The cause for all your Mac OS X mouse annoyances

…are 32 milliseconds.

The main problem of mouse movement in Mac OS X is not acceleration — it’s lag.

 * * *

SmoothMouse, the long-awaited fix for mouse problems in OS X, has been released.

Further discussion about mouse lag continues on the SmoothMouse Forum.

* * *

By that I mean a delay between receiving movement data from the mouse device and rendering the on-screen cursor. The lag of a Mac OS X cursor is at least twice bigger than Windows’ cursor and yes, a human eye can surely notice that.

I mentioned acceleration because a lot of people often confuse it with lag. The truth is, in Mac OS X you can change acceleration to whatever you want using many programs and techniques. In ControllerMate, for instance, you can manually draw your own acceleration curve.

But it’s all pretty much useless as long as mouse movement is literally retarded, because it takes a lot of time for your brain to get used to it.

The problem I’m talking about affects all mouse and touchpads since at least Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. It still exists in Snow Leopard and Lion.

The problem is caused by a bug somewhere at the windowserver level of Mac OS X, and not by a mouse driver. You can supposedly avoid the issue by disabling QuartzExtreme.

The problem is as well closely related to the cursor jumping issue that has alone been fixed in Lion thanks to all our bug reports.

The problem has been confirmed by an Apple engineer. I’ve also heard that they are supposedly working on a solution. The timeframe is unknown though.

More information to follow.

* * *


To put it short:

  • Yes, Mac OS X (any version) is less suited for gaming and design.
  • Lag gives “floating” feeling which is often confused with acceleration.
  • No, you can’t do anything about it other than switch to Windows or Linux.
    Use SmoothMouse.

* * *

SmoothMouse, the long-awaited fix for mouse problems in OS X, has been released.

Further discussion about mouse lag continues on the SmoothMouse Forum.

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220 Responses to The cause for all your Mac OS X mouse annoyances

  1. radomeer says:

    thankfully, somebody else noticed this lag. other mac users thinks i’m insane when always complaining about mouse cursor but i don’t understand how they can’t see it.

    thanks for your job in cursor jumping issue and hoping to solve this one as well.

    • Rush says:

      because most mac users are in denial that anything is wrong with their system

    • Jeremy Hitchcock says:

      Same here, thanks for writing about it. Always thought Windows was a tad more “snappy” but nice to know what’s underlying it.

    • Damir says:

      Agreed. It was like telling people that you saw a UFO. No one believed me and there was no way to prove it. Now I feel a relief and an annoyance with Apple for not paying attention to important details such as these.

      • jesse says:

        lol mouse acceleration on os x > windows. FYI,

        because you were brought up to think that that awfulness is right, doesn’t bother me.

        next you’ll have an article on here about how windows track pads blow mac’s away.

        • fanboysareidiots says:

          you are a true definition of an idiot. did you even READ this blog? a. it’s not even about acceleration b. it’s YOU, in fact, that’s used to something that sucks. most of us on here have both PC’s & Mac’s. man, i hope you use birth control cause there are so many of you dumbasses out there.

    • Soulplayer says:

      I really hate the fact that apple isn’t pushing a fix for these kind of problems. My Logitech G500 works briliantly in windows, but in mac … djeez the lag and the skipping is really annoying. Does someone know if the new os X will fix these kind of bugs?

  2. Igor says:

    Logitech also has acknowledged than as a problem,but seems like Apple just doesn’t care.Looks like also the Mac users are not bothered with this.
    I dont think they will change this.

  3. chris says:

    This is the only reason I don’t use Mac for photoshop… common Apple what the heck.

  4. Martin Williams says:

    I have a macbook air running Mac OSX 10.7.2 and Adobe Reader X v 10.1.1. When moving the cursor over the page using the touchpad or mighty mouse the logic is offset by a couple of centimetres to the left at an angle of 4 o’clock. If the visible cursor is moved to the top of the page it disappears and reappears where the true position is. This is extremely frustrating, has anyone else reported this problem?
    best regards

  5. Stephane Bouvet says:

    This cursor lag drives me crazy since years. But I discovered something interesting. When I use Synergy between my Mac and my PC at work (Synergy server on the PC), the lag completely disappears.

    • fanboysareidiots says:

      hmm, i’m assuming that’s due to your cursor being rendered locally (via PC)

      • PointLuck says:

        It seems to me that the fact that the configuration [synergy server on windows, client on mac] shows no lag, kills all the arguments in this blog. I’m also annoyed with the mouse behaviour of mac os to the point that I can’t use a mouse on a mac. In this configuration it’s clear it can’t be any kind of graphics lag, because what difference is there if mac os gets mouse coordinates from a mouse or over the lag from another machine. In this configuration, the mouse info gets send from the windows machine to the mac machine and is then shown. There is no lag for me in this configuration.

        It’s gonna be interesting to see what happens if we use a mac machine as synergy server and move the mouse over to a windows machine.

        For those who don’t know synergy, it just sends keyboard and mouse information, it’s not something like vnc or anything. It’s not a remote desktop.

        • fanboysareidiots says:

          very interesting stuff. will have to look into that.

        • fanboysareidiots says:

          ok, i just thought about this for a minute… it may be that the lag is not in the rendering (as dae put it here) but somewhere in the universal mouse system – which would explain why your mouse works perfect (very good work-around btw, i’ll be trying this soon) using a windows OS as the server for synergy.

          since you already have the machines hooked up, mind doing a test for us in setting mac as your server & windows as your client?

  6. Ian says:

    Hey all,

    I noticed the problem still persist till today…

    I use a Razer Mamba 4G.

    The frustrating thing happens a lot during games and being a RTS player where some elements of the game require certain “micro-management” i notice the glaring jibber-jabbering of the mouse cursor even more~~ Cursseess~~

    In any case hope some one does fix it.

  7. Gustavo says:

    Just installed Mac os x Lion on a PC and the my Logitech mx revolution cursor (which works flawlessly in windows) was driving me crazy! Thanks God I found this post!! Although I really liked os x, I’m now going back to windows because of that, which i consider totally unacceptable…

  8. CHNinUSA says:

    I just bought the Logitech mx in Amazon, it’s said a perfect mouse, but it turned out to drive me crazy, even worse than my old mouse, I didn’t have the lag problem with Logitech M305 previously. It seems has a very low priority for the mouse driver that whenever there is a intense program running (open a new tab in Chrome) the mouse then drags! do you think Logitech or Apple will fix this? or I will consider return this “perfect” mouse. Thank you!

    • Dae says:

      You will have the windowserver level lag with any mouse in Mac OS X.

      Do you have Logitech Control Center installed? If so, uninstall it and see if it gets any better.

  9. Moa says:

    I’m also experiencing this bug with my new Logitech Anywhere MX. Seems like the best option is to just return it. I’ve got an older, really cheap Logitech mouse that works like a charm, guess I’ll have to stick to that.

    Thanks for your post about this issue, probably saved me a lot of headache! :)

  10. Stephane says:

    A question for Dae:
    how did you do to find the 32 milliseconds ? This is a very accurate result !!

  11. Andreas says:


    Could you provide some links or articles about how the lag was recognized as 32 ms?

    Is there a bug report somewhere? Where does the Apple engineer confirm the problem?

    Information like that would be helpful, thanks.

    • Dae says:

      Hi Andreas,
      I will provide more information in the future, a lot is being done towards that day.

      To put it short, initially it was my theory based primarily on strangeness revealed by a program that we wrote, and then — not long ago — it was confirmed by one of the engineering team leads at Apple in a private email correspondence with me. He also provided the exact value of 32ms, although I thought the lag was smaller.

