Saying “No” to the Master

Over the years I’ve got very adept at using the trackpad. The clincher for me was when Apple started introducing multitouch gestures. Whether I’m at my MacBook or iMac, as I go through the day I do flicks, swipes, and other gestures that make my computer dance for me. Once I mastered the built-in multitouch features, I downloaded Better Touch Tool and took the trackpad interface even further. At this point I’ve mastered the trackpad and using it feels a little bit more like playing the piano than a computer interface.

Nevertheless, I’m always interested in how things are going on the other side. Recently, I heard Myke Hurley talking about his brand-new Logitech MX Master mouse (Logitech) (Amazon). Myke loves it. With this mouse, Logitech has combined a weighty, ergonomic mouse with multiple buttons and inputs. Myke, for example, was able to drastically reduce the amount of time it takes him to edit a podcast using the programmable features of the MX Master.

This got me interested so I picked one up at the local Best Buy, keeping mindful of their two-week return policy. Myke was right. This is a remarkable mouse. It’s been years since I used a mouse and the ergonomics of the MX Master are better than any mouse I ever recall using. (They are definitely better than the Apple Magic mouse.) Likewise, just about every surface on this mouse has something you can press to make stuff happen on your Mac. In addition to the two buttons, there is a rolling wheel that can be switched between a ratcheting click or a flywheel inspired free roll. There’s also a separate scroller under your thumb and several additional buttons. The Logitech software loaded on my El Capitan Mac without breaking anything and the mouse performed without flaw for two weeks. I was able to program in many of the functions I pull off now with my trackpad using mouse buttons. The only real criticism I have is that it uses a USB dongle instead of natively pairing with the Mac through Bluetooth.

Nevertheless, I took it back. The problem was that I never truly warmed up to the mouse. If I had used it another month or two, the button layout probably would’ve become second nature just as the trackpad has for me. However, in my case, I’ve moved on. I am able to make a trackpad do a lot for me and it doesn’t move around the table, bumping into my glass of water or papers on my desk. Because I have my trackpad set up to click on tap (yes, I am one of those people), it requires virtually no force to click on my trackpad. Indeed as I go throughout the day, if one finger starts feeling a little stiff, I use a different finger for taps. While I was able to replicate many of the gestures I do with a trackpad on this super mouse, I was not able to replicate them all. Better Touch Tool gives you a seemingly infinite number of potential inputs on the trackpad. For instance, one of mine is to rest my third, fourth, and fifth fingers on the trackpad and tap with my index finger. Complex gesture like this simply are not possible with a mouse.

Finally, the biggest advantage of a mouse over a trackpad, more precise movement, didn’t really pay off for me. The mouse may have been slightly faster for some tasks, but I didn’t feel it or appreciate it enough to want to trade in my trackpad for mouse.

Now I know that some anarchists like to use both the trackpad and the mouse at the same time. If I were to go that route, I would just use an existing Magic mouse from a drawer rather than spend $100 on the souped up MX Master.

In summary, if you are mouse person, I’m not sure you could do any better than the MX Master. If you’re a trackpad person, you’re probably fine sticking to your guns.