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What is a Wireless Mouse?

Matt Brady
Matt Brady

A wireless mouse is a computer mouse that needs no wires to send signals from the mouse to a computer. Over time, different technologies have led to the emergence of different types of wireless mice on the market. The cordless mouse offers obvious advantages over its tethered brethren, such as being able to point and click on a computer screen from across the room and run on multiple surfaces.

Wireless mouse technology predominantly uses radio frequencies (RF) to send signals from the mouse to the computer. Like other radio technologies, this requires a transmitter and a receiver. The mouse transmits radio signals to a receiver, which is itself connected to the computer hardware, normally via a wire. This kind of wireless mouse is very reliable, and capable of transmitting the mouse's movements to the receiver from across a room.

Laser mice are well-suited for wireless use.
Laser mice are well-suited for wireless use.

The emergence of Bluetooth® wireless technology offers a different spin on RF wireless mice. Using short-length radio waves, this kind of wireless mouse transmits signals to a receiver. It doesn't change the basic RF technology, but it does allow for flexibility in set-up. With Bluetooth®, the receiver doesn't have to be a housing unit connected to the computer by wire. For example, the transmitter can be a small USB plug-in. Or, with some PCs and laptops, the Bluetooth® receiver is internally embedded in the hardware. This makes it easy for a user to sync up their computer with the wireless mouse, thus removing the extra clutter of an external transmitter. The range on a Bluetooth® mouse is comparable to other RF computer mice, allowing one to point and click easily from across a standard-sized room.

Wireless mice can interact with computers through a Bluetooth dongle rather than a cable.
Wireless mice can interact with computers through a Bluetooth dongle rather than a cable.

In regard to the technology used to record movement, wireless mice are similar to corded mice. Mechanical, optical and laser mice are the three main types of both wireless and corded mice. Mechanical mice are the most traditional, and perhaps outdated, using tracking balls to detect movement. Tracking balls are generally less reliable than optical and laser mice, and typically need mouse pads to function accurately.

Optical wireless mice don't use tracking balls; instead the rely on optical light to detect movement. This allows the mouse to detect movement accurately on a variety of smooth, hard surfaces. Laser mice, which use laser light to calculate position and movement, are generally regarded as fast and accurate. Laser mice are particularly well-suited for wireless use, as they can detect movement accurately over the widest variety of surfaces, including something as convenient as a pant leg.

Wireless mice are well-suited for presentation settings. With a wireless mouse, a presenter can operate a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation from any point in a room. Wireless mice can also come equipped with laser pointers, for directing an audience's attention. Some wireless mice are also equipped with multiple buttons, such as play and stop controls, to run video and programs on a computer. Given their mobility and flexibility, wireless mice are also convenient for laptop use.

Discussion Comments


When looking to buy your first wireless mouse is it better to pay extra for the Bluetooth connectivity or just stick with a normal RF wireless mouse?

I am considering a wireless mouse for both my laptop and home computer. I would like to know if either of these connections offers a stronger signal. Also, in the case of home use, or travel, is there a certain kind of wireless mouse that is better suited for these different uses?


A wireless mouse is really handy for taking with you when you travel with your laptop. Occasionally though they run into trouble. I find all the jostling in my bag sometimes makes it hard for my mouse to work later on.

From my hassles I have found a few things to check for if your mouse is not working as it should. First, make sure you are not having any battery issues. Sometimes they come loose or wear out.

There is also the chance it is your USB port, so I find moving the receiver to a different port sometimes helps.

If worse comes to worse, you may have to reinstall your software all together. I am not sure why, but sometimes your computer will act as if it has never seen the mouse before.

I find if I go through these steps I can usually get my mouse functioning again.

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    • Laser mice are well-suited for wireless use.
      By: eevl
      Laser mice are well-suited for wireless use.
    • Wireless mice can interact with computers through a Bluetooth dongle rather than a cable.
      By: Jeka84
      Wireless mice can interact with computers through a Bluetooth dongle rather than a cable.