Mouse acting erratically, jumping, or is not moving properly

Computer MouseThere are many reasons why a computer mouse may not be functioning properly. The following is a list of the more common reasons for erratic mouse movement, as well as our recommended fixes.

Note: If your mouse is not moving your computer may be frozen.

The mouse is not clean

An optical-mechanical mouse (mouse with a ball) may not work well because the inside of the mouse is not clean. See our computer cleaning page for steps to remedy this problem.

Optical portion of mouse is blocked

Bottom of optical-mechanical and optical computer mouseIf you have an optical mouse (LED or laser) with erratic behavior, the optical eye is probably blocked. It is not uncommon for a hair to block the sensor on the bottom of the mouse making the mouse believe it has jumped. Turn the mouse over and make sure there is no debris blocking the hole. Blowing into the hole usually removes any hairs that could cause problems.

Bad surface

Although most mice work on any surface, if you are having problems with the cursor, we suggest a different mouse pad or surface, such as a book or piece of paper. For example, optical mice are notorious for not working on glossy surfaces. Putting a piece a paper under the mouse is a quick fix for this issue.

Wireless mouse

If you have a wireless mouse, there can be two reasons why your mouse may be jumping.

Bad wireless connection

To communicate wirelessly with the computer your mouse must have a good signal between the computer and the mouse. Make sure your mouse has a good line of sight to the receiver. If you do not have a receiver with an extension cable that can be move try moving the USB receiver from the back to the front of the computer.

Bad or failing batteries

Bad or failing batteries can also cause a low signal strength with wireless mice, make sure it is not your batteries by replacing the batteries or make sure they are charged.

Reconnect and try different port

It is also possible that a loose connection or bad port to cause problems with the mouse. Make sure that it is not either of these problems by disconnecting the mouse from the current USB port and trying another USB port.

If you are using an older computer with a PS/2 mouse, try disconnecting the mouse and reconnecting the mouse into the mouse port (usually the purple port). If your computer has USB ports, you may also consider now as being a good time to upgrade to a USB mouse.

Moisture or other substance on finger

Laptop touchpadIf you're using a touchpad, you may experience erratic behavior because of moisture or another substance on the finger, such as a lotion or soap. Wash your hands and wipe them with a towel thoroughly to remove any lotion or soap from your fingers.  It may also help to wipe the touchpad itself off too, to remove any substances that are sticking to it.

Disconnect other external input devices

If you have other input devices, such as another external mouse, graphics tablet, or keypad connected to your machine, it may cause interference. Try disconnecting these devices to make sure they are not the cause of your problem.

Update drivers and uninstall older drivers

Because drivers control how the mouse interfaces with the operating system, if they're out of date or corrupt, the mouse is not going to work properly. Make sure you have the latest drivers from your mouse manufacturer.

We also recommend going into Add or Remove Programs and uninstalling all previous mouse drivers and software. Uninstalling old software is important when moving between mouse manufacturers, like going from a Logitech to a Microsoft mouse.

Defective mouse

If you have followed all of the steps listed above and continue to encounter problems, the mouse is likely defective. To determine if this is the case, try connecting the mouse to another computer. You can also try connecting another mouse to your computer. If your mouse does not work with another computer or another mouse does work on your computer, we suggest replacing your mouse.

Corrupt operating system files or virus infection

If after trying everything above, you are still having problems with your mouse and even other mice on your computer, there may be corrupt operating system files on your computer. If one or more system files that interact with the mouse are corrupt, this can cause erratic mouse movement or failure to respond and click in various cases. If possible, restoring to a previous restore point could resolve the issue. However, you may have to perform an operating system repair install or full system recovery to resolve this type of issue.

There is also the possibility that your computer is infected with a virus or even spyware. A virus or spyware infection could cause problems with mouse movement and clicking actions, as well as other problems. Scan your computer with an antivirus program to determine if it is infected.

Defective motherboard

If you've tried all of the above steps and multiple mice do not work with the computer it is also possible for the connections on the motherboard either PS/2 or USB to be defective. In this situation, the motherboard needs to be replaced. Typically in this situation we suggest having the computer sent in for repair because of the difficulty of replacing a motherboard.

If you do want to replace the motherboard we suggest finding the same motherboard in the computer or make sure that any new motherboard is compatible with all of your hardware.

Additional information