a long press on the Easy-Switch button on the mouse.
  • Open the iPad Settings and tap Bluetooth settings.
  • Choose your mouse in the list of Devices.

Device not displayed in Logitech Options

  • Make sure your device is turned on.
  • Make sure you’re using the latest version of Logitech Options. To check the version:
  • Open Logitech Options.
  • On the bottom left of the Logitech Options, click
  • In the settings window, click Software. The version of Logitech Options is listed under About.
  • ​If you’re not sure if you’re using the latest version, click Check For Update.

Unable to load extensions with Adobe Photoshop

If you’re getting the error “LogiOptions extension could not be loaded because it was not properly signed”, please remove the Adobe Photoshop plugin and then add it again.

The Best Trackballs

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We’ve added notes from CES to the What to look forward to section.

A trackball isn’t as accurate as a good-quality mouse, but it can be more precise than a trackpad for anyone looking to eliminate repetitive motion from mousing around too much. After spending more than 120 hours testing eight trackballs during weeks of work, we found that the best trackballs are the finger-operated Kensington Expert Mouse Wireless Trackball and the thumb-operated Logitech Ergo M575. We also have a budget pick—the Kensington Orbit Trackball Mouse with Scroll Ring—if you don’t mind sacrificing build quality and a couple of features for a more affordable trackball.

Finger-operated trackballs with center-mounted balls work for both right- and left-handed people and encourage better wrist posture, while thumb-operated trackballs are more similar to traditional mice and therefore easier to get the hang of. (For more information, see Should you switch to a trackball? below.)

Although trackballs can help some people with some symptoms of repetitive stress injury, they can’t help everyone—we recommend consulting a doctor first if you’re considering a trackball for that reason.

Why you should trust us

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Before joining Wirecutter, I spent six years at Lifehacker writing about technology. For this guide, I used each style of trackball for a week before assessing individual models. During this research, I laid hands on almost every available trackball.

To learn who might benefit from switching from a traditional mouse or trackpad to a trackball, we also spoke with Alan Hedge, the director of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory at Cornell University at the time of our interview, and one of the country’s foremost ergonomicists.

Best finger-operated trackball: Kensington Expert Mouse Wireless Trackball

logitech, ergo, wireless, mouse

The best finger-operated trackball

With a huge ball and four buttons, this is a near-perfect trackball held back by a gritty scroll ring.

Buying Options

At the time of publishing, the price was 84.

The Kensington Expert Mouse Wireless Trackball is the best finger-operated trackball because its large ball is responsive and smooth, the design is comfortable for both right- and left-handed people, and its four buttons are easy to customize with Kensington’s software. It connects via either a 2.4 GHz wireless dongle or Bluetooth, and the included AA batteries provide long battery life. It usually costs between 60 and 90, but the premium build quality, well-crafted ball, and number of buttons make it worth the price. If you don’t want wireless, consider the slightly cheaper but otherwise identical wired version of the Expert Mouse.

The Kensington Expert Mouse’s 55 mm ball (nearly the size of a pool ball) moves freely and smoothly. Compared with the smaller balls of the Kensington Orbit Trackball Mouse with Scroll Ring and the Logitech Ergo M575, the large Expert Mouse ball makes it easier to move your cursor across a high-resolution display or across multiple monitors. To remove the ball, just pull it out or flip the Expert Mouse over. Dead-skin gunk accumulates underneath the ball, as it does with every trackball, so we recommend doing this every couple of weeks.

The Expert Mouse’s four large buttons offer a crisp click that doesn’t feel mushy or hollow, unlike the buttons on our budget pick, the Kensington Orbit with Scroll Ring. By default, the Expert Mouse’s two bottom buttons are left- and right-click, while the two top buttons are middle-click and back.

logitech, ergo, wireless, mouse

The finger-operated Expert Mouse doesn’t force your hand into one position like a thumb-operated trackball does, so you can use your palm or whichever fingers you’d like to control the ball. The ball’s size and location allow for broad arm movements, which are surprisingly fun to do and helpful for ergonomics if you have trouble bending your wrist. The ambidextrous design works for both right- and left-handed people.

The Expert Mouse’s slope, with the back higher than the front, can make it difficult to operate ergonomically. To correct for this, the Expert Mouse comes with a detachable leatherette-covered wrist rest to prop the hand in a neutral position. This accessory makes the Expert Mouse over 9 inches deep, so it might be too big for some work spaces. It’s also quite heavy, weighing 396 g without the wrist rest; it stays put on a desk but is a poor choice for portable use.

logitech, ergo, wireless, mouse

logitech, ergo, wireless, mouse

KensingtonWorks offers several options to control cursor behavior, including acceleration, which is useful on high-resolution displays.

logitech, ergo, wireless, mouse

The accompanying KensingtonWorks software allows you to customize button behavior, scroll speed, and pointer speed, as well as to set shortcuts for pushing two buttons at the same time. You can also set up a keystroke to initiate a precision mode that slows down the cursor, and you can customize button behavior per application. The pointer-acceleration slider is useful if you have multiple monitors, and it’s a feature that Logitech’s Options software lacks. Otherwise, the Kensington software has the same basic features as Logitech Options and is equally easy to use.

