How to Fix Mouse Problems

By Jane Ellis

The mouse and keyboard are the under-appreciated and usually reliable workhorses of a computer system. Most people take it for granted that the mouse will work each time they start the computer, so when it doesn't it can be highly frustrating. There are various reasons a computer's mouse may stop working. Fixing most mouse problems is relatively easy, but there are guidelines to help determine if the mouse can be repaired or should be replaced.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swab
  • Lint-free towel or paper towel

Solving General Mouse Problems

Step 1

Check the mouse's connection. If the mouse is connected through a USB port, make sure the cable is not loose. Push on the USB connector to make sure it is seated snugly. If the mouse has an older serial port connection, make sure the connector has not become loose and examine the serial port pins for signs of damage.

Step 2

Plug the mouse into another port on the computer and test it. The port can become damaged or the computer may no longer recognize the mouse in that particular port.

Step 3

Inspect the mouse's cord for signs of damage and make sure the cord has not broken loose from the USB connector end or the mouse itself. If the mouse cord has been severed or the wires have come loose on either end, the mouse likely will have to be replaced.

Step 4

Clean the mouse. A mouse that uses a ball for tracking needs frequent cleaning. Unscrew the plastic ring on the underside of the mouse in the direction indicated by the arrows on the mouse. Remove the ball in the mouse and clean the ball and the inside of the mouse, paying special attention to the small roller inside the mouse. Use a cotton swab or a clean lint-free towel and a small amount of rubbing alcohol. Allow the parts to dry, then reassemble the mouse. It should work more smoothly.

Step 5

Check the mouse settings. Go to the "Start" button on the computer, then click "Control Panel." Depending on the computer's operating system, you may have to click "Settings" first to get to the "Control Panel." Click on "Mouse." Examine the settings under the various tabs to see if any changes are required to address problems.

Step 6

Uninstall any newly added software programs or hardware. Check the performance of the mouse. If the problem is resolved, there may be a conflict with the mouse and the new program or hardware.

Step 7

End the program you are working on and restart the computer. If a user clicks the mouse too many times in rapid succession, the computer memory can freeze, which in turn freezes the mouse.

Step 8

Examine the lock button for a built-in mouse on a laptop. If the mouse stops working, you may have accidentally hit the lock button, which typically is located right above the mouse. Press the button again to unlock it.

Solving Optical Mouse Problems

Step 1

Clean the mouse. An optical mouse uses light-emitting diodes instead of a ball to track movement. Gently clean the lens area under the mouse with a soft lint-free towel or paper towel and a little rubbing alcohol.

Step 2

Use a mousepad. An optical mouse often does not work well, or at all, on a glass or glossy surface.

Step 3

Find a smooth, even surface on which to use the mouse if a mousepad is not available.

Solving Wireless Mouse Problems

Step 1

Examine the mouse receiver to make sure it is securely plugged into a USB port on the computer.

Step 2

Plug the receiver into another port in case the one being used is damaged or not compatible with the mouse.

Step 3

Replace the batteries in the mouse.

Step 4

Reinstall any drivers that came with the mouse. The system may have become corrupted, and reinstalling the driver or downloading a new driver from the manufacturer's website may fix the problem.

Tips & Warnings

  • To ensure that the problem is with the mouse, disconnect it from the computer you are using and connect it to another computer. If the mouse works with the other computer, there likely is a problem with the first computer.