      I’m sure it’s possible to write a program which would prove the theory, but instead we chose to focus on finding ways to fix the actual issue.

      I filed a bug report #10175417 in September. It’s still open and I haven’t received any response, which is actually a good sign.

      If you’ve more questions, you’re welcome to email at

      We’re also in dire need of C++ programmers.

  12. Dae says:

    I updated the post.

    Quick facts:

    Yes, Mac OS X is less suited for gaming and design.

    — Lag gives “floating” feeling which is often confused with acceleration.

    — No, you can’t do anything about it other than switch to Windows or Linux.

    We’re in need of C++ programmers interested in solving the problem. We already have a solid codebase but we encounter tons of bugs with Apple’s cursor movement API’s, and that is the reason why the fix takes so long to develop. Right now we’re looking for someone willing to experiment and invent workarounds. If you know someone who could be interested, please email me at

  13. Nick F. says:

    My experience is different and yet the same. Specifically – the lag of the mouse is painfully obvious only when using a bluetooth mouse. My MacBook (2008) track pad and my _bluetooth_ magic trackpad both are highly responsive feeling and precise. I have an older USB Microsoft optical mouse … works great on my Mac Pro. But the bluetooth mighty mouse I got with the Mac Pro was simply too laggy to use. I also thought it was an acceleration issue at first, but slowly realized that it was not something resolveable by altering acceleration curves. I thought maybe it was just that mouse. But I have tried other bluetooth mice, including my current Logitech bluetooth travel mouse, and they are all painfully laggy. If I bootcamp into Windows 7, the bluetooth mice work just perfectly fine, so I know it is OS X and not Windows. Ultra-lame issue.

    • Ryan says:

      Bingo! You nailed it right on the head. I’ve tried 3 bluetooth mice too.

    • w0uter says:

      I have a similar experience. When I was still using the Apple Magic Mouse, it drove me crazy for various reasons. Never paid too much attention to the lag because I simply concluded the magic mouse sucks in too many ways (which it does), so I bought a Magic Trackpad (it works better with my cramped workspace anyway). With the trackpad, response is simply perfect, I’d say its much better than using a mouse under linux or windows.

      I have no idea what the technical reasons behind this mouse lag are, but the Magic Trackpad shows it isn’t some fundamental issue with OS X input handling or bluetooth.

  14. Apfeleimer says:

    Even if my curser lagged 3,2 sec. I would NEVER even think of using WinDOS! :D
    Or are the slightly smearing wipers on your new Bentley a reason to buy a Dacia instead? :-P
    Seriously, I never noticed that lag and I spend A LOT of time w. my Macs.

    • Dae says:

      Or are the slightly smearing wipers on your new Bentley

      “Slightly inert steering wheel” would be a more precise metaphor.

      In fact a lot of people don’t notice the problem. Some don’t even notice the jumping bug which makes almost all gaming, high-precise mice useless for OS X.

      Well… I’m happy for them.

      • Antony says:

        When you say a lot of people don’t notice it, I guess you can count me in, because I honestly don’t know what I am looking for that 32ms delay. Personally, I have bigger issue where after connecting to an external display (especially one that has much higher resolution than the 15″ Macbook pro), my mouse cursor would sometimes disappear. I would then have to move my fingers on the touchpad like a mad man, before it magically shows up again. Maybe that’s related to the lag? or simply a case of cursor getting stuck in the bottom of the bigger resolution display.

        Furthermore, when I do connect the Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 6000 (it is a pretty good mouse by the way) to my iMac, I do notice an occasional lag or cursor stuck, but I blame it on nearby wireless interference to the signal from the mouse to its USB dongle.

        Maybe you can update the article with a short experiment for everyone to try it out to notice that 32ms lag?

        • Dae says:

          I think it’s not easy to start noticing the lag out of sudden if you haven’t noticed it before. It’d be interesting to see, however, the reaction of people who don’t notice the lag when they try the fix that we’re currently developing.

    • PC Linux MAC User says:

      I have a Windows machine, a Linux machine, and a Macinto$h. When my friend came over to check her IPOD, I told her to plug it into the mac. Well after a few frustrating minutes, she gave up on the mac and popped it into my Windows machine, which read it immediately! So why can’t mac read their own devices? Everyone brags about their macs ease of use, and plug and play operation. But for us who live in reality, it is easy to see that mac too has its share of problems!

  15. Matthijs says:

    32ms… that sounds like the time taken to display two screen frames at 60 Hz.

    Observation: when I quickly select text using the mouse, there is no lag between the mouse cursor and the selection of text.

    I’m assuming Mac OS X uses double buffering for graphics. Here’s what I think is happening in the worst case:
    1. A frame is drawn onto the back buffer. (current time: 0ms)
    2. You move the mouse just after this is done. (current time: 0ms)
    3. After the next vsync, the back buffer is drawn. (current time: 16ms)
    4. A new frame is drawn onto the back buffer, with the new mouse position. (current time: 16ms)
    5. After the next vsync, the back buffer is drawn. (current time: 32ms)

    If the assumption is correct, this leads to the following conclusions:
    1. The mouse itself does not lag, but merely the graphical representation of it.
    2. Your statement “Yes, Mac OS X is less suited for gaming and design.” is false. All games and design apps use double buffering (or in some cases, triple buffering), otherwise incomplete frames would be shown.

    Regarding Windows: I suspect Windows uses a different, ancient technique to draw the mouse cursor: sprites. With active sprites, the GPU draws them on top of the displayed frame without having to manually draw them into the back buffer. If this is true, selecting text (like the observation above) will result in the selection lagging after the mouse cursor.

    Note: if you have access to a display with a faster refresh rate than 60Hz, you will notice less mouse lag if you use that display. If my assumption is correct, of course.

    • Sean says:

      Precisely correct. All graphics driven by Quartz (OS X’s native rendering engine) are double-buffered, which is why you don’t see the tearing artifacts you generally do in Windows when working with video.

      That said, I believe the cursor drawing happens in hardware, outside of the Quartz pipeline, so maybe the anonymous Apple engineer believes it possible to work around the issue. But the putative 16ms difference between Windows and OS X is half the length of a NTSC frame, well within the threshold of persistence of vision, and no, it’s not noticeable without far more precise equipment than the human eye.

      The more likely reason why Windows users have “some sort of a gut feeling” that the mouse isn’t as snappy on OS X has to do with clicking: OS X sends click events slightly after mouse-up, not on mouse-down.

      • Eugene says:

        Clicking is on mouse up on windows as well. Well, a useful action usually happens on a mouse up. This is a basic UI paradigm and it behaves very similar on any OS. Software gets both mouse up and mouse down events.

      • Dae says:

        it’s not noticeable without far more precise equipment than the human eye.

        The difference could be larger than that.

        But surely I can notice it the next few seconds after I start using the OS.

        OS X has to do with clicking:

        I’m talking about movement lag here.

  16. alex says:

    “Yes, Mac OS X (any version) is less suited for gaming and design.”

    What does this have to do with design work?

    “No, you can’t do anything about it other than switch to Windows or Linux.” … “Right now we’re looking for someone willing to experiment and invent workarounds.”

    So it sounds like you think there *is* something one can do.

    • Dae says:

      Design obviously involves a lot of precise mouse-work. Browsing Facebook and listening to music doesn’t.

      So it sounds like you think there *is* something one can do.

      What I meant to say is that if you have work to do and you can’t stand the lag, you’d be better off switching to Windows or Linux temporarily until a stable fix is found.

      But yes, yesterday we finished the first generally useable version of our fix and I’m using it right now. It feels good, but not completely perfect.

