Magic Mouse

Have you experienced a slow and jumpy cursor while using a Magic Mouse or other Bluetooth input device on your Mac? Admittedly, this may not apply to all of you, but if you’re like me and use a Magic Mouse with a MacBook Pro, you may have encountered this maddening issue.

The problem has to do with choppy, laggy, jumpy, and overall slow mouse performance while using a Bluetooth mouse. There are some things that you can do to troubleshoot, but I took all of the obvious steps, and still could not alleviate the issue. That is, until I realized that an unlikely culprit was causing my problems.

Okay, so before I share the solution for the problem, you definitely want to eliminate any of the obvious potential causes for problems

Step 1: replace your Mouse’s batteries

Step 2: restart your Mac

Step 3: clean the railing and remove any debris from the laser opening

Step 4: remove any other wireless electronic devices from around the area, as these may be causing interference

Yes, I tried all of those options. I even went as far as to eliminate any start up items that may have been causing problems. None of that worked. My trackpad worked perfectly fine, but my Magic Mouse was still jerky and slow. It was an absolute horrible experience, and made my work near impossible via the Magic Mouse.

But here’s what fixed my problem: I removed the USB drive from my MacBook Pro’s USB port. I had a bus-powered USB 3.0 hard drive connected to my Mac, and that, as it turns out, was what caused the problem.

Apple actually notes that this can be a problem on its support pages:

I sometimes have difficulty with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth devices when USB 3 devices are attached to my computer. What could be wrong?

Some USB 3 devices, hard drives in particular, can generate radio frequency interference that can cause Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices operating in the 2.4GHz band to have issues communicating with your computer. Do not place hard drives or other USB devices behind the rear of your Mac near at the hinge of your screen. The antennas for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are located there, and USB 3 devices placed there may interfere with your wireless connections. See this white paper for more information.

So the problem stemmed from the radio frequency interference generated by the USB 3.0 hard drive. If you have external hard drive, you’ll need to remove them from around the vicinity of your MacBook’s hinge, where the Bluetooth radio is located. I’ve found that it’s best to relocate the devices further away if possible.

So there you have it. If I would have been aware of this issue, as highlighted by Intel’s white paper document back in 2012, I would have known that it was stupid of me to place a USB 3.0 external drive so close to my MacBook and still expect my 2.4Ghz Magic Mouse to perform like a champ.

Have you ever experienced choppy performance from your Magic Mouse or other Bluetooth input device? Drop us a note below and let us know.

  • Michael Pearlman

    Jeff, how funny I just had this issue 2 days ago on iMac and tried all the above steps with no success. It was suggested on another thread to reset NVRAM (which I don’t even know that means) but after doing so it was immediately fixed. Here are the steps to reset NVRAM

    Resetting NVRAM
    Shut down your Mac.
    Locate the following keys on the keyboard: Command (⌘), Option, P, and R.
    Turn on your Mac.
    Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys immediately after you hear the startup sound.
    Hold these keys until the computer restarts and you hear the startup sound for a second time.
    Release the keys.

    • I tried that before, mo avail. Going to try Jeff’s method

    • Idahodoc

      Worked GREAT! Thanks! Was driving me crazy. Never happened before, maybe e because I switch among 4 BT devices between home and work…

    • DogstarNYC

      having the same problem intermittently..will try this and see if it works.

    • isolatedmind

      Totally worked! You’re my savior! Any idea on anything you might lose after purging this NVRAM? I haven’t noticed anything yet.

  • Raid

    What’s the best iPhone mouse? Been using remotemouse but need something that really functions like a magic trackpad better with ore gesture recognitions and intergration…

    • Anonymous

      So this wont help you, but consider the an iphone 6s with force touch and what deves will be able to do with an app for the reason your look for a mouse app now.

      • Anonymous

        Thats sayingthe next iphone has force touch of course

  • M_Hawke

    No,Jeff, you aren’t stupid for having your USB 3.0 drive too near your mouse. The manufacturer of the drive was stupid for not including shielding in the cable to prevent this.

  • This is the very last thing I would have ever thought of. Nice tip!

  • Joe Honse

    Holy Toledo! I’ve been fighting this for weeks, and sure enough I have a USB 3 drive connected for Time Machine backups. I’m hoping this will help before I go nuts. Thanks!

  • Felipe Queiroz Drumond

    Sometimes I think about buying this mouse. But whenever I try it at an Apple Store, I realize that it seems to be slow, laggy or has a low DPI. In addition, it is heavy. Instantly I think I’ll get stressed if I use it. I think it’s time to Apple refresh it. Until there, I’ll still use my Logitech Anywhere MX with Darkfield until it dies.

  • How about usb 3.0 Hubs? Mine is on the side of the mac. Should i move it away also?

  • Favna

    Here’s another fix in a few simple steps:

    1. Buy a windows machine
    2. Buy a proper mouse
    3. Enjoy life and never have to bother with virtual machines for jailbreaking again.

  • kleerkoat

    i’m regretting buying mine, it disconnects randomly, sometimes several times an hour.

    even with Better Touch Tool and others it drives me nuts not having a MMB.

    If it didn’t disconnect all the damn time it would be a great mouse for an average computer user. I’ve gone back to my wired Evoluent mouse.

  • Owen Reece Howarth

    I know that a lot of laptops (including Macs) have this when they aren’t grounded correctly! I used to put my finger in the USB port and my mouse would work properly!

