Mouse Acceleration on a Mac – What it is and How to Adjust or Disable it
What is mouse acceleration?
Mouse acceleration is something most Mac users don’t think twice about, many aren’t aware it even exists. By default the mouse drivers count the movement of your mouse and depending on your sensitivity settings, the cursor will then move across the screen by a similar and consistent distance. Mouse acceleration is basically a threshold setting on top of this, so when the mouse is moved past a certain point or at a certain speed, the cursor itself moves more quickly and goes further, thus accelerating the movement speed and rate of the mouse cursor.
How to disable or adjust mouse acceleration
There are several ways to disable or adjust the mouse acceleration curve in Mac OS X, here are 3 easy ways to turn it off or tweak the curve:
Disable mouse acceleration with defaults – the following defaults write command will disable the mouse acceleration curve in Mac OS X. This is entered into the Terminal once and can be reversed or adjusted by changing the -1 at the end. You generally must log out for the change to take effect:
defaults write .GlobalPreferences com.apple.mouse.scaling -1
Disable Mac OS X mouse acceleration via the command line – this easy to use script will completely disable mouse acceleration in Mac OS X. Settings are reversible by rebooting the machine. This is a favorite for Windows gamers.
Mouse Acceleration preference pane – you can manually adjust or disable the mouse acceleration via this preference pane in Mac OS X, this is handy if you want to manually adjust the curve rather than just disable it.
If you are looking for just instant changes and turning it off, I would recommend the command line methods, if you want precise control over the acceleration curve the preference pane is very useful.
Why do people dislike mouse acceleration?
Many new Mac users aren’t used to mouse acceleration, or the higher curve that Mac OS X’s acceleration provides compared to Windows. Mouse acceleration can cause a loss of cursor precision, particularly when trying to draw with the cursor in certain applications, or more commonly in gaming. The most common mouse acceleration complaints come from the gaming world, where the acceleration curve can lead to unanticipated mouse movements in games like Team Fortress 2 and Starcraft 2.
Personally I don’t mind mouse acceleration at all, but I have used Macs for a long time so the curve does not feel foreign to me. Many Mac switchers from the Windows world come to Mac OS X and find the cursor feels funny and more responsive, these are generally the people who would want to tweak the curve or disable the feature. For the record, mouse acceleration does exist in Windows it’s just at a different threshold and sensitivity.