My Mouse Won't Work! How Do I Fix It?

Try these tips to fix a broken mouse

Unless your mouse suffers a hardware failure—by getting dunked with coffee or being batted off the side of your desk by a bored cat—odds are good that any performance glitches you see in that device are easily corrected within your operating system's core settings utility.

Graphical user interfaces are optimized for mouse input and are hard to use without a functional mouse. Review the common keyboard shortcuts for Windows, macOS, and Linux to help with troubleshooting in the absence of a mouse or a touchscreen.

Broken mice
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Cause of a Mouse Not Working

Mouse failures source from five sources:

  • Irreparable hardware damage.
  • Loss of power or connection.
  • Interference between the mouse and the work surface.
  • Outdated software.
  • Operating system glitches or misconfigurations.

How to Fix a PC or Laptop Mouse That's Not Working

Since several factors could be at the root of a mouse failing to work properly, troubleshooting the problem is the best way to make it work once more. Try these steps, organized in order of most-common and easiest to most intensive.

  1. Inspect the mouse for hardware damage. A cracked housing, a missing ball, sticky or silent clicking of the finger switches, or a failure of the optical sensor to glow suggest that the device is damaged. Given how inexpensive most mice are, hardware damage usually suggests that replacement, rather than repair, is the optimal solution.

  2. Replace the batteries. Swap the batteries out for a new set, especially if you're still using the batteries that came with the device. Consider using rechargeable batteries. Likewise, make sure the batteries are properly installed. Sometimes, closing the panel door before the battery bounces out can be tricky.

    Similarly, plug the mouse into its charger for 30 minutes to let it get enough juice to connect. Mice with USB charger ports and non-rechargeable batteries sometimes appear to fail without warning when charge levels decline too much.

  3. Clean the mouse. If the pointer moves in jerking motions or is less responsive than usual, clean the mouse to see if it improves the performance. It's easy to clean a wireless mouse or a wired mouse with a rollerball.

  4. Try a different USB port. There might be a problem with the one you're using, so unplug the mouse or the receiver and try an alternate USB port. Most desktop computers offer ports on the front and back of the computer, so try all of the ports before jumping to a different step. It could also be the case that the plug partially unseated.

  5. Connect the mouse directly to the USB port. If you use a multi-card reader or an external USB hub, there may be a problem with that device instead of the mouse or USB port. Plug the mouse directly into the computer to see if the problem clears.

  6. Use the mouse on an appropriate surface. Some mice can be used on (almost) any kind of surface. Many can't. Study your device's limitations—it may require a mouse pad, especially if you're using an older mouse. Some optical mice, for example, cannot track movement on shiny surfaces or surfaces with either very dark or very light colors.

  7. Update the driver. Check the manufacturer's website for available driver updates or use driver-updater tools. If your mouse won't do something that the manufacturer promised it would do (side-to-side scrolling, for example), check the manufacturer's website to see if a driver is required. These files are usually free.

  8. Release and re-pair a Bluetooth mouse. It's not uncommon for Bluetooth devices to either lose pairing status or to be forgotten by the computer if a different Bluetooth mouse is paired with it.