OS X has many great design wins, but the mouse acceleration curve is not one of them. Using a mouse under OS X feels very unnatural if you’ve ever used another operating system. The pointer moves too slowly when you move the mouse a little and too quickly when you try to speed it up. This is because the default acceleration curve is S-shaped and far too steep.
Unfortunately, OS X (as of 10.5 Leopard anyway) provides no built-in mechanism to allow users to easily change the acceleration amount or even to turn it off. Luckily, there are some 3rd-party solutions that can correct the problem, though not all of them are free. Let’s take a look at 4 of them below.
There are 1 (or 2) free and 3 paid solutions covered in this guide. They are…
iMouseFix and MouseFix (Free)
iMouseFix by Lavacat Software is an extremely simple program that allows you change or disable the acceleration speed. It is actually a GUI version of MouseFix by Richard Bentley. I’ve found that iMouseFix does make the mouse somewhat better, but the movement is still not as desirable as the other programs offer.
iMouseFix is based on an older version (1.0) of the MouseFix core code, though, and two updates (1.1 and 1.2) are also available that improve linear response and provides a feeling more similar to Windows XP, respectively. If iMouseFix doesn’t do it for you, give MouseFix 1.1 or 1.2 a try if you aren’t afraid of running console programs.
SteerMouse by Plentycom Systems is my personal favorite in this list. After installation, it adds an entry into the control panel to configure settings including tracking speed and button mappings with application profile support. I was able to fully utilize all the buttons on my Logitech G5 gaming mouse using SteerMouse, which I could not do before as Logitech’s Mac software does not support this mouse.
SteerMouse costs $20 and there is a 30-day trial period for new installations. It supports USB and Bluetooth mice. Tip: To disable acceleration with SteerMouse, set the Tracking Speed to 0 and use the Sensitivity setting to change cursor speed.
USB Overdrive ($20)
USB Overdrive by Alessandro Levi Montalcini is a mouse driver that supports USB and Bluetooth mice. Like SteerMouse, it allows configuration of buttons and acceleration. The two programs are essentially substitutes and you’ll have to decide which you prefer.
USB Overdrive costs $20 although the trial version is not limited in features or time. There is only a reminder at login and short time delay when starting the UI.
ControllerMate by OrderedBytes is a different beast than the others. This program is for those people who really want extremely detailed control over their input devices. It can certainly be used to adjust mouse acceleration settings, but it can do so much more. Discussing such features is outside the scope of this article, but do take a look at their website if interested.
ControllerMate costs $15 and a feature-limited trial version is also available.
We’ve taken a look at 4 different programs that can modify the mouse acceleration settings in OS X. For those who just want to adjust the acceleration settings, try iMouseFix or MouseFix. For button assignment and profile support, take a look at SteerMouse and USB Overdrive. Finally, for more control than you will probably ever need over your input devices, give ControllerMate a glance.
It is unfortunate that Apple does not include a control panel for controlling acceleration. However, one of the solutions above should hopefully satisfy your needs.