Reasons Why Not To Choose a Macintosh

Reason 27 of : “The Mac's one button mouse is stupid”

"How about you right click it on your Mac... Oh, you can't can you? Huh huh huh!"

I'm sure many a Mac user will have heard variations of this highly hilarious quip thrown their way at some point. But are there true words said in such jest? Let's see...

Once upon a time...

When mouse operated computer systems first made their mainstream appearance with Apple's Lisa and Macintosh computers back in the early 1980s – before they came to wide acceptance on IBM clone PCs – the one button mouse was considered sufficient. And they were probably right. The aim of this new type of OS, was to emphasise ease of use; and what could be easier than most of the computer's functionality being controllable with a single button?

For the years that followed, Apple always stuck rigidly to that ethos by equipping their Macintosh computers with a single button mouse, arguing its ease of use made it ideal for the not so computer savvy.

And if you really needed anything more elaborate, any USB mouse could be purchased and used. And frankly, if you're too tight to do that, then you probably weren't seriously considering buying a Mac anyway. [grin]

Then the others came

But as other PCs with WIMP operating systems began to appear – not least of which being ones equipped with Microsoft's Windows – they invariably began to include multiple buttons on their mice (mouses?), and eventually, scroll wheels. This became so ubiquitous, Apple's one button controls all approach became viewed as impracticably dogmatic, unnecessarily simplisitic, and a bit of a running joke among the more computer savvy. And arguably, they had a point.

What many not in the know about Macs didn't seem to understand though, is that there was nothing about the Mac's OS that insisted on a single button mouse. It was perfectly capable of making use of one with as many buttons and scroll wheels as they liked. Plus, any of the functionality they were used to having with a second button on Windows for instance, was simply replicated with the single button while holding down a keyboard modifier key (the 'Control' key). So it really wasn't the big deal breaker many assumed it to be.

That was then – This is now!

But as said, that was then. The here and now is that any new desktop Mac that has a mouse included in the box, will come with one configurable with multiple functions and a 4 way scroll wheel. Apple grandiosely calls it the 'Mighty Mouse'. It looks like a single button mouse, and indeed it may be configured by default to work like a single button mouse, but it is capable of 'sensing' which side it's being pressed, thereby offering the functionality of multiple buttons.

It should be of note however, that while Apple's bundled desktop mouse is 'cured' of its button deficiency, the laptops remain with a single touchpad button. But again, there are ways to configure it to emulate a second button and more with multi-touch touchpad gestures, and the keyboard modifier key replicates its functionality; which is even less hassle with the keyboard and touchpad being mere inches apart.

So... short, anyone who gives the one button mouse as a reason not to choose a Mac, is probably not using up-to-date information. There are a few minor caveats to work around, but I think we can safely say now, this 'reason' is largely debunked!

Page content last updated 9 August 2008