  • Funky Dog

    Is this some kind of link bait ? I don’t read any really useful information about the problem…

  • Ahmed

    nope, I have ipod touch and 6S connected and got lagginess from a WIRED usb mouse (logitech in case that matters). Apple probably covers up some screw up in usb drivers. Though the jerkiness went minutes away after login: not sure that was causing it on user selection (lock?) screen and shortly afterwards. NSA@work?

  • Chris Eddie

    May just be placebo effect, but I was having this issue when I moved my Airport Time Capsule right next to my MBP. Moved it to the other side of my desk and things, so far, appear to be working normal. I wouldn’t think Apple stuff would interfere with other Apple stuff…

  • Richard Edwards

    Thanks! This was driving me crazy. Not found a good spot for my USB3.0 Time Machine drive yet (for a Mac Mini) but unplugging it has given me back mouse control!

  • cory campbell

    I hope this helps everyone. I have been reading in several areas to try and fix my jerky Logitech MX Master mouse and Apple Magic Mouse. It turned out to be interference with a external thunderbolt hard drive dock. Once I disconnected the thunderbolt dock the mouse functions normally.

  • ShitMyNameWontF

    Useless article with the most duh list lol

  • David Leyland

    Thank you so much for this! I was about to buy a new mouse thinking it was faulty. I had tried everything and couldn’t work out the problem!

  • chammell

    Thx. I had the problem, but a slightly different culprit. My macbook was sitting on top of my trusty Dell laptop. The Dell was always on. I put it to sleep and problem gone.

  • Pascal Lapointe

    Had this magic mouse issue for two days and was wondering what could cause that. After reading your post I look at the Lexar USB drive plugged at the rear of my Mac Mini and though to myself that it couldn’t realistically affect my mouse but I choose to give it a try… Damn, it works!!! Could never found it without you, thanks a lot for the share.

  • wReckLesss

    My god, it really is my USB hub. Well that sucks… What’s the point in having one then?

  • Rubén Jiménez Rodríguez

    Yes! Thank you for this post. This is exactly what was happening to me. I plugged a USB 3.0 card reader and then the mouse started doing funny things.

  • Phillip J Djwa

    Wow, thanks a lot. I had this problem. I move my router that was behind my mac air, and voila! It’s not USB3 but I’m guessing it was creating the interference. No more laggy mouse. Thanks for the tip.

  • CS

    Thank you for posting this! I have been in agony for months with my logitech with my MacBook Air. This fixed it!

  • Bron L

    This had been driving me crazy! I’d been blaming an OS update. I did the reset thing and had no luck, but then had a look and pulled a big chunk of fluff off the laser opening. :happy_dance:

  • James Wages

    I had this problem today. My 5k iMac running Sierra had automatically woken from sleep and when I touched my bluetooth mouse, the arrow cursor moved so slowly it was almost impossible to use. But I then plugged my Lightning cable into the mouse, left it that way a few seconds, then unplugged it, and the problem was gone. Not sure what caused it because I’ve never had a problem like this before on any Mac, and I’ve been using Macs since 1984. Anyway, I hope this tip helps some of you.

  • This was the issue. WOW!! I have tried everything else!!!

  • Hans van Tulden

    For the passed 4 years i have experienced multiple problems with all kind of mice, including apples’ magic mouse. None of what i found on the internet solved it.

  • sieler

    Thanks, solved my problem!

    USB 3 drive (WD “My Passport for Mac”) was plugged into s USB hub, the same hub that the mouse receiver (2.4 GHz, not bluetooth) was plugged into (and, ab out 1/2 foot apart). I unplugged the drive…problem vanished. I plugged the drive back in, problem back. I moved the mouse receiver to a dedicated USB port on the laptop (instead of on the hub), 2 feet from drive, problem vanished!

  • Mark Cooper

    For me the problem was my smart watch (FitBit) which uses BlueTooth and is pretty much beside my mouse the whole time. D’Oh!

  • Martin Zlatanov

    Thank you Jeff,
    it turns out that the two USB 3.0 Hard Drives connected to the Mac Mini were causing the problem. I ended up with one Magic Mouse for sale, as I bough new one few months ago, thinking that the problem was coming from the mouse.
    Not the two Hard Drives are connected to the monitor who has 3 USB 3.0 ports and the mouse works perfectly.

  • Zach Shallcross

    My Solution: I tried the NVRAM reset and it didn’t seem to help. I work in a design studio where any number of other Apple mice or bluetooth devices could interfere with the signal. I opened up my bluetooth settings on my Mac and disconnected my mouse. I then reconnected it hoping the device could find a different frequency or something. That seems to have worked for me. My mouse is much less laggy and jittery now.

  • Ernie Valdez

    This is actually embarrassing but feel I should share. After switching batteries, I unknowingly knocked loose one of the black slide rails on the bottom of the mouse. This small 2mm difference in height was the cause of my “herky jerky” motion. After over an hour of trying everything on this page, I took a close look and discovered it and snapped it back into place. WORKS PERFECT NOW….. take a look at your rails on the bottom and make sure they are flush and not protruding…

  • maythahla

    Jeff, you have restored my sanity but amplified my anger that Evoluent haven’t offered this idea as a solution to the same problems. All I got was the usual try another mouse, another computer another mouse mat etc.. with no theory as to why the problem arose suddenly when none of those parameters had changed recently. In fact what had changed was that I’d moved the receiver to a position next to a USB3 device’s cable slot. I’ve removed it and put it on the end an extension USB cable to get it away from all the stuff around it, and hey presto, all is working well again. Cannot thank you enough for your suggestion. Just wish I’d found it many surfing hours earlier.