Oddly, Apple's Magic Mouse works right out of the box with all functions intact on Windows. But on a Mac, you must first set it up in System Preferences. Steve Jobs didn't want you to use a right click, I guess.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983


Cheapskate's Buying Guide 2011

No mousing around for these gifts

December 11, 2011

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2011, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2011, The Post-Standard

'Tis almost the season to be jolly, so you'd better get your gift list together while the geese are getting fat. To help select the best tech toys, here is the fourth installment of my Cheapskate's Buying Guide. This week: Accessories.

Stuck for a holiday gift for a laptop-using companion? The Cheapskate has just the thing.

It's a mouse.

If your first reaction is this -- "A mouse for a laptop? What are you thinking?" -- it's time for your wakeup call. Most of the time, a typical laptop isn't used on a lap at all. It's used on a desk or table. And that means there's a much easier way to control things than using a trackpad.

Don't get offended if you're a devoted trackpad user. Just follow along. Trackpads are great in some situations -- especially for those who never use a desktop computer and have trained themselves on a trackpad -- but they can be frustrating for anyone who switches from a desktop mouse to a trackpad laptop a couple of times a day. And a mouse can turn any laptop into a mini desktop in seconds.

Any mouse with work with any laptop, Windows or Mac. My choice for many happy months has been Apple's Magic Mouse ($69, from www.apple.com or any Apple store). It has no visible buttons and looks like a piece of sculpture. The mouse's "buttons" are actually just areas that respond to the presence of a fingertip, like a touchscreen does. You can also flick your finger in multiple directions for a dozen different actions. It uses Bluetooth, the short-range wireless method built into most laptops.

(Please note: Oddly, Apple's Magic Mouse works right out of the box with all functions intact on Windows. But on a Mac, you must first open the Mouse preferences in System Preferences and check the box named "Secondary click." Otherwise you won't have a functioning right click. The option was hidden away on Mac computers because Steve Jobs didn't like right clicking. But now that he's passed away, Apple is sure to change.)

How about a great gift for an iPad user? Everybody I know who owns an iPad (and that's just about all my friends) wonders abut the best way to clean finger smudges off the screen. You can't use normal glass cleaners such as Windex because they permanently fog the screen. Distilled water sprayed on a microfiber cloth works OK, but I like the iKlear cleaning kit. It's used by Apple technicians, too. Amazon has it for $11.80 at this shortened address: http://tinyurl.com/ckpcsr4. And, yes, iKlear works on laptop and desktop screens as well as on iPhones and other portable devices.

A great stocking stuffer -- if your stockings are really wide -- is a pack of photo paper for an ink jet printer. Kodak's glossy photo paper has performed well on all my printers, and the pictures stay vivid and keep their true colors for years. Stop by at any Best Buy, OfficeMax or Staples for the best deal. A good price would be $10 or less for a 100-sheet pack. Stay away from no-name or just plain cheap photo printer paper; it's not designed to make good photo prints.