There’s not much you can do on a computer if the mouse isn’t working – especially if you’re on a desktop PC. Here, then, are the first things to check if your mouse has gone on strike.
Check the batteries
If a wireless mouse has suddenly stopped working, there’s a good chance the batteries have run flat. Mice batteries can last a year or more, so it’s pretty easy to forget those cells need replacing once in a while.
There are two different types of wireless mouse: ones that accept regular AA or AAA batteries and those with rechargeable batteries. If you’ve got the former, pop a new battery into the mouse and see if that brings it back to life. There’s normally a small battery compartment on the bottom of the mouse.
If you’ve got a rechargeable mouse, plug it into the computer’s USB port and get some life back into the battery. You may not be able to use the mouse while it’s recharging.
To prevent the mouse running out of battery in the future, use the Bluetooth settings on your computer to periodically check the battery life. If you click the Bluetooth icon in the Mac Menu Bar, you should see something like this, with each device’s battery level displayed:
In Windows 10 or 11, use the Start menu search to search for ‘Bluetooth’ and open the Bluetooth device settings. Again, you should see something like this that displays the battery life of connected devices:
Check the Bluetooth connection
The other likely suspect for a dead mouse is the Bluetooth connection. Bluetooth is much more reliable than it was, but still prone to the odd wobble.
Again, use the computer’s Bluetooth settings to check if the mouse is connected. In the Mac screenshot above, devices highlighted in blue are actively connected. As you can see from the Windows screenshot above, connected devices are marked with a green dot and the word connected.
If your device isn’t connected, click on it to see if you can re-establish a connection. If it’s not even listed in the “paired devices”, you might try adding the mouse again. On Mac, click Bluetooth preferences from the Bluetooth menu and hopefully the device will be shown in the list for you to re-connect. On Windows, click Add device from the menu shown above and follow the instructions.
Check the mouse is powered on
Some wireless mice have a power switch on the bottom or side of the mouse that allow you to save battery when it’s not in use. Pictured above is the power switch on the Logitech M720 mouse, for example. If it’s showing red, it’s powered off. Flick the switch to bring it back to life.
Check the right device is selected
Many modern mice can be used with more than one computer. They will often have a selector switch or button that allows you to switch the device they’re connected to. It’s quite easy to accidentally press this button and disconnect your mouse from your computer.
Again, using the Logitech M720 as an example, the button highlighted above lets you switch devices. If you press the button once, it moves to the next device. If the light under the number is flashing, that’s a sign it’s not connected. If the mouse has only ever been connected to one device, it will usually be device number 1. Press that button until 1 is lit.
Check the USB dongle
Another reason for a mouse not working is a problem with the USB dongle (or receiver). Older desktop PCs might not have built-in Bluetooth and so you’re relying on a little USB dongle (such as the one pictured above) to make the connection with the mouse. This is very common with Logitech devices.
Check that the USB dongle hasn’t become dislodged. Perhaps try removing and reinserting it in the computer, so that the computer recognises the dongle again. If that fails, try inserting the dongle into a different computer to see if it’s a problem with the dongle itself.
Check for Bluetooth interference
One last possibility – Bluetooth interference may be causing problems for your mouse.
There were reports that the newer M1/M2 Macs were having problems with third-party mice, forcing them to intermittently disconnect. Grumbles about this appear to have died down recently, but you do still see the odd complaint.
Although rare, it’s also possible something electrical is interfering with the Bluetooth signal. Poorly shielded microwave ovens and other devices can disrupt Bluetooth signals. If you’re having intermittent connection issues, it’s worth experimenting to see if switching off other household devices in the vicinity has any impact.