  17. Aaron Jackson says:

    I’ve never noticed this, but now it’s been pointed out it seems fairly obvious. I’ve always enjoyed using the touchpad on MacBook Pros, and no longer do I like an ordinary mouse. I always miss the swipes and two/three finger things. The most annoying thing I have found is in web browsers where it takes you back pages if you swipe with two fingers.

    • Mayson Lancaster says:

      In system preferences, in Trackpad, more gestures, turn off the first one (swipe between pages)

  18. mac user says:

    I’ve used Macs for 20+ years. Never noticed a mouse lag. I never play computer games.

    Can you please explain in detail how this lag manifests itself?

    • Dae says:

      Well… It’s some sort of a gut feeling. You move a mouse and you already expect your cursor to be in desired place but instead it reaches a tiny bit late. It’s annoying.

      I’m sure if I had used Macs all my life I’d have never noticed this.

      • Rob T says:

        Ive heard from other people who migrate from linux/win that the mouse feels toolatent or mushy in osx. Sounda like you juat need to get used to our new overlords.

      • John Adams says:

        First off, where did your timings come from? How did you calculate this delta and land on the 32mS number?

        As someone who spends an incredible amount of time dealing with audio and video work (on macs, primarily), I have to say that while you may have discovered an apparent ‘lag’ in the mouse motion, going as far as to say that it renders the system useless for “design and gaming” is pretty specious to say the least.

        Around 7-10mS is the threshold for people identifying differences in audio. The human eye is far slower. We’re able to perceive changes at very fast speeds (say, 200fps) but at that rates we’re only able to see extremely high contrast changes in images.

        At 32mS you’re talking around 3 frames of video, so that should basically be imperceptible. Maybe you’re using a bluetooth mouse which is adding additional transmission lag, or you’re not accounting for the acceleration algorithm used for mouse movement.

        WRT to switching to linux or windows – it’s possible the defaults for that OS have the mouse acceleration set faster than (IMHO) the slow mac default speed.

        • Dae says:

          My timings come from an Apple engineer who confirmed that the mice in OS X “tend to lag behind the screen by a full refresh” and also said that he’s working on a fix.

          renders the system useless

          Where did I say that? I said that it is less suited, but certainly not useless.

          but at that rates we’re only able to see extremely high contrast changes in images.

          Great — it looks like we’re also approaching a biological breakthrough here.

        • Alejandro says:

          I’m a professional designer. This lag is very noticeable and makes precise design work very tedious. I’d be mucho more productive were it not for this lag.

          Thanks Dae for posting and going on a quest to fix this.

  19. Terlisimo says:

    I hate you.

    I did notice something diFFerent about Mac’s mouse feel, couldn’t really put my finger on it.

    Now that I know it’s a technical issue it will annoy me to no end.

  20. Stuart says:

    I’ve noticed this lag as well, however I’ve always chalked it up to ‘blutooth’ overhead/lag.
    I’ve been using the Logitech Anywhere MX, that comes with it’s own proprietary transceiver, which seems to perform much smoother for me.

  21. aristidesfl says:

    fix this please

  22. Eugene says:

    Finally! Every mac user I complained to about this looked at me like I was crazy. (I thought it was acceleration problem too.) I am vindicated!

    I exclusively use macs through VNC because of this.

    • w0uter says:

      You’re kidding right? Please tell me you are not actually using macs through VNC because of a 30 something millisecond mouse lag, because that sounds like taking your bike to work, because your car takes longer to accelerate from 0 to 10 mph :-/

      • Dae says:

        I have been using Synergy for months because of this issue.

        • msp says:

          Can I ask how you’re using Synergy? Are you using a complete PC setup (CPU/keyboard/mouse) as a client and a Mac as the server? Or is there some other way of using this software that I can’t figure out?

          • Dae says:

            Yes, I used a netbook with Ubuntu as a Synergy server and my Mac ran Synergy client. Perhaps it is possible to host Synergy server in a VM on the same physical machine, but I haven’t managed to do that with Parallels Desktop 6.

            The entire idea, however, is dead simple: to use something to force system move cursor as often as mouse updates.

      • Eugene says:

        Nope, not kidding. The mouse thing is very annoying (for me). I constantly work on windows/linux machines and switching to mac is jarring. I was suspecting my KVM is at fault, but connecting directly has the same feel.

        Actually my problem still might be with acceleration (or rather deceleration): no matter what I tried with acceleration settings I couldn’t stop cursor from slowing down considerably at some threshold. Normally I can move mouse across 2 monitors from side to side in one movement. And the speed is not very different if I move fast or slow. On mac I would be forced to _lift_ the mouse (the horror!) to do some precision moves, because I run out of surface to navigate some 20 damn pixels! Moving cursor at average speeds felt just fine though.

  23. Yehat says:

    Initially the mouse handling in OS X was very confusing (for a guy coming from Linux and Windows), but found how to deal with, however my setup is very un-Apple, in order to guess how this replicates.
    I’m on a hackintosh, using Logitech MX620 (wireless) and before using USB Overdrive, the mouse handling was driving me crazy – acceleration, cursor jumps… Tuning the speed and acceleration in USB Overdrive – now works as I expect.

  24. ElricVIII says:

    Is this why when I tried giving Starcraft II a go it felt so “off” in terms of mouse control? (I guess so. [I hope there’s no SC2 tryhards around because they’ll just say it’s because I suck.])

  25. Nick says:

    Having my macbook pro hooked up to the same KVM as my windows 7 machine and switching instantly between them, this is so noticeable it hurts. Naturally my mac using friends never notice it, because it’s what they’re used to. I’ve been told that the mouse acceleration is different on a mac, but even when trying USB overdrive and other tweaking apps it still just seems *laggy*. Thanks for confirming this! hopefully someone fixes it.

    • Dae says:

      Thanks for your comment, Nick. We’re working on a fix.

      • Thoris says:

        How far off is the fix? Do you need any help?

        • Dae says:

          We fixed one of the major issues last week (caused by Apple’s buggy API). We’ve got to fix incompability with the latest Lion and we’ll release the alpha version.

          It will feature just one slider to control the sensivity. People who got used to non-linear acceleration curves will need to wait a bit more.

          We definitely would use any help, especially from:

          Geeks. People with IT/CS/math/physics background interested in getting smooth and bug-free mouse movement. Not necessarily programmers. People with some understanding of how the OS works. People who won’t fear theorizing about all those bugs.

          Objective C programmers who worked with Apple package manager, Sparkle and preference panes.

          Let’s be friends, I don’t bite! :-)

          • Anh-Kiet Ngo says:

            What is the status of the release? I am waiting feverishly for this :). I’ve been back on this blog post every week just to scour for your comments regarding the release date.

            I have a limited understanding of OS, so I doubt I can be of any help to you.

  26. Orion Edwards says:

    Hrm… I’ve played mac versions of Call of Duty, Starcraft II, and various other things, and while graphics performance on OSX is certainly lower than windows via bootcamp, I’ve never noticed any mouse skipping or lag issues.

    I used to be a hardcore quake 3 player back in the day, and while I wasn’t the best, I could most certainly tell the difference between playing on a LAN and with a 30ms internet conneciton lag, so I’m pretty confident I’d notice a lag as large as 32ms on mouse tracking!

    One note: While I’ve used mice from Apple, Microsoft and Logitech for gaming on the mac, I’ve *NEVER* installed any custom mouse software. Are you sure this is not just something to do with crappy logitech custom drivers or something?

    • Igor says:

      If you dont notice the lag good for you.
      For my self this is #1 problem with Mac OS.
      Good to know that someone is working on this.

