Problem: You can connect your input device (mouse, keyboard, tablet, etc.) to your Mac, and it works. Sort of. You seem to be missing some advertised features, the tracking performance is sluggish, or it just doesn’t work the way you want it to.
Solution: Apple includes universal drivers for input devices, so if you plug in a mouse or keyboard manufactured by companies like Logitech, Kensington, or Microsoft, the device tells your computer what kind of peripheral it is. Mac OS X loads the universal driver for this peripheral unless there is a more appropriate driver already installed. Since the universal driver provides only basic functionality, many of the neat features available with your input device may be missing. You need a driver from your device’s manufacturer to get this additional functionality.
If your input device already does everything you want it to do, there is no reason you need to install a driver. To gain more functionality from your device, however, follow these steps:
- Check to see if you already have installed a driver for the device. If you remember installing one, this may not be necessary. Major manufacturers generally have a system preference or application installed to allow you to configure the device. For example, Logitech installs the Logitech Control Center. Kensington installs MouseWorks. Microsoft installs IntelliPoint or IntelliMouse. Look for these in your System Preferences, your Applications folder, or your Utilities folder.
- If the software is already installed, you may simply need to configure it to your liking. If this does not work, or if you have not installed the software, read on.
- Do not install the software from the CD that came with your device. It is almost certainly out of date. Instead, you must visit your manufacturer’s website to download the latest version of the software for Mac OS X. Each manufacturer’s website has a support section where you can download drivers for mice and keyboards.
- Once you have downloaded the software, you may want to uninstall the existing driver (if one is already installed). As examples, both Microsoft and Logitech place uninstallers in the /Applications/Utilities folder. Kensington includes an uninstaller with the software download from their website. After you uninstall the driver, restart your computer before installing the new driver. Please note that there is a small risk that your device will stop working completely if you uninstall the driver, and without a mouse or keyboard, this could make it very difficult to install a new driver. If you do not want to take this risk, skip this step.
- Install the software you have just downloaded. You may want to restart your computer, but if the installer does not require it, you do not have to.
- Once the newest software is installed, open the configuration application (or system preference) and configure your device to your liking.
- If your device still does not function, make sure you have tried uninstalling the driver and reinstalling the newest version. You may also need to repair disk permissions, using Disk Utility. Finally, verify from your manufacturer’s website that your mouse or keyboard software is compatible with the version of Mac OS X you are running. Occasionally, Mac OS X updates break compatibility with these drivers. When that happens, you can contact the manufacturer to see if they have a beta version of a new driver that is compatible. If not, you may have to wait for an updated driver. If all else fails, contact your peripheral’s manufacturer to see if they have additional troubleshooting advice.
You generally do not need to install drivers for Apple-branded mice and keyboards, even if you buy them months or years after you buy your Mac. This assumes that you continue to update to the latest version of Mac OS X, which adds support for new features, devices, and fixes bugs. Some third-party developers, however, offer software enhancements to give your devices more functionality. For example, MagicPrefs allows you to customize gestures on your Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, or trackpad in far more ways than the built-in software does. Apple does not officially support the use of this software.
Did this guide work for you? How else have you been able to make your input device work better in Mac OS X? Let others know in the comments.
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