Parts of a computer mouse and its functions

A computer mouse is a pointing input device that is used to click icons on a computer. It is connected to the computer by a cable or using wireless technologies. They are categorized as pointing devices because mostly they are used to point to a position on the screen to execute commands.

A mouse function is to click, select, hover, draw, scroll, drag and drop, and point icons on the computer system. It is made up of 2 buttons, right and left, a wheel, LED or laser light, a ball, and its circuit board. They are mostly used in Graphic User Interface (GUI) systems such as Windows operating systems. 

Parts of a computer mouse

Parts of mouse

Parts of a computer mouse

  1. Buttons: mouse has 2 buttons on the left and right. The left button is the normal (primary button) click button while the right button is used for more options.
  2. Wheel: it is in between the buttons. It is used to scroll documents up or down.
  3. Cable/connector: this is used on the wired mouse to connect to the system unit. For wireless mice, no cable is required.
  4. Ball: this used to be on the old types of mice. They were used to give the coordinate of the cursor at any particular time. It was linked to a sensor to detect the mouse position. It was replaced by other technologies such as an optical mouse.
  5. LED or laser: they generate light that is used to determine the position of the mouse hence the cursor movement.
  6. Mouse motherboard: it carries the mouse processor and other electronic components. It sends and receives signals from the computer motherboard to enable mouse system communication.

Uses of a computer mouse

  1. Pointing items: mouse is used to point to items on the screen. In most applications when an item is pointed it offers more details about that option.
  2. Selecting: mice can be used to select text content on any document. They are used to select only a specific part of text from the whole.
  3. Drawing: in CAD programs mouse can be used for drawing. It makes the work of drawing very simple and easy to execute.
  4. Dragging and drop: it can be used to move an icon, image, or element from one point on the screen to another point.
  5. Scrolling up and down of document or screen: mouse is used to move screen content either up or down. The mouse wheel is used for this function.
  6. Clicking: this is the main function of a mouse. Click is used to open the file, execute a command, and view more options among other things.
  7. Hovering: this means moving the mouse over an object to get an effect. For example, when you hover the mouse over a webpage link it changes the type of mouse icon.
  8. Playing games: mouse is used to execute different moves in a computer game.


The main 2 types are mechanical and optical mice.


These were the old mouse that was replaced with an optical mouse. It used to have a ball underneath it. When you move the mouse over a mousepad or the surface the ball moves. The ball would then rotate some small wheel in the mouse which then generates a signal that can be used by the computer to know how far and in which direction the ball has moved and move the pointer respectively.

mechanical computer mouse

A mechanical mouse with the ball removed

They had one main disadvantage the ball used to collect dirt which clogged the wheel and hence needed cleaning.


They transmit data like in mechanical except that they don’t use the ball to determine the location. Instead, they use optical sensors which are moved along a reflective material. When it passes along a line an impulse is recorded to show the location.

They solve the problem of dust on the ball and again no moving part on them unlike the mechanical. The main disadvantage is that they need a surface that can reflect light, so if used on a smooth surface they may not work as expected.

Other types of mice include:

Cordless: they don’t have a cable connecting them to the system unit. They are connected using wireless technology.

Touchpads: these are mostly used in portable devices such as laptops and palmtops.

Trackball: it is an alternative to the ordinary mouse. It has a ball on the upper side. The user moves the ball using a thumb to move the cursor around.

How to connect a mouse to the system unit

The mouse used to be connected using a PS/2 connector which used to have 6 pins. They were color-coded green to differentiate from the purple keyboard. PS/2 is being replaced with USB Connected mice and wireless/cordless. They are faster and there is no risk of breaking the pins.

To connect the USB mouse, locate any USB port either in front or back of the system unit and plug it in. A USB mouse is a plug-and-play which means you connect and start using it.

How to check mouse drivers are working in Windows 10

By default mouse drivers are installed when the computer operating system is installed. However, if they are not working well you can still install them. They can be downloaded from the manufacturer’s website.

You can also check driver conditions on Windows 10 by going to computer management and device management in the computer setting.


The above image shows pointing device driver status on Windows 10 operating system

How to change mouse properties on Windows 10.

By default, the mouse has properties set but users can change them to their preferred preferences. In Windows 10 mouse properties are found in the control panel, click on hardware and sound then click on the mouse. You will now have the screen below.


For users who have challenges with using a normal mouse and its functionality, the Windows operating system offers extra mouse settings. The settings are in Windows ease of access tools where the user can change the colour of the cursor, width, and size among others.

Mouse properties setting in Windows 10.

  1. Button: user can switch the primary button between right and left. By default left is primary. Can be used to change double click speed and turn on click-lock
  2. Pointer: is used to customize the pointers icon that will appear. Also is used to add the pointer shadow.
  3. Pointer options: used to change motion, snap-to, and visibility of the mouse.
  4. Wheel: it set the vertical and horizontal scrolling options
  5. Hardware: it gives mouse driver details.
  6. Touchpad: This is only available to laptops or computers with a touchpad. It is used to make changes to the touchpad settings.

5 computer mouse techniques

  1. Right-click: it pressing the right button. Used to display extra commands.
  2. Left Click: It is also called the primary button. It is the one that is used most of the time. Mostly used to select an item
  3. Double click: means clicking on the left button twice and fast (depending on the speed setting). Used to open a file
  4. Scroll: use the wheel in the middle to move down or up the window or an opened document.
  5. Drag and drop: used when you select an item, then you move it to the location you want and drop (position) it there.

What is a laptop touchpad? 

Portable devices like laptops and palmtops don’t have a mouse but use a touchpad. The touchpad in a laptop is a substitute for a mouse. To move the cursor on the screen you touch and move your finger over a touch-sensitive pad.

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