Howto use a Microsoft Intellimouse with OS X

While I’m not a fan of their operating systems, I definately like Microsoft’s mice. I’m very partial to the Intellimouse Optical, the beige and silver optical which is omni-handed. I’m not a lefty, I just find every “contoured” mouse I try to be wickedly uncomfortable. I use an Intellimouse on my home and work PCs. In particular, I’m extremeley dependant on the scroll wheel, scroll wheel button (to open a new tab in Firefox), and the thumb button (aka “Button 4”), which acts as a back button in Firefox (and in IE).

Tonight, I plugged my Intellimouse into my Mac, and was surprised to find that it did not work as expected. The left and right buttons worked fine, as did the scroll wheel. However, middle-clicking worked in Safari but not in Firefox. The thumb button did not work at all. Also, the scroll wheel seemed to accelerate as I used it, which I found to be very disorienting. I could find no answer to these problems in System Preferences, or Firefox’s preference panel.

After Googling a bit, it turns out that Microsoft provides Intellipoint software for OS X. I didn’t really think about needing additional software since I already knew that the Mac would handle right-clicking and scroll wheels. As loathe as I am to install Microsoft software on a Mac, I decided to give it a spin; I’ve had largely good experiences with Intellipoint on Windows, and I really needed to get a mouse set up that works like I expect.

Success. I downloaded and installed Intellipoint 5.1 for OS X*, which of course required a reboot (insert Windows joke here). The installation added a new item to System Preferences, which launches the Intellipoint software. Having this installed seems to fix the Back (thumb) and Forward (5th) button automagically. Also, the scrolling settings have an “Enable Accelerated Scrolling” option which was off by default; I no longer see the accelerated scrolling.

Fixing my middle click in Firefox was one extra step. Using the Intellimouse software, I had to change the meaning of middle click from the default “Next Application” to “Click”. Once “Click” is chosen, checkboxes allow you to select modifiers. I set up middle click to equal Cmd+Click, and all is well with the world.

Kudos to Ste Grainer, whose comment on Jeremey Zawodney’s blog outlined the middle click fix, and made me realized I must need some extra software.

P.S. – I’m behind on my blogging, but hey… it’s the holidays. I promise to try and catch up a little; I do have a few good things I need to blog.

*Note: I make no promises about the link above, Microsoft isn’t known for having Cool URIs. If the link doesn’t pan out, just poke around the Microsoft site like I did. One suggestion… I found the drivers on the product page, not in the Support section.

Update: As much as I hate closing comments on a post, this one is just a spam magnet. If you have anything to contribute, drop me a line.

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