I have used a Macintosh computer for over two years, so Apple’s USB mouse also has had many hour of use. The mouse has a small trackball on its top side that lets people use finger-tip motions to move up or down, left or right within documents, photos, spreadsheets and emails. But recently the trackball stopped working. The arrow in the image below points to the small top-side trackball.
Unfortunately, Mac users have a “sealed” mouse that defies disassembly, so once the pea-size trackball and internal mechanism gets gunked up, it’s time for a new mouse at $US 50. That seemed like a lot to spend for a new USB mouse, considering I bought a new wireless keyboard for $US 30. I decided to try to figure out how to take the mouse apart. Several Web sites explain how to remove a glued-on plastic ring and then disassemble the mouse. (Other sites note they destroyed their mouse in the process.) Here’s a good video link: www.wonderhowto.com/how-to-clean-apple-mighty-mouse-scroll-ball-217746/
I followed these instructions part way and then set out on my own to disassemble and clean the trackball mechanism. I was surprised at the lint, fuzz, and dirt in that mechanism and after looking at the parts I understood why Apple made it “unfixable” by users: The parts are too small and delicate for many people to re-assemble. I reassembled the cleaned trackball mechanism–it took several attempts–and it now works.
But, when I buy a product, such as a mouse or keyboard, I assume the manufacturer provides a way to maintain it. If a keyboard gets dusty, I can use a spray can of “dusting air” to clean it and even remove key caps if it needs deeper cleaning. Perhaps Apple should think more about maintenance of products and less about style and “coolness.”
That’s a lesson many designers should employ, too. All too often, maintaining or repairing a product becomes horribly complicated. The oil drain on my lawn mover provides another example. It’s hidden behind a plastic baffle and I must remove the blade before I can remove the baffle. That’s just a dumb design. –Jon Titus
p.s. When I reassembled the mouse, I attached the glued ring with small pieces of clear tape. I know I’ll have to clean the trackball in a year or so.