We didn’t have the time to test battery life, but Kensington told us you can get around six to eight months of use out of two AA batteries with Bluetooth, or up to a year if you’re using the USB dongle. (In contrast, the Logitech Ergo M575 is the best of the bunch we tested, with up to 24 months of life on a single AA battery.) The Expert Mouse has a power switch on the bottom but can also trigger a sleep mode automatically after inactivity to save battery life. We didn’t have any connection issues with the Expert Mouse via the dongle or Bluetooth.

The Expert Mouse is expensive, but its build quality and its four programmable buttons make it worth the price over the Kensington Orbit with Scroll Wheel, which has only two buttons and is available exclusively as a wired model.

Kensington offers a three-year warranty for the Expert Mouse, in contrast to the one-year limited warranty Logitech provides for the Ergo M575. That said, we’ve found that most issues arise in the first year, so although it’s useful to know that you can contact Kensington about any complaints three years after purchase, most people probably won’t need to.

Budget finger-operated trackball: Kensington Orbit Trackball Mouse with Scroll Ring

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A cheaper finger-operated trackball

If you’re not sure whether you like trackballs, the Orbit, with a scroll ring and two buttons, represents a good starting point.

Buying Options

At the time of publishing, the price was 35.

The Kensington Orbit Trackball Mouse with Scroll Ring typically costs a little over a third as much as Kensington’s Expert Mouse but has a smaller ball and offers just two buttons instead of four. It uses only a wired connection, not wireless, so you don’t have to worry about battery-life problems or connection issues. It’s flatter than the Expert Mouse, which can be more comfortable, and the scroll ring moves more slowly. If you have never used a trackball before and are unsure about them, the Orbit with Scroll Ring is a good model to start with because it’s affordable and easy to use.

At 40 mm, the ball is smaller than that of the Expert Mouse (55 mm) but bigger than the one in the Logitech Ergo M575 (34 mm). As a result, you can use it on multiple-monitor setups, but you may have to bump up the sensitivity more than on the Expert Mouse. In our tests, the Orbit with Scroll Ring wasn’t as fun to use as the Expert Mouse because it didn’t facilitate similarly broad arm movements, and the smaller ball was a bit less precise. You can clean this model the same way as the Expert Mouse—just pop the ball out and wipe any gunk inside.

logitech, ergo, wireless, mouse

In our tests, the left- and right-click buttons felt hollow and cheap—like those on a freebie mouse included with a computer—in contrast to the Expert Mouse’s sturdy, crisp buttons. Although the scroll ring is chintzy plastic, it felt much smoother to scroll than the gritty wheel of the Expert Mouse. The soft plastic exterior felt hollow; at a weight of 144 g, the Orbit with Scroll Ring lacks the Expert Mouse’s heft, but it stays put on a desk.

The Orbit with Scroll Ring is comfortable to use right- or left-handed, and the two buttons on either side of the trackball are easy to reach. Because it lacks the Expert Mouse’s steep slope, it sits flatter on a desk. Kensington includes a detachable wrist rest, but that piece is thinner than the wrist rest for the Expert Mouse and isn’t as useful given this device’s flatter profile.

The Orbit with Scroll Ring comes with a five-year limited warranty. It uses the same KensingtonWorks software as the Expert Mouse.

Best thumb-operated trackball: Logitech Ergo M575

logitech, ergo, wireless, mouse

The best thumb-operated trackball

Comfortable to use and easy to get the hang of, the Ergo M575 is a good choice for new trackball converts. Plus, it includes Bluetooth and USB wireless support.

Buying Options

At the time of publishing, the price was 50.

If you prefer a thumb-operated trackball, we recommend the Logitech Ergo M575. The ball is smooth and easy to use, and the button layout makes it easier to transition from mouse to trackball than the design of the Kensington Expert Mouse does. Logitech’s Options software has most of the settings you need to customize the Ergo M575 and three of its five buttons. Logitech claims the AA battery will last up to 24 months, and the Ergo M575 can connect wirelessly via Bluetooth or a USB dongle.