  27. Michael Brian Bentley says:

    I’m playing with it now. There’s no noticeable delay. I have noticed in the past how the first keypress in a while would get dropped, but that no longer appears to be a problem as I haven’t seen it in weeks.

    One thing I do notice is that when I move the mouse from being stationary, the mouse cursor updates do not update fast enough to provide the perception of smooth movement; I see (on this laptop) the cursor, then the cursor to the right by 1/2 inch, then another half inch to the right, and so on.

  28. Miles Jacob says:

    I used the Mac OS for 20 years. When I discovered this bug about 5 years ago I switched to XP. There is no issue more important than “lag” in all of computing to me (it ruins many many 360 and PS3 games as well). Given how little people seem to care it seems I’ll be sticking with 1990s-era game consoles and operating systems and analog CRTs till the day I die.

  29. Eric Ripa says:

    Great article, simple explanation and really good news that you’re working on a fix for this annoying little issue!

    Gaming sure is affected by this. Myself I’m kind of used to switching between my Windows work laptop and my Macs so it’s not a big issue for me, but I would love to see it fixed once and for all.. I would love to have a more “eager” mouse in OS X.

  30. Alejandro says:

    So does the newest version of Lion fix the issue?

  31. Nerfgun says:

    Well that’s surprising.

    I run an almost ideal setup for testing this: a new iMac, with a magic mouse. I also Boot Camp the thing into Windows, where I switch to a Logitech MX Revolution mouse, for Steam gaming. On the Mac side I do design work in the Adobe suite daily, Photoshop and a lot of video editing.

    If you are claiming there is a frame of difference between the two in responsiveness… I sure as hell have never seen it.

    The way you word this post (the sweeping dismissal) makes it pretty clear you just found some vague, obscure talking point and feel like swinging it around for a bit. It’s your blog. But I there are better things to pick on in OS X than this.

    • Dae says:

      Nothing annoys me more than lag in OS X.

      I didn’t really want to spend my time opening people’s eyes on the problem, because it’s pointless. You either see it or you don’t. Even if I provided undisputable evidence, there would be sceptics who’d say that it’s not a bug but a feature. Or Mac way, think different and all that shit.

      And this post was dedicated to those who see it, but not sure what is it exactly and how to name it.

      • Forest says:

        Although the lag on cursor feels funny when using mouse, it does help in improving precision while using trackpad (Uh, gaming on Mac OSX using trackpad? I don’t think so.)

        I would say:
        Use a trackpad on Mac OS X but definitely not mouse.
        Use a mouse on windows but definitely not a trackpad because the latter is too sensitive.

  32. pixartist says:

    If you’re on a PC and wanna know what 32 ms mouse-lag feels like, I made a tiny XNA app which simulates it:

  33. Dominik says:

    Daedalus, is it possible that some mouses do NOT have this problem?

    I consider myself extremely picky on mouses , I’m a designer, I was a heavy FPS player, I was a long-time Windows user, now 5 years on Mac OS, and I’m also switching between Windows and Mac and I just can’t notice the lag.

    The cursor in Windows seems smoother (feels like it flows on on a higher frame-rate) but I always assumed it’s related to a different driver configuration and sensitivity under Windows which I was never able to match with my Mac OS settings.

    Is this the problem?

    I’m using Logitech MX1000 mouses since they were released, I think 2006.

  34. Anentropic says:

    I used Windows since the 90s, switched to Mac last year

    I honestly can’t notice any mouse lag

    While reading this post I’ve been waving my mouse around madly and it seems simultaneous on screen. (OS X Lion, current Mac Mini)

    That said I never play any FPS shooters, maybe you’ve made your hand-eye coordination sense hyper-sensitive through excessive gaming… :)

  35. Per says:


    Im used to linux and windows and bought my first mac yesterday. after an hour on the magic mouse (where I actially didn’t notice much problem) I ditched it because of a sore hand (its a mysterie to me how people can actually do real work with this crappy mouse?) and missing middle key in Blender. I connected my logitech m705 marathon and 10 minuttes later my first impression of Apple was ruined and i was Googling about usb overdrive and whatever. I will probably return the imac again because of this – its simply hard for me to hit small details such as single pixels or the window frame buttons. Compared to how well touch and inertial movements is handled by Apple products, I had the impression that these things were 1st priorities … but apperently not.

  36. counter says:

    this 32msec always makes me satisfied: Yes I’m using Mac!!

  37. alvin says:

    Hi, I’ m here at my MBpro 17 with logitech wired mouse attached (but same story with magic mouse) and I can literally move the mouse very very slowly phisically and have it not moving at all on the screen. I think the problem is that the first micro movements are always not received by the Mac…a lag in fact as Dae correctly explained…Its 2 years since I have the mac and alternating its use and win xp its clear the difference in both systems: but you HAVE to try Win to understand the problem: and if many people around the world are experiencing this weird thing..mmhh..I dont think its a conspiracy..just a different mouse behaviour that makes me (and others) use PS on Win instead on a Mac..

  38. ejik says:

    I switched to Mac recently after using Win over 6 years as a graphic designer. The difference in mouse behavior is obvious and simply drove me crazy at the same beginning. Hopefully, it’s not the kind of thing, you can’t get accustomed to, but still annoying… for sure Windows handles mouse a way better then Mac.

    I wish you to fix that bug soon!

  39. Andreas says:

    Hi Dae,

    What’s the time frame on this fix you’re working on?

    Will it be usable for games and so on?

    • Dae says:

      There is no exact date. There are a few bugs and we’ve gotta polish it.

      It has been confirmed to be working perfectly with various games including StarCraft II and resource intensive and complex apps like Parallels Desktop.

  40. Eric Muyser says:

    I’ve been using Mac for 2 years now and there’s obviously more than a few bugs in Apple’s mouse code. Having come from Ubuntu (super snappy) and Windows, it is easily noticed. It’s the skipping and rare disappearing that are frustrating. The perceived lag (whether a bug or a draw delay) I can deal with but it could be causing other issues. Of course, I switched to the touchpad and avoid the mouse like the plague. Vim and all that.

  41. Martin says:


    I too have noticed this ‘lag’ when I switched from a PC to my Mac Pro 4 years ago. My GF is a hardcore Mac user and she thought I was crazy when I complained about the mouse. That, or she thought my Logitech Revolution mouse sucked.

    Anyway, this bug is sooooo annoying to the point that using Photoshop is so inefficient compared to using it on my PC at work. I’m buying a tablet to have better control in PS, but I do hope you come up with a fix for mouse soon.

  42. Jordan says:

    Misery loves company, so I’d just like to pitch in my word of support for fixing this issue. To echo so many of you, doing any kind of precise mousing in OSX is misery. I’ve been through over a dozen different mice since switching to Mac, and of course, nothing has helped.

    Thank you guys so much for working on this, I’m checking this blog post frequently to see what happens. I would absolutely pay money for any sort of patch you guys come up with, if that is any incentive. :)

    It’s just a shame that a company [Apple] that’s home to so many incredible engineers and products can ship out their flagship operating system with a bug this critical and annoying.

    • Fox says:

      The thing is that NO Apple Fan Boy will ever complain since they will never confirm that they spent a lot of money for a system that is less good working that a cheap Windows PC.

      The only thing on OSX which is superior to Windows is that it is a little but more visually fine tuned.

      Some years ago I saved all my money to finally be able to escape the buggy non working windows world.

      I bought an Apple G5.
      At the beginning I was so happy and I ignored the first crashes…
      But if they get complemented with annoying Hardware issues it was enough for me to sell it.

      In the Studio (Music) I am now using a Windows PC since it is just more reliable than any Mac I ever had. I still have a MBP tho, but I rarely use it.

