How to Connect a Wireless Mouse

A cordless mouse brings flexibility with just a few considerations

Wireless mice use Bluetooth technology to connect to your computer, freeing your desktop from the clutter of extra cords. Because they rely on Bluetooth, wireless mice connect just like any other Bluetooth device—with a few considerations.

Information in this article applies to Windows 10, macOS Catalina (10.15) through macOS Sierra (10.12), and Ubuntu Linux (version 18.04).

The wireless mouse relies on an onboard transmitter that communicates with a receiver inside the computer to pair with your computer. Most modern tablet computers and laptops feature built-in Bluetooth radios. However, some desktop computers do not. If your computer doesn't naturally support Bluetooth, purchase a Bluetooth adapter, or select a wireless mouse that includes a USB dongle that serves as a receiver.

Connect a Wireless Mouse on a Computer Running Windows 10

The Bluetooth menu provides a means to connect a wireless mouse in Windows 10.

  1. Open the Settings app (press Win+I as a shortcut) and select Devices.

    Windows Settings showing Devices option
  2. In the left sidebar, select Bluetooth & other devices and then select the plus sign (+) next to Add Bluetooth or other device.

    Bluetooth & other devices screen
  3. In the pop-up Add a device window, select Bluetooth.

    Add a device window in Windows
  4. Follow the steps of the add-device wizard. You need to put the wireless mouse in pairing mode. Windows detects the mouse and adds the relevant drivers.

    Making a wireless mouse discoverable differs by manufacturer, so check your quick-start instruction guide.

Connect a Wireless Mouse on a Computer Running macOS

Put your wireless mouse into pairing mode. Check the device documentation for instructions.

  1. Click the Apple logo in the menu bar at the top of the screen and select System Preferences in the drop-down menu.

    The System Preferences command under the Apple menu
  2. Click Bluetooth to open the system preferences.

    System Preferences showing the Bluetooth icon
  3. Your Mac searches for any device in pairing mode when you open the Bluetooth panel. You should see a connection request to verify that you want to connect the specified device. If so, click Connect.

    Bluetooth connection request

Connect a Wireless Mouse on a Computer Running Ubuntu Linux (Version 18.04)

Place your wireless mouse in pairing mode. Check the device documentation for instructions.

  1. Open the Bluetooth panel and ensure that the switch at the top is set to the On position.

  2. Select your mouse in the Devices list and finish the setup. Complete this step within 20 seconds to avoid timeouts. When the mouse connects, its status displays as Connected.

  3. Select the connected mouse to open a panel for device-specific customization.

Wireless Mouse Considerations

A Bluetooth mouse differs from a wired mouse in several significant ways:

  • You must remain relatively close. Although you can go as far as 33 feet away from your computer with a Bluetooth mouse, taking the mouse out of range might require that you re-pair it.
  • The wireless mouse requires batteries. You'll either need spare batteries or a charging cable for wireless mice with non-replaceable batteries. Although most modern Bluetooth mice go for months or years on a single set of batteries, Murphy's Law suggests your mouse will die at the worst possible moment. Be prepared.
  • Different mice support different numbers of paired devices. Some mice pair with one computer at a time. Other models support two or three devices. If you travel with one mouse but two computers, such as a laptop and a Windows tablet, pick a mouse that can support both without re-pairing each time you use it.
  • Wireless mice and their dongles sometimes grow legs. If your computer requires a dongle, look for a low-profile model that you can leave permanently inserted into a USB slot. Larger dongles can fall off or become damaged in a laptop bag.
  • Different computers load Bluetooth drivers at different points in their startup sequence. Should you need to troubleshoot a computer that's not starting properly, you might find that your Bluetooth mouse doesn't load before the computer goes awry. Usually, USB drivers load before wireless drivers, so you may have better luck troubleshooting a wonky computer with a wired mouse.