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

Try these tips to fix a broken mouse

Broken mice: my mouse won't work
John Caezar Panelo / Contributor/Getty Images

We've all been there. You sit down at the computer, ready to undertake some task and your mouse isn't working. Maybe the mouse cursor isn't as fluid as it used to be and it jumps all over the screen. Or, maybe the light at the bottom is out and it doesn't work at all. You can fix most mouse problems with relative ease.

Cause of a Mouse Not Working

Multiple issues could be behind a mouse suddenly ceasing to work. Any of these might be the cause:

  • Loss of power or connection.
  • Interference between the mouse and the work surface.
  • Outdated software.

How to Fix a Mouse Not Working

Since are 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. Here are some of the best things to try:

  1. Replace the batteries. Swap them 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.

  2. Clean your mouse. If the pointer is moving in jerking motions or is less responsive than usual, clean your mouse to see if it improves the performance. Regular mouse maintenance is something you should do anyway. It's easy to clean a wireless mouse or a wired mouse with a rollerball with a little bit of instruction.

  3. Try a different USB port. There might be a problem with the one you're using, so unplug your mouse or the receiver and try an alternate USB port. Most desktop computers have ports on the front and back of the computer, so try all of them before jumping to a different step.

  4. Connect the mouse directly to the USB port. If you're using 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.

  5. Use the mouse on an appropriate surface. Some mice can be used on (almost) any kind of surface. Many can't. Know your device's limitations, and make sure you're working on the right surface. This may mean that you require a mouse pad, especially if you're using an older mouse. Some optical mice, for example, cannot track movement on shiny surfaces or on surfaces with either very dark or very light colors.

  6. Update the driver. Check the manufacturer's website for a driver, or use an automated tool like one of these driver updater tools. If your mouse won't do something the manufacturer promised it would do (side-to-side scrolling comes to mind), check their website to see if a driver is required. These files are usually free.

  7. If you’re using a Bluetooth mouse, make sure it’s been paired correctly. With the right process, learning to pair a Bluetooth mouse is a breeze. It's not uncommon for Bluetooth devices to either "lose" their pairing status, or to be forgotten by the computer if a different Bluetooth mouse is paired with it.

  8. Reassign buttons. If the mouse's buttons have been swapped, as in the left clicker performs a right-click function and the right clicker does a left click when pressed, there's either a driver problem or a software problem. If you've already installed the correct driver, check the Mouse applet in Control Panel to see if the mouse buttons have been swapped.