  43. Niclas Hansson says:

    I got a Mac Mini in october -11 and installed Starcraft 2 immediately.
    I set all the graphics and so on to the lowest.

    I tried a LOT of mouse fixing programs, but NEVER got rid of the annyoing delay, which is most noticable when you click precise and fast (unit selection and command execution).
    That clicking delay was dricing me so nuts that I bought Windows 7 and installed on my Mac.

    Now I’m thinking of getting a new computer (able to play games) but I’m straying away from iMac because of this issue.

    I REALLY hope there is a way to fix this, because I will happily buy a brand new iMac and play games on it if it is fixable. (even though the frame rate is a bit lower).

    Thanks for your work on fixing this issue so far.

    / Niclas

  44. veggiedude says:

    There is no ‘mouse lag’ on Macs – I have been using Macs since 1989 and have never experienced anything of the sort.

  45. Igor says:

    Any news,can you tell us how far in development did you get?

  46. Ritesh says:

    Thanks for figuring this out Dae! After having worked on a macbook white for over a year I got back to the windows platform because of this issue. Contrary to what other people say, “getting used it” just did not happen for me. And mind you, during that time I almost exclusively worked on a mac.

    Also booting in to windows (bootcamp) made the difference in mouse behavior very clear, even the crappy “mighty mouse” became very usable in combination with windows.

    I envy the people who claim to notice no difference at all, they are either lightning fast in adapting or just too slow to pick up on it.

  47. Winston says:

    Yes! This is something that has bothered me for years and I can’t wait for your fix to come out. I find that on a Mac, I can only stand to use either a wired mouse or a really good wireless mouse. I just got a Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX and it seems as usable as a wired mouse — my previous wired mouse was a Logitech G9. Before that I had a VX Revolution, and the lag really irritated me. The Bluetooth mice I’ve tried were even worse.

    The funny thing is that when I plug the same mice into a Windows XP machine sitting right next to the Mac, they feel totally different. The VX Revolution is great in Windows, and the Anywhere MX and G9 are even better.

  48. nishelo says:

    at last, someone spotted this!

    Just ridiculous not to be able to use a mouse! Bought a Logitech M510, installed every driver I could but still doesn’t behave as smooth and precise as the touchpad! Still, the same mouse on a my office windows desktop just works fine. I really hope this will get fixed soon… Thanks for spotting the real problem!

  49. Joe says:

    I run boot-camp. I can guarantee there is lag on the OSX but not Windows 7. I have tried many many mice and different softwares but that FLOATING feeling is always there on the Mac side but not the Windows 7. I have been an avid fan of Mac since way back. Classic never did this. I do not remember early versions of OSX doing it but I may not been aware of it. But let me tell you it annoys the hell out of me now. I am glad others have noticed it too. Now if Apple would just do something about it. I am going to link this blog on apples support forums in hopes it will be noticed.

  50. Nauris says:

    Great to see I’m not alone with this annoying mouse lag! I have burned about 150 € in different mouses and mouse apps… I can eliminate or alter the acceleration curve as I wish, but still the mouse feels “floating” and inaccurate.

    When I bootcamp to Windows 7 the mouse is snappy and accurate and I feel I need much less effort to really do something. And yes, this has nothing to do with the acceleration curves as I don’t use any in either OS.

    This is the only reason I’m still thinking about returning to Windows. I would be extremely happy if this would be fixed, though I don’t have my hopes too high.

  51. Jay says:

    I am still experiencing jumpiness with Razer naga hex and 1000 polling rate. I am running last version on LION 10.7.3. Seems like issue is still not resolved.

  52. Jasso says:

    I’ve been annoyed by the lag since I started using macs in 2007. You have no idea how glad I am that it is finally getting eliminated!

    For me the lag is noticeable in desktop use but really hurting in games, especially StarCraft 2. I have Razer gaming mouse and the drivers really help with the weird acceleration curve, but lag is still there no matter what.

  53. Jay says:

    I think i found the solution if turn polling rate to 125 on razer mouses it seems to work much better.

  54. Jack says:

    Is there any update on the fix? I am glad to have found other people with the same problem :)

  55. cab says:

    This is driving me nuts. Honestly hate my mac for design. I only got it for the iOS SDK and it’s brutal. I find there’s a lack of organization too, but I’m also used to Windows and Linux’s (Gnome shell) beautiful task bars. I can’t get used to this mouse thing, though. I keep over/undershooting everything I want to click.

    • Dae says:

      The problem I’m talking about is not about bluetooth lag. Bluetooth lag adds up to the window server lag.

    • Joe says:

      I am not using blue tooth, it happens with wired and wireless mice. I am not experiencing jumpy quirkiness, just a floaty feeling like the cursor is never where I need it. Many people might not even notice it but I assure I do.

  56. Dan says:

    Ok, not sure why this hasn’t been brought up, but seem to be a few flaws in the blog’s argument about lag, namely:

    1) Wacom Intuos Tablets. If there existed lag on the software side of Mac OSX that affects mouse precision, then how does a Wacom tablet manage perfect 1 to 1 movement (which, for anybody who hasn’t used a Wacom on a Mac, it IS one to one, and Wacom itself frequently shows off its products using Macs). I’ve also used Wacom tablets on Windows workstations as well, and they feel identical on both (thats the whole reason Wacom is the leader in tablets).

    2) Check this out:

    Like many others who are here looking for an answer, I first started asking “wtf is up with the mouse movement” with regards to gaming, in particular Starcraft 2. I tried a few different “mouse fix” applications, nothing felt right (by right, I mean nothing felt like the mouse functionality I get playing SC2 on windows, even using the same mouse).

    Then I found this post, and gave this one a shot. And wow, its really, really good. Mouse movement feels the most “windows like” than ever before in my experience.

    I can’t say for certain whether this IS the answer and DOES fix everything, and I’m not sure how to even approach methodically testing this (windows machine is a desktop, much higher resolution monitor, more mouse space, etc.), but give that download a shot.

    So yea, just my thoughts on this. The lag idea is interesting, but I’m not sure how that works when you throw the Wacom thing into the equation. In the end, maybe it really is a lack of full control over acceleration, and the only fixes have been to literally recreate an additional, inverse acceleration curve to cancel the first one? I dunno. Just a thought. ;)

    • Dae says:

      Thanks for interest, but I don’t see your point here:

      then how does a Wacom tablet manage perfect 1 to 1 movement

      First of all, you can have a 1:1 movement (when 1 device unit movement gives 1 pixel on-screen movement) with a cursor which lags for… hours. (E.g. you’re controlling your mouse from the Moon or Mars with a shitty radio channel ;-)

      Secondly, Wacoms normally require a 3rd party driver which may work on a userspace level (I don’t know, just guessing), pushing cursor movements without the help of HID subsystem and windowserver, thus avoiding the problem.

      Robert Randolph’s fix doesn’t fix the lag. In the last email letter to me, Robert seem to have agreed about existence of lag in the system.

      I’d like to repeat this once again: the problem has been confirmed by Apple.

      • Dan says:

        Interesting, I know what you mean about lag still being present, even though its 1 to 1 movement. I can see where you’re coming from, and really, I can’t say for certain that Wacom tablets don’t exhibit some lag. My only frame of reference is that I use one on both Windows and Mac platforms (the same tablet model), and the feel is identical, no mental readjustment to compensate for a feeling of “floaty-ness” or anything (which IS the feeling I have when I go from using a mouse on Windows vs. a mouse on Mac).

