How to Use a Trackball Mouse

Almost every computer needs a mouse or trackpad to navigate the operating system and access different applications. Mouses and trackpads generally work fine with all popular operating systems like Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows. Yet, they do possess certain disadvantages. There exists another alternative to the above peripheral devices, trackballs. This device and the mouse were invented in the same timeline. However, trackballs have been ignored by a vast majority of the users. 

So, why did we mention trackball as an alternate? Why should you use one? How do you use one? All of these are questions that are going to be answered in this article.

Why You Should Use a Trackball


If you have a desk job that requires sitting and working on a computer the entire day, then it is safe to assume that you use a mouse. Working with a mouse for long periods can have a severely negative impact on your wrist. The frequent movement of your cursor over your desktop screen can pose the risk of wrist pain. 

Trackballs come in here and take a significant part of the effort from the muscles of your wrists. Now, most of the work is shifted to your fingers. You may have to use your wrist and arm to make a broad movement with your cursor. 


This device, like every other new device, needs its share of practice. Typically, new users of the trackball become concerned with the accuracy of the trackball. The only problem you likely face is when you are moving the cursor vertically and horizontally in a straight line. What is true is that trackballs can be as precise as a mouse and more than the trackpad. 

Early graphic designers favored using the trackball over mouses when operating computers. Of course, with the new technology, artists find that tablets give the smoothest and precise control to the user.

An Excellent Substitute for the Travel Mouse

Many laptop owners are not fans of their device’s trackpad or don’t have touchscreen displays. For such users, a trackball outweighs the benefits of the travel mouse greatly. It simply wins when space for movement is considered. When using the trackball, you just need the area for the device itself and none for any activity. Despite that, you have access to the complete range of motion. 

Travel mouses become a pain to use when traveling in airplanes. Those airplane tray tables have little space for a mouse. You will need to continually pick up and move your mouse, which will become cumbersome. 


The gaming industry is a vast market for mouses. Mouses are continually being discussed in the community. Gamers can be found discussing a particular mouse’s dpi, response time, and tracking accuracy. Some models allow for their sizes and weights to be altered. Such functionalities come at the cost of a steep price tag. That is why gaming mouses can be priced be at $100 or even more.

Keeping in mind the open-ended nature of first-person games, you can rotate your cursor infinitely in any given way with a trackball. If you were to carry out the same action using a mouse, you would have to move your mouse up and reposition it multiple times. When using a trackball, the only effort you will be doing is with your thumb. To do the previous action, you will have to only move your thumb to the other side of the ball. This will make the action much faster and require minimum movement.

The only con a trackball may have is the number of buttons compared to a gaming mouse. For example, the trackball M570 comes with five buttons. There is also another argument that there is added latency due to the wireless nature of the M570. While this argument is valid, it would only be applicable if the user is competing at an extremely professional level. 

How to Use a Trackball

The regular mouse is easy to understand. The pointer portrays the mouse and will follow the movement of the mouse. 

For the trackball, it is a little different. You can think of the pointer being right over the ball. As you start rolling the ball, the pointer will start moving on top of it. Moreover, trackballs use a distinct way of tracking momentum. A regular mouse will move when you push it a little. However, for the trackball, you spin it like a marble. The faster your hand moves, the quicker the pointer will move. 

At first, using the trackball may feel unsettling, but you can follow these helpful tips to make it easier. 

  1. When selecting trackballs for purchase, be sure to test various ball positions and styles. Balls of smaller sizes that can rest beneath one finger are best for daily usage. There are also larger balls that may require more than one finger or your entire palm. It is best for the accuracy or dual/larger monitors.
  2. Once your trackball has been successfully linked to your computer, locate your pointer on your screen and glue your eyes to it. Now, gently roll the ball forward and backward till you get a raw feel for the trackball.
  3. The included software and drivers let you alter the settings. For new users, trackballs can feel more sensitive than ordinary mouses. Decrease its sensitivity to a level you are comfortable with.
  4. Test the buttons and figure out which is natural to you; keep your purposes in mind. Decide whether you prefer using the right-click, left-click, and other functionalities. Input options can vary according to your trackball. Certain trackballs have the option of clicking pressing the ball itself.
  5. Little by little, use your trackball to do various tasks. For instance, you can use it for gaming first. This way can pick up a sense of its feel and gain some practice. When you start getting more used to the trackball, you can begin using it to complete other work. And slowly start eliminating the conventional mouse from your daily work.

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In the end, we strongly recommend using trackball mice if you are facing any issues with your forearm or wrist caused by your trackpad or mouse. The ergonomics of the trackball certainly offer a significant advantage when being used as the main cursor control. It is particularly beneficial for frequent travelers that dislike using their laptop’s trackpad or travel mouses.