If you are using a computer, there is a good chance that you are using a mouse to control the pointer on the computer screen. Even if you are on a laptop, many users like to use a wireless mouse. However, many people resort to having a mouse pad for the mouse to work at peak performance. But is the mouse pad really necessary?
Users do not need a mouse pad to use a modern-day optical mouse with a computer. While a mouse pad provides many benefits, the mouse is fully capable of functioning without one. However, older mice with a ball instead of a laser usually require a mouse pad.
There are several different types of computer mice, so the functionality of the mouse with a mouse pad versus without one can vary by brand and the type of mouse used. Below, we will discuss the benefits of a mouse pad and whether it is necessary to use it with different types of mice.
Do You Need a Mouse Pad to Use a Mouse?
The mouse is one of the most important parts of a computer. It allows the user to point and click files and navigate applications with ease, with some users finding it easier to use than a trackpad on a laptop.
A mouse works by using a ball or laser on the mouse’s underside to navigate where the user wants the clicker on the computer screen to point to, with the ball or laser in sync with the pointer.
Whether or not a mouse needs a mouse pad depends on the type of mouse it is:
- Older computer mice had a ball on the underside, which was the point of contact between the mouse and the surface underneath. Some surfaces made it difficult to navigate the mouse since the ball would have trouble rolling across it. Not to mention, the ball would often pick up debris, making it harder to slide the mouse around, so mouse pads were often needed.
- Modern computer mice (optical mice) will have a laser or LED light on their underside. The laser-based mouse operates like the traditional mouse with a ball would, but the biggest difference is that the mouse glides more smoothly since the light just needs to reflect off a surface to work. For this reason, most modern mice do not require a mouse pad to work.
In short, while traditional ball-based mice required a mouse pad to work effectively, most modern laser-based mice today do not.
What Are the Benefits of a Mouse Pad?
Since mouse pads are not necessarily required for mice today, you may be wondering why mousepads are still regularly used by computer users. Mouse pads actually provide several benefits:
A mouse pad can be used to keep the mouse clean and prevent any malfunctions. A computer mouse often stops working properly because there is an abundance of dust, debris, or other things stuck inside it.
In newer models of the computer mouse, excess debris can prevent the laser light from accurately moving across the surface and pointing to where the user wants it to go.
Another benefit of the mouse pad is that it prevents damage to the surface on which the mouse is being used. This is more common among older mice, which had metal balls that could easily scratch up a desk or table with prolonged use. However, even newer mice can eventually cause damage to these surfaces over time.
Some mouse pads are designed to make it easier for the laser or LED light on modern mice to bounce—rather than reflect—off the surface, improving the accuracy and speed of the pointer on a monitor’s display.
There are plenty of ergonomic mouse pads designed to provide comfort to the user. Mouse pads can reduce the amount of stress on your wrist by lifting the area and limiting how much you need to bend it.
Several mouse pads offer additional features the user can benefit from. For example, some mouse pads double as wireless chargers for mice, while others have RGB lighting that adds aesthetic to a full PC setup.
Types of Mouse Pads and Their Uses
To reap these benefits, users have to make sure they choose the appropriate mouse pad for their needs. There are a surprising number of options available, but the best one for you and your current mouse will depend on the type of mouse you own and how you intend on using the mouse and mouse pad combination.
For example, a person using their computer as a gaming computer will want a mouse pad that has significantly better tracking capabilities because it is so important in a game. They might also want a little extra cushion and comfort. However, if a person is simply using a computer to type papers and write emails, the accuracy of the mouse and maneuverability may not seem as important.
There are three different types of mouse pads, according to Easy Tech Junkie:
Ergonomic Mouse Pads
The ergonomic mouse pad is specifically designed with the user’s health in mind. These mouse pads are made with a raised pad on the front end of the pad to help prevent injuries. The ergonomic mouse pad allows the user to keep their hand in a parallel lineage with the tabletop, which can help in several ways.
With a raised pad on the front, the user can lay their wrist on the pad, which can help ease the stress that can be put upon the wrist if the user were to use the mouse without the padding. This padding helps prevent wrist fatigue and carpal tunnel, which can be a bonus for older users.
Textured Mouse Pads
The textured mouse pad is the oldest and most common mouse pad available; if you can think of the most generic mouse pad, perhaps one given away as a prize at large gatherings or conventions, you are probably thinking of a textured mouse pad.
Initially, these pads were made with a vinyl board covering to accommodate older mice with a metal ball. Now, with a smoother surface on the underside of most mice, fabric is the go-to material for the surface of these mouse pads.
Gaming Mouse Pads
The final mouse pad is the gaming mouse pad. These mouse pads are designed to have a larger surface area because gaming might require a large range of motion. They may also have a specially designed surface area that allows increased sensitivity to allow for a more accurate mouse-to-pointer connection.
Gaming mouse pads also have an ergonomic aspect as well. This is because gamers are usually playing for long periods, which can cause wrist fatigue. The padding can help prevent wrist fatigue, strain, or injury since the padding keeps the hand parallel with the table’s surface.
In the past, mouse pads were necessary for old mice that operated with a ball to make it easier for users to maneuver and avoid causing damage to a desk or table’s surface. However, mouse pads today are usually an afterthought—although they are often still used because of the numerous benefits they provide.
Not only do they keep debris from building up inside of modern-day mice and causing malfunction, but they can prevent damage to the mouse and the surface it is used on as well as offer comfort to users.
However, different types of mouse pads offer different benefits, so the one best for you to use with your mouse will come down to your preferences and what you want to get out of your mouse pad.
Hamid Tahir is a Mechatronics Engineer and founder of WFH Overload. He is currently working from home and is dedicated to the continuous improvement of his home office setup. Hamid has extensive experience setting up workspaces and dealing with the related tech. He hopes to share his knowledge to help you create the most productive and comfortable work from home setup. Read More