        Regarding the problem being confirmed by Apple: is there a link to the reply or post where this was discovered? Or was this an off-the-record kind of thing that occurred over the phone? If you have a link to the post or e-mail reply, that would rock. Regardless, I can believe it, if only for the “we’re working on a fix” ray of hope (a future of no “workarounds” or curve adjustment nonsense)! ;D

  57. Pingback: CPng:N – Mac OS X Mouse Issues

  58. Roee says:

    Why using Synergy solves this problem?

  59. msp says:

    I am a designer/illustrator and have been using a Mac and a mouse to create artwork (primarily drawing with vectors in Adobe Illustrator) for more than 20 years. Ever since the switch to OSX, I have had issues with the precision of the cursor movement, particularly when attempting to stop the cursor at a specific point after moving it some distance across the screen. I was never aware of this odd behavior in all the time I worked on the previous versions of the Mac OS. I have tried a number of acceleration-curve utilities, but none of them seemed to help. Thanks for pursuing this problem, which has driven me crazy for years and years (to the point that I thought it was entirely in my imagination). I only hope that some sort of real solution can be figured out.

    Also, glad to hear that a component of the OSX mouse issue was fixed in Lion (the skipping bug), but unfortunately, I’m stuck with Snow Leopard until I can afford a new computer. Figures.

  60. DY says:

    Using synergy ( to control the mac mouse pointer through a windows machine makes the movement feel exactly like it should. Therefore it seems the issue has nothing to do with rendering as you suggest. Hopefully this can be resolved soon. Someone should start a kickstarter project!

  61. DY says:

    Looking back through the comments it seems things are further along than I thought. I just want to ask you guys to please make any fix also compatible with snow leopard.

  62. gorz says:

    Aah, that’s what it is. I just bought my first Mac (mini) and connected a logitech M705, and couldn’t understand why it felt so sluggish even after fiddling with the acceleration curves.

    So..I just have to get used to this? Feh..

  63. Jimd says:

    I have actually sustained an RSI as a result of this! Used Windows for decades in IT. Switched to a mac about 13 months ago and doing spreadsheets / powerpoint / email all day, and the mouse movement difference, combined with some low budget microsoft mice has caused me constant lower arm pain! Very similar to golfer’s elbow.

    Using PCs for work and gaming (old time Quake III player) for years never anything wrong. The mouse movement / lag / acceleration curve what ever thing is now causing me pain to the point where it hurts to lift anything! Wonder of Apple would fix this in the face of a class-action lawsuit.

  64. Jeff Waugh says:

    Did you ever ship the “fix”?

  65. hede cukubok says:

    Did anyone have the chance to try out mountain lion? I wonder if it’s solved.

  66. Hawkeye101 says:


    I just found this article and have been reading the comments as well. I’m not quite sure how to describe what I’m experiencing with my mice on Mac OS X, but the best word I can come up with (others have used this as well) is “floating”. When I move the mouse, the cursor just doesn’t seem/feel right. It’s perfectly usable, but the cursor just feels like it’s floating. I recently bought the Logitech G500 which is wired and it has the floating feel as well. I tried it on a Windows PC and the cursor movement was absolutely perfect, it felt right. No floating feeling or anything.

    The weird thing is I only noticed this because I had to replace a Logitech Performance Mouse MX and when I went to use the new one I immediately felt the floating cursor thing. I have no idea why I never noticed this before, and now that I have it’s really annoying.

    I saw in the comments that you guys are working on a fix. Any update regarding that?

  67. abc says:

    The best way I found of mitigating this problem is using a mouse with enough DPI to be able to set the Tracking Speed slider to the minimum.

    • Jordan says:

      What mouse do you use, abc?

      • abc says:

        I was using a Logitech G500 but I got rid of it. Now I use mostly the trackpad, and when I need to, a Microsoft WMO 1.1 which doesn’t have enough DPI to do what I said.(

        I’ve been considering a Steelseries Sensei Raw Rubberized though, but at the same time would like something without a cable. (

        • msp says:

          I’ve tried setting tracking speed to a minimum using high dpi settings on my current mouse (it’s adjustable from 100-5600 dpi), and it doesn’t fix the problem.

          I do know that the polling rate on this mouse is higher than 250hz, which seems to make the cursor jumping issue worse compared to my past Apple mice.

          • abc says:

            I like the shape and look of it. Unfortunately there aren’t many good choices when it comes to mice. Most of them seem over hyped and over designed..

        • Igor says:

          I wouldn’t use Steelseries mouse,i used Xai and it works terrible on OS X.
          Only one that i find useable is Logitech Performance MX.
          And without Logitech drivers.
          But its not perfect eater.

          • abc says:

            It seems mac support is on the way:

          • msp says:

            Steelseries has told me that they are releasing OS X-compatible software in September that will allow you to adjust the polling rate of their mice (or at least on the Kinzu V2, which is the one I asked about) down to 250hz for better Mac compatibility. If you like their mice, you might want to check the status of the software in a few months.

          • abc says:

            I like the shape and look of it. Unfortunately there aren’t many good choices when it comes to mice. Most of them seem over hyped and over designed..

          • Igor says:

            Yes that true,there aren’t many that look good.
            I settled for Performance MX because of well performance. :)
            But i hate the design.
            I heard a rumor that new Apple bluetooth 4 mouse is coming in a week.So maybe its something that it wont f’ up your hand now. :)

  68. ar says:

    Cool, man! I have had a G4 Powerbook back in the days and got annoyed to death by this exact problem! Combined with the bluetooth mouse, it’s been hell! Recently, I went to a apple store – looking into buying a mac again – and checked the exact same problem out and found it still exists :(. It gives a really annoying, unnatural feel to using a Mac! Hope you guys can sort this out!

  69. sintacks says:

    I have been waiting YEARS!

    Start a kickstarter project, get paid!

    32ms is crazy, I’m a sound guy, and any percussive instrument is impossible to play accurately with that latency.

  70. abc says:

    I doubt the comments in this post are being heard at apple. If every person who posted a comment had send a complain as well, maybe the problem would have been take care of by now.

    You can do it here:
    Don’t forget including a reference to this blogpost

    • Igor says:

      This problem exist for years.You dont think a lot people already have submitted

    • nishelo says:

      done! though it may be a drop into the ocean…

    • brent jardine says:

      This is my first mac ,just spent a wack on it and to have this little problem be such a big problem ,why are they not fixing this I am Pissed!!!!! i already submitted to them as you requested,thanks for your research so far regards brent j canada
      the way i see it they could fix this problem by using someone else’s technology its either ego or money seems to be the longstanding issue here=Lets sue them!

  71. Mouse says:

    Hi all:
    I realy just can recomend to get a Microsoft mouse for the mac. The feeling gets close to the Windows experience, every other mouse so far did not work near as smooth. Hope they fix this error as soon as possible.

    • nishelo says:

      do you mean the brand? Any “Microsoft” mouse?