The 34 mm ball in the Ergo M575 is smaller than those of both the Expert Mouse and the Orbit with Scroll Ring. With this smaller ball you need to put in more effort to move the cursor across the screen: Using the Kensington Expert Mouse, you can move a cursor across a 4K monitor with a small swipe, but on the Ergo M575 it takes a couple of turns of the ball, even if you have the pointer speed set to maximum. To remove the ball, you need to shove a thin stick (such as a pen) through a hole underneath the device. As with the Expert Mouse, you should do this every couple of weeks to clear out dead-skin bits and other gunk.

The Ergo M575 has five buttons, three of which are programmable, as well as one non-programmable button on the bottom to switch between connecting with Bluetooth or the USB dongle. Its gummy scroll wheel can’t tilt, but the click is responsive and quiet. Like every other trackball we tested, the Ergo M575 lacks fast scrolling.

Made of molded hard plastic with a section on the bottom right molded to fit a pinky, the Ergo M575 is comfortable to hold, and in my tests all the buttons were easy to reach. At a weight of 158 g, the Ergo M575 is heavy enough not to slide around on a desk during use. It’s available in either black or white. We’re worried about how the rubber on the scroll wheel will wear over time, particularly on the white model, which could easily look gross after a year without proper cleaning.

logitech, ergo, wireless, mouse

The settings for the Ergo M575 in the Logitech Options software aren’t very advanced, but they get the job done.

logitech, ergo, wireless, mouse

It would be nice, though, if the software at least had some more common features, such as a setting to increase the scroll speed.

The settings for the Ergo M575 in the Logitech Options software aren’t very advanced, but they get the job done.

The Ergo M575 supports the easy-to-use Logitech Options software for Windows and macOS. You can reprogram three of the Ergo M575’s buttons and set them to behave differently based on the application you’re using. Logitech Options lacks the pointer-acceleration slider that KensingtonWorks includes, a feature that’s especially useful for trackballs on multiple-monitor setups; instead, you have to set up acceleration for the Ergo M575 in the operating system’s settings. In addition, the software doesn’t offer a way to increase the speed of the scroll wheel on the M575, which is an odd exclusion considering that it’s an option on most Logitech mice, as well as on Logitech’s own MX Ergo trackball.

Logitech claims the Ergo M575’s single AA battery will last up to 24 months with the USB dongle (or up to 20 months when the trackball is connected via Bluetooth)—about twice as long as Kensington’s estimated battery life for the Expert Mouse.

You can connect the Ergo M575 to two devices simultaneously via Bluetooth or a Logitech Unifying dongle; using a button on the bottom of the Ergo M575, you can swap between the computers. We didn’t run into any connection issues, and when I pressed the button, the Ergo M575 swapped quickly between a MacBook and a Windows computer. However, the Ergo M575 doesn’t support Logitech Flow, a feature that lets you move the cursor between multiple computers.

Typically priced around 50, the Ergo M575 is usually half the price of Kensington’s Expert Mouse and its closest thumb-controlled premium alternative, Logitech’s MX Ergo. The MX Ergo is a great but expensive model that has a few more buttons and supports Logitech Flow.

Logitech backs the Ergo M575 with a one-year limited warranty—shorter coverage than Kensington’s three-year warranty for the Expert Mouse and five-year warranty for the Orbit with Scroll Ring—but we’ve found that most of the defects the warranty covers usually appear within the first year. The most common issue we’ve seen reported in both Reddit threads and Amazon reviews is the same issue we’ve run across with mice: double-click failure. This problem is typically covered by the warranty, so if you encounter it, contact Logitech for a replacement.

Long-term test notes

One Wirecutter editor, who has owned three Kensington Expert Mouse trackballs over the past decade, notes that the wireless one she bought a year ago has a much smoother scroll ring than previous, wired versions did. Though the battery life has been unremarkable—and slightly better when the trackball is using rechargeables—the Bluetooth tends to cut out for a few seconds every other week or so.

Another staffer (and trackball devotee) has been using our budget finger-operated pick, the Kensington Orbit Trackball Mouse with Scroll Ring, comfortably and without problems, even when gaming.

We’ve experienced and heard complaints about problems with both the Kensington and Logitech software, particularly on Macs. We’ve run into quirks such as Kensington trackballs recognizing only one mouse click at a time. In Logitech Options, using any button for Mission Control for Mac didn’t work about 10% of the time during our testing. To fix the issue, instead of using the built-in Mission Control option in Logitech Options, we had to select a keystroke through System Preferences (F12 in our case) and then bind the button to that function in Logitech Options.

For Mac, we’ve found the 20 SteerMouse to be a much more robust and reliable utility than either manufacturer’s software, but it is an expensive addition. The software does offer a 30-day trial, so it’s worth testing to see if it addresses any issues you’ve had with either trackball maker’s software.

