Mouse or Trackpad?
Using both in tandem helps me reduce strain and improve computing comfort.
In discussions about whether to use a mouse or a trackpad—like the one on a recent episode of the Accidental Tech Podcast—it’s often presented as an either/or choice.
But each input method has concrete benefits, which is why for the past two years, I’ve been opting to use both in tandem, with one on either side of my keyboard.
Best of Both Worlds
The reason has to do with ergonomics and minimizing joint strain.
To me, the mouse has a distinct advantage when it comes to moving the cursor and clicking. My hand can rest easily on the mouse, and a click exercises only a very specific set of muscles.
With the trackpad, a click involves more of the hand, and in my usage I’ve found that I’m still more precise with a mouse when it comes to reliably hitting small cursor targets. Sometimes when I click with the trackpad, my fingertip shifts slightly—or the trackpad thinks it did—and my cursor is knocked off target.
Meanwhile, I find the trackpad is vastly superior for scrolling of all kinds. Mouse wheel scrolling requires pulling the finger back in an uncomfortable fashion, the repetition of which causes soreness.
With my trackpad, I can gently flick around with two finger swipes. Horizontal, vertical…any direction is effortless. My hand remains open and relaxed, and the larger surface area of the trackpad gives me a longer “throw” for navigation.
My usage is by no means exclusively as described above, but in general if I’m moving a cursor and clicking, it’s with the mouse, and if I’m navigating a canvas or scrolling, it’s with the trackpad.
I can’t say that this approach will make sense for everyone, but now it feels natural to me and has noticeably reduced my wrist and finger pain after long days at the computer.
So the next time you’re considering whether to use a mouse or a trackpad, remember that there’s always Option C: using both.
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