      • Mouse says:

        I already tested two kind of microsoft mouses, therefore I guess that all of them come with the nice fact of working “windows-like”

    • Dae says:

      IntelliPoint is not much different from USB Overdrive, SteerMouse and even simpler solutions. But if it makes you feel better, good… :-)

  72. Frustrated iMac/CAD user says:

    My office just switched from an old windows system to brand new iMacs with Lion installed.
    I’ve been an AutoCAD/PC user for almost 20 years.. Currently we are trying out AutoCAD mac on our new iMacs and I also have Parallels sets up to run AutoCAD 2012 through Windows 7 on the same iMac.
    I also have my old PC running XP pro, set up next to my new iMac with AutoCAD 2011 installed on it.
    In addition for about 5 years I have used an older iMac at home with Parallels and Windows XP installed. I’ve run AutoCAD on my home system off and on and have always experienced the strange mouse behavior. I always assumed it had something to do with my home set up. I bought a Razar mouse when I first set the iMac up thinking it had something to do with the mac mouse. I made sure to use a wired mouse in case the issues resulted from the ‘weight’ of a battery operated wireless mouse. I bought a special gaming mouse pad with a high speed surface to try to speed things up. I set all of the tracking speeds to fastest in both OSx and /Parallels Windows. Nothing worked. My office Microsoft mouse on a piece of cardboard on my office PC felt smoother and better.
    The minute I got my new setup running at my office (last week) I noticed the exact same mouse problem and for the first time realized that the sluggish feeling I had always experienced on my iMac was not a problem restricted to my home set up.
    At work I first tried the magic mouse (a whole set of ergonomic issues on it’s own, what a terrible design for drafting). Then I bought a new wired Microsoft mouse. And I even switched my ancient Microsoft wired mouse over to the new iMac. Same problem across the board.
    Running the mouse across the screen on my ancient windows pc feels so much smoother then running it across the screen on my iMac. I actually ran a mouse across both screens simultaneously. Definite difference. I’m so frustrated. Drawing for hours on end I mostly use the mouse. Not much keyboard use is required for AutoCAD. I do not know how I am going to get used to the difference. It really bothers me and actually affects the way my arm feels as I tend to ‘push’ the mouse a little more on the iMac to try to get a response, which I realize makes no difference.
    Anyhow, glad to find that it’s not just me but very saddened to find that there is really no solution. I literally find it more pleasurable to draw on the pc then on the mac which is terrible as I love everything else about the mac 100% more.
    What I am doing most of the day is drawing so this is a real problem.
    Just thought I’d add my voice to those who have experienced this very real issue.

      • Frustrated iMac/CAD user says:

        Thanks for the link. I always do complain to the source.
        I decided to post here to add my voice to this thread because it helped me to find this thread and read about others experiences with the problem as I was beginning to think it was just me.

    • Igor says:

      Its very annoying but you get use to it after a while.
      It took me about a year to get use to it.

      • Frustrated iMac/CAD user says:

        Are you using CAD software as well?

        • Igor says:

          No i use mostly Photoshop for Web Design work,but 99% of time i am using the mouse for that kind of work.
          So its not that different…
          For me now it feels almost the same when i work on Mac,but i still notice the difference when i work on Windows computer.
          But it was painful year. :)

  73. Wellington Chaves says:


    **specially those who have mac mini**

    After a week with this very annoying lag in the mouse and researching on the internet, I found out the root cause of my issue.
    It can be a problem in your monitor/TV specially if you are using mac mini with hdmi cable. Those tv’s default setting for hdmi is cinema/music or another preset slow for computers. So you have to update the tv for games or computer, something faster!

    I realized this couldn’t be a software issue, since I have used Hackintosh for years, and the same wireless mouse didn’t have any lag, even in the very same version of OS X.

    So, try that! Good luck!


    • Jordan says:

      Interesting observation regarding your experience with your Hackintosh. Are you sure mouse movement felt no different when using OS X on that hardware?

      Regardless, I’m not sure this is the same problem the rest of us are reporting, as it can be experienced on pure Apple hardware and screens, including modern iMacs and MacBook Pros.

    • Dae says:

      This is a software issue, and it’s possible to fix it with a software solution (such as Synergy, try and see yourself).

      The lag, however, is interrelated to the screen refresh rate, and it’s bigger and more noticeable on TVs which often enforce lower refresh rate than the computer monitors.

  74. Fabious says:

    For God Sake I’m not alone !!

    My short story :
    Bought an imac, returned it after a week trying to solve this issue with app, with no success.

    I told it to some mac forums and all the answers i get is “it’s you, not os x”.
    I find it so unbelievable that mac users don’t admit that’s the mouse algorithm on os x feels like SHIT (seriously), i’m a hardcore gamer and even when not playing the mouse lag is so f**** unbearable !

    Damn i really think that mac users who are happy with the mouse are total noobs or never have used windows. Seriously u can’t admit it is “normal” !
    I can make my works two times more efficiently and precisely on windows only cause of that !

    Mac OS X is a GREAT os, but the mouse lag make it so frustating, windows is by far more pleasant to use because of that !

    If you can fix this shit, then i will buy a imac again, not until then.

  75. Andykins says:

    Is it still present in 10.8 mountain lion?

  76. I also want to know.

  77. Beep says:

    @Frustrated iMac/CAD user
    Try wacom tablet (bamboo works great) instead of mouse. No lag and stupid acceleration. Of you have to use mouse try controller mate app where you can draw your own acceleration curve.

  78. John Carmack says:

    You can measure all this objectively. I took a few minutes, pulled out my handy high speed camera, and shot some quick video dragging a window around on my windows desktop and my old macbook. I used the same mouse, a Razer DeathAdder, on both systems.

    Someone with more time should do a more exhaustive set of tests with a tripod and a trivial app instead of window dragging to make the data cleaner, but the results are so dramatically different that it isn’t a matter of splitting hairs.

    Even being generous with exactly which frame the mouse started moving on, I never counted less than 10 frames (at 240 hz = 42 milliseconds) and sometimes as many as 17 from the time the mouse moved to the time the pixels on the screen started to change. I’m sure this is better on a more modern system.

    The PC result was surprising. I was running on a 120hz monitor, and I couldn’t positively identify any frames of latency between the mouse starting to move and pixels on the screen changing.

    The mac does tear-free, retrace-synced desktop compositing, which means that a window at the bottom of the screen will always update 14 milliseconds later than one at the top of the screen due to a 60hs scanout. I don’t know the internal details, but it is possible that there may be a full frame of latency involved in latching the stable output of each window in preparation for the compositor, which would roughly line up with the observed data.

    The windows system (not running with Aero, which is probably significant here!) apparently gets a new mouse update ever 2 milliseconds and moves the window immediately. This is why you get tear lines while dragging windows, and there were other temporal repainting artifacts visible in the high speed video.

    Apple made a (presumably) conscious decision to sacrifice responsiveness for perfect pixels.

    Again, someone could make a more direct comparison of similarly configured systems and write a real article about the results. It is also possible (likely?) that full screen 3D apps may bypass the desktop compositing and not suffer from any of this.

  79. Dustin says:

    Anyone tried using “Quartz Debug” to disable “Beam Sync” and see if this issue still persists?

    @Chuj Windows Aero is what MS named the desktop compositor that was introduced in Vista. Since Windows Aero, like OSX’s Quartz Extreme, forces v-sync it would very possibly exhibit the exact same behavior that people here are experiencing in OSX.

  80. Dustin says:

    I’ve been switching between Macs and PCs since the early nineties and I can tell you there’s always been a difference between how fast the mouse movement “feels” between both operating systems. Macs have always used a logarithmic acceleration curve to determine the speed of the cursor. Windows does not (by default). This leads to native Windows users believing the mouse on Macs feels slow and sluggish where as a native Mac user finds the Windows mouse behavior to fast and overly sensitive. Dae fits into the former category.

    Rather than doing what the rest of us have done and naturally adjust to the difference, Dae has gone on a personal crusade to make the mouse behavior on Macs behave just like it does on Windows. Meanwhile finding every possible obscure little issue with the mouse regardless if it’s an issue or not.

    The word “lag” is highly ambiguous and it’s hard to know what it means other than “I don’t like it.” I’ve seen people complain about mouse lag on both MacOS and Windows but have never experienced it myself. That does not mean it does not exist. We all speak english here, we aren’t all using the same language. So when you say “lag” someone might think “jerky”, another person might think “sluggish” and another would scratch his head unable to find a connection.

    • Dae says:

      Dae fits into the former category.