Should you switch to a trackball?

In a survey published by trackball maker Kensington, respondents listed their top three reasons for switching to a trackball: speed and accuracy, ergonomics, and a lack of mouse space.

Trackballs can be useful for people with a repetitive strain injury in their shoulder or wrist because using one of these devices requires different muscles than using a mouse. Ergonomicist Alan Hedge pointed out to us that a trackball is most useful if it helps you keep your hand in the correct position: “The key to safely using either a trackball (or a mouse) is to operate the device with the hand in a neutral posture (this means the hand is straight and level, not bent up, down, left or right, or twisted).” This neutral position is easier to maintain with a trackball because unlike a mouse, a trackball doesn’t move. Hedge continued, “Rather than extending the hand upwards to allow the fingers to move the ball, it is better to use flat fingers or the palm of the hand to rotate the ball.”

Because finger-operated trackballs are symmetrical and controlled with the fingers, they’re comfortable for right- or left-handed people. Photo: Rozette Rago

Thumb-operated trackballs are usually right-handed only, but other than the trackball itself, they work just like traditional mice. Photo: Rozette Rago

Because finger-operated trackballs are symmetrical and controlled with the fingers, they’re comfortable for right- or left-handed people. Photo: Rozette Rago

Trackballs come in two variations: finger-operated and thumb-operated. Finger-operated trackballs place the ball in the center, so you can use them right- or left-handed. And they often have a larger ball, which makes it easier to fling the cursor across a larger space, such as on a 4K monitor or across multiple monitors. Thumb-operated models look more like traditional mice but typically have a trackball on the left side, so they’re comfortable only for people who mouse right-handed (which is almost everyone). Since thumb-operated trackballs look and feel more like a traditional mouse, with a scroll wheel set between two top buttons, they’re easier to get the hang of. But their smaller ball requires more effort to move the cursor across the screen, so they’re better suited for use on single monitors or low-resolution displays.

Since trackballs often have four (or more) buttons, they’re easier to customize than trackpads, which rely on gestures for basic actions.

Thumb-operated trackballs don’t work for everyone. “Overuse of the thumb can result in de Quervain’s tenosynovitis, where extending the thumb becomes a painful movement,” Hedge told us. “A finger-operated trackball allows for the finger to be flat and for it to slide back and forth over the ball to move the ball, which will reduce injury risk.” That notion tracks with our testing experience: We found that finger-operated trackballs encouraged better ergonomics—full arm movements and neutral wrist posture—compared with thumb-operated models. We’ve also seen complaints online about thumb pain from using thumb-operated trackballs, but we didn’t experience any pain in our testing. And many people have used thumb-operated trackballs for years or even decades with no problems.

After suffering from repetitive strain injury (RSI) nearly 20 years ago, Wirecutter’s Dan Frakes switched to Kensington’s big trackballs on the advice of a doctor, and he has used various iterations of the Expert Mouse—from the early ADB Turbo Mouse through the current wireless model—ever since. He told us that making larger pointer movements with the entire arm and making smaller movements by rotating the arm and wrist (instead of bending the wrist) helped him avoid hand and wrist pain. “Plus, it’s just fun to fling the pointer across two displays by spinning the ball,” Dan added. But RSI is dependent on the type of work you do and your desk setup. There’s no universal solution, so talk with your doctor to see if a trackball could be useful.

We found that finger-operated trackballs encouraged better ergonomics—full arm movements and neutral wrist posture—compared with thumb-operated models.

In the Kensington survey, participants who used trackballs over mice said they found them easier to control for accurate movements. We found trackballs more precise than trackpads and more usable for design work or anything else that required accuracy. Since trackballs often have four (or more) buttons, they’re easier to customize than trackpads, which rely on gestures for basic actions. Even with the sensitivity cranked up, trackballs don’t move the cursor as fast as high-dots-per-inch (high-DPI) mice, but a good one can fling a cursor across a high-resolution screen nearly as quickly. Most trackballs use optical sensors, just as most mice do, but their DPI is often unpublished, or so low (typically around 400) that it’s not an important factor to consider. Comparing the DPI of a trackball with that of a traditional mouse isn’t helpful, either, because the two types of devices control so differently.

Since trackballs don’t move on your desk, they don’t require as much space as a mouse. This factor makes them a good choice for use on small desks, on the go, or when you need a pointing device but don’t have a hard surface available, such as on a couch. Unlike with a mouse, which eventually hits the edge of a desk, it’s impossible to run out of space with a trackball since it rotates infinitely.

We did not test other mouse alternatives—such as trackpads or vertical mice—for this guide, but depending on your needs they may be worth investigating if a trackball doesn’t work for you.

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