Apple Mouse / Mighty Mouse Roller Ball Cleaning

I’ve read all about how crap the Mighty Mouse is when it comes to the little scroll ball, how it’s generally impossible to really clean it, yadda yadda yadda.  Well I discovered today that not only is it possible, it’s actually quite easy and repeatable.

It all started when I lifted the mouse momentarily and noticed that the skirt had come away slightly at the front.  I thought this was worth investigating further, and with some very gentle persuasion the whole skirt practically fell off in my hands.  Looks like the glue had failed, as it appears to have little glue dabs all around it’s circumference, but these dabs look so small that it shouldn’t be too difficult to gently prise the skirt off with a butter knife or small screwdriver without causing any damage.

Mighty Mouse / Apple Mouse grey skirt

This revealed two key points of interest, one – two stop tabs at the front, and two – two hinge tabs at the back.

Stop tabs at the front of the mouse.

Hinge tab at the rear of the mouse

With some very gentle application of force with a small screwdriver I was able to release the two front stop tabs, this allowed the mouse to open up like a clam.

Top of the mouse opens like a clam

Applying the same principle, the rear hinge tabs can also be released allowing the top to come away from the bottom completely, but before this can happen there are two ribbon cables which must be released from the main circuit board; the black clips on each connector must be lifted before the ribbons can be pulled out, at which point there will be no resistance (unlike other ‘push in, pull out’ ribbon cable connector types).

Note the two ribbon cable connector clips (black)

Note the two ribbon cable connector clips (black)

Now that we have the two halves of the mouse separated it’s worth while doing a spot of general cleaning, including the area around the roller ball of the top half (once the roller ball unit has been removed, which is held in place by three small Phillips screws).

Mighty Mouse / Apple Mouse top half

Clean around the hole where the roller ball sits

Clean around the hole where the roller ball sits

The roller ball is in a self-contained unit attached to the top side of the mouse.  Once the three small screws are removed it can be seen in more detail.

Roller reassembled

The unit appears to work in much the same way as an old ball mouse or track ball, except this has four rollers instead of the usual two.  Closer inspection (of a working unit) reveals that only the roller that sits in the direction of ball-rolling turns, evidently there is a small gap such that the ball moves away from the other rollers enough so that it doesn’t touch them when rolling.  The small black wheels are actually magnetic, it’s this magnetism that is used to sense movement (instead of optics, as in old ball mice).  Quite ingenious but ultimately doomed as it has the same failings as the old ball mice, as in the rollers get dirty and eventually stop operating.  If you’ve ever cleaned a ball mouse then you’ll know what’s coming next – cleaning those rollers!  This is where a steady hand is, well, handy, as the parts are very small.

To get into the roller ball unit it’s quite simple – very gently lever up the sides of the unit, between the white and black plastic, so that the white top part lifts up, revealing the ball and rollers beneath.  There are no other parts to this, so don’t worry about losing any tiny springs.

Take care not to lose any of the tiny rollers or the ball.

Take care not to lose any of the tiny rollers or the ball.

One of the rollers came away with the top cover when I removed mine, this is OK as it can be placed back in the bottom half with ease.  Take each roller one at a time and clean off any gunk using some toilet paper or similarly fine cloth material; you will notice that the roller has a rough surface where the ball contacts it, it’s this rough surface that fills with finger grease and dead skin etc and must be cleared so that it is the same colour as the rest of the roller (white or very pale yellow).  Clean the ball too.  A slightly damp cloth can help remove the dirt, I would advise against using any chemicals as they are not necessary.

Re-assembe the roller unit before replacing the white cover

Re-assembe the roller unit before replacing the white cover

Once it’s all nice and clean put it all back together again, gently push the white top down so that it clips back into place (the rollers should fall into place as you push down).  Be gentle, you don’t need much force, if it won’t go down easily then make sure everything is in place and try again.

Reassemble the mouse in reverse order and hey presto!  You should have a clean and fully working Might Mouse / Apple Mouse, well done!

Mighty Mouse / Apple Mouse cleaned

The grey skirt is probably optional, it just keeps the wire grommet in place and dust out.  You can reattach it with a tiny amount of glue if you wish, super glue should make it easy to break apart for the next time you want to clean the roller ball.

About Jonathan

I am the owner of this blog and domain. I usually don't bite unless provoked.
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