      I can easily adjust to OS X acceleration curve as long as cursor doesn’t lag as much.

      Unlike acceleration, lag (when I say lag I imply a delay between physical movements and on-screen changes) is a big problem, not just a matter of preference. Surely you can adjust to it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem.

      Imagine a pen with ink which appears after minutes. Do you think it would be as easy for a child to learn writing with such a pen (compared to a normal pen)? Don’t you think it would be, at least, annoying?

      Or perhaps better example. Do you think it would be easy and safe to drive a car if it didn’t react to steer wheel movement instantly?

      Windows does not (by default).

      Not true, by default it uses logarithmic acceleration which can be turned off by unticking “enhance pointer precision”.

    • Fox says:

      So how do I switch the Mouse Curve on OSX that It feels like on Windows?

  81. Adriano Monecchi says:

    I just can’t believe that! I just bought a brand new Magic Mouse to use on Mountain Lion on (a 2012 Core i7 Mac Mini) and when I’m executing any app which requires more memory the Magic Mouse becomes extremely slow! I first noticed this while download a 1.8 GB software update bundle on Mac App Store, the mouse just died! It’s a total nightmare! Blame on Apple for releasing more than 250 new features on Mac OSX 10.8 and not fixing such a priority bug like that…

    I’m completely baffled!

    • abc says:

      I don’t know details about this, but I would risk saying extremely slow mouse caused by intensive memory is a different issue from the 32ms lag.

      Personally I’ve never had slow mouse issues due to intensive usage, but I don’t own a magic mouse either.

    • Chris H. says:

      This isn’t lag, but rather interference between bluetooth and wifi. If you use a wired mouse it will go away entirely. You may also see an improvement if you use ethernet rather than wifi, although I’ve seen some say that any heavy network traffic, whether wireless or wired, will sometime cause issues with bluetooth mice on OSX.

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  83. Ben says:

    Your most recent blog post has me very excited!

    I’ve been using BootCamp for Adobe PS and CAD, but now it looks like I will finally be able to switch completely to Mac OS X.

    I am 100% certain that someone who is competent with a mouse in Windows will be more efficient at Adobe Creative Suite, CAD, and gaming than a person competent with a mouse in OS X.

  84. Chris Q. says:

    I’m still waiting for this fix for years… The small and annoying lag is always here. DAE is 100% right. Until a driver/fix is found I can certify that the problem is reduced with some mouses. For example, old Logitech G3 mouses (I have 3 of them) has less lag than any recent mouses I tried on OSX. G3 is EOL unfortunately. If someone find a fix it will be a TRUE revolution for Apple.

    • nishelo says:

      I also noticed a change between a Logitech M150 (wireless) and the more cheaper M125 (wired) mouse. For the latter, the lag is still there but it is more bearable, actually I am using it for simple pointing tasks. But for the Logitech M150 I couldn’t. I’ve tried so many times but found I could not stand the lag… at all!

  85. panta says:

    enabling quartz GL aka “quartz extreme 2d” did the trick for me, mouse cursor feels tight now !

    it is disabled by default on any mac.

    • Seph Soliman says:

      Panta, are you really sure? I’ve fiddled with those settings and havn’t noticed any changes in responsetimes. I used Quartz Debug and tried both Enable Quartz Extreme and Force QuartzGL without any noticable changes…

    • Ian says:

      What was suggested above is to disable VSync — in Quartz debug this is Quartz debug settings -> Beam Sync -> Disable

      You will notice tearing when you move windows around (as on XP for example), but animations and screen drawing in general will now not be capped to the vertical refresh of the monitor (I see up to ~150FPS, theoretically a ~6ms drawing delay). John Carmack’s post above gave very clear evidence this delay exists (on an old Macbook compared to XP at least), and his hypothesis about the window compositor delaying the drawing is clear. Disabling beam sync should allow you to test this.

    • Fox says:

      How to enable quartz extreme 2d ?

  86. Chris Q. says:

    Disabling vertical sync (in Quartz debug) doesn’t change the mouse lag for me.

  87. Gaming says:

    Theгe’s certainly a great deal to learn about this issue. I like all the points you made.

  88. Wut says:


    OK, I’ve been using Windows 12+ hours every single day for the last 15 years or so, and only recently got my very first Mac for iOS development. I liked OS X so much I decided to dump Windows altogether, and I have no f’n idea what y’all are talking about with this mouse lag BS. “Annoyances?” What annoyances?! If anything the cursor in Mac OS (I’m running ML on an MBP) feels a lot smoother than Windows! And I use a crappy A4Tech wireless (not Bluetooth) mouse.

    So yeah, as if this whole thing didn’t seem exaggerated out of proportion already, calling OS X “less suited for gaming and design” (IN BOLD NO LESS) tells me that someone is butthurt just for the sake of having butthurt.

    • Dae says:

      I’ll post more factual information in the future, until then you can read John Carmack’s comment above which is very accurate. I don’t think you care though.

      • Wut says:

        P.S Don’t get me wrong, if there IS a problem then it’s great you guys are doing something about it and as a new Mactard I can appreciate that. But scaring people away by saying the whole OS is less suited for something because of an issue that many users can’t feel just seems unnecessarily exaggerated.

        • James says:

          If your computer is fine, than fine. Why are reading this blog if this isn’t an issue for you. By the number of comments, isn’t it obvious that it is a probable for many people out there? Most, if not all of us here love macs too. We’re just trying to find a solution. Your comments are overly critical towards people who are just trying to make their computer experiences better.

  89. Mina H says:

    As a fairly hardcore Quakelive player I can say this issue really makes QL unplayable on OSX to all but novices …. not a noticeable problem at all for me in desktop apps. Almost makes me wonder if mouse handling is part of the main thread which starts to degrade when the system is under load ? …. such a shame

  90. fox says:

    OSX feels like Remote Desktop compared to Windows :)

  91. Dae says:

    We’ve started the SmoothMouse Forum, dedicated to usage of mice and any other pointing devices in Windows, OS X, Linux and, of course, games. People who contribute to the forum will get early access to the beta version of SmoothMouse for OS X.

  92. Eric says:

    I’m glad i found this blog. I switched to mac from pc some months ago and the lag has been driving me crazy. I noticied this on all of my friends mac’s befor i made the decision to switch myself and whenever i’ve brought it up it was quickly dismissed as fanboyism. Mainly because they don’t see the issue being used to the horrid mouse movement. I thought it was because their macs was older but no, my brand new maxed out MBA 13 has the same issues.

    I use the mouse only in Logic pro where i need precise movement to trim regions and similar fiddly operations. I’ve installed several mouse acceleration software but the lag prevails.

    It’s my #1 annoyance in the mac os.

  93. Erling says:

    I have a Mac mini 2,7 Ghz i7 and a Mac bluetooth magic mouse and it is sooo sluggish, it sometimes swims around like it’s not connected to my hand movements. I work fast, and I often have all my applications open (8Gb ram) – I used to work on a iMac 27″ until recently and noo way did this mouse swim around like that.
    Anyone with the same experience?
    Could it be that the Mac mini simply isn’t fast enough to handle it, or could it be a faulty motherboard??

  94. Dae says:

    Further discussion about pointer lag in Mac OS X has been moved to How does the problem affect you? Share you thoughts.

    If you have any other problem with your mouse and Mac OS X, just start a new topic and we’ll try to help you.

    Comments here are now closed.

  95. Herbie Fakir says:

    I actually just thought of something.. I used to use a Wacom Tablet a lot when I was doing music production with my Mac and I don’t recall feeling the pain of a regular mouse.. It was much better on my wrist after long long hours.. Anyway it’s not a fix but maybe a bandaid if you have one lying around.

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