I don't know if you've ever experienced such a behavior from your mouse pointer but it's happened to me several times.

The thing is, when I buy a brand new mouse, everything is fine for some time (a year or two) but after that, the mouse pointer starts twitching sometimes.

I first thought it's because of those old ball mice and due to their mechanical nature that this happens. But it keeps happening to the optical mouses too. I wonder what might cause this problem and how to avoid it?

This happens when the mouse is idle. I mean I'm not touching it at all and I use a standard mouse pad.

  • 2
    Have you considered that they might just be dirty?
    – Shinrai
    Jul 26, 2012 at 20:17
  • Read the update please.
    – 2hamed
    Jul 26, 2012 at 20:20
  • Try disabling "Enhance pointer precision" under Mouse settings in Control Panel, and try lowering the pointer speed. I would also try a Mouse Pad.
    – amiregelz
    Jul 26, 2012 at 20:21
  • I'm on linux (although it happens in Windows too). I also use a mouse pad.
    – 2hamed
    Jul 26, 2012 at 20:23

3 Answers 3


Whenever a mouse doesn’t work correctly and the pointer skips or jumps, the first thing you should do is to clean it. The rollers on ball mice accumulate dirt and oil and need to be cleaned, but even optical mice need to be cleaned, especially ones that are particularly sensitive and have high resolutions.

Check both the optical sensor and light closely for hair, particularly if you have a pet with very fine hair. These are small an light enough to remain stuck in there, unnoticed for quite a while, but are still visible to the optical sensor. This is a common cause of phantom optical mouse movements.

One way to prevent this is to place a small strip of clear, Scotch tape over the area.

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  • Seems legit. But I can't find anything which interferes with the light.
    – 2hamed
    Jul 27, 2012 at 6:33
  • I get cat hair in the hole and it makes my mouse do random crap... I tried tape, but it wasnt clear enough... I wonder if clearer tape would work
    – Keltari
    Jun 24, 2013 at 20:53
  • @Keltari, maybe, just make sure to avoid getting fingerprints on the tape. ;-)
    – Synetech
    Jun 25, 2013 at 17:27
  • (I’d rather have hair stuck in my mouse than in my eye; even those micro-thin cat hairs that are almost invisible feel like tree trunks! Argh!!!)
    – Synetech
    Nov 29, 2013 at 19:52
  • i had the same problem with my the most expensive mouse, I've ever bought (x7 -anti vibrant). I through that in my drawer. After about 3 year I took that out, but vibration made my annoyed. After reading this post.. I just made a tissue wet from a corner, and rubbed the lens in front of sensor. and wow.. it worked superb .
    – MFarooqi
    Apr 15, 2016 at 11:00

Sometimes I'll see "phantom" mouse movemement with optical mice (perhaps the pointer is travelling slowly even if it's not being touched, or the pointer motion is jerky in general) if the mouse is sitting on a surface with certain reflective properties, or if the surface is dusty.

An optical mouse uses the reflection of light off of your desk to track the motion of the mouse. If the surface of your desk has particles causing the light to reflect in odd ways, or if it is a very reflective surface, it will not be able to get a clear idea of its motion. Think of looking across a very clean window or mirror and trying to see the glass itself travel across your line of sight. It's the same problem.

Basically, the solution is to find something to put down on the under the mouse (like a piece of printer paper), or get a mousepad (they still are useful for this purpose). Or simply wipe any dust off your desk, and make sure there isn't a buildup of dust under the mouse itself, near the lens.

  • 2
    +1 for bad surface, inaccurate sensors and the like. I had this problem with an old optical mouse on a bad surface and putting a sheet of paper under the mouse was enough to give it a consistant surface without jitters.
    – Mokubai
    Jul 26, 2012 at 20:30
  • As I said in the comments, I use a standard mouse pad. And the problem is only when I'm not touching the mouse.
    – 2hamed
    Jul 26, 2012 at 20:32
  • And also my surface is perfectly level.
    – 2hamed
    Jul 26, 2012 at 20:32
  • @EdwinDrood Whether or not you use a mousepad (I do too) and if your surface is level (irrelevent to using a mouse), dust and other debris, even very small amounts, can cause this kind of behavior. Clean your surface. My guess is that you have specific places on the pad that, if the mouse rests on it, causes the jitters. When you're using it, 99.9% of the surface it sees won't cause that behavior. Jul 26, 2012 at 20:55
  • u are right. bad surface was the cause for my problem. thanku :)
    – NightFury
    Nov 23, 2013 at 17:00

I had this. My mouse was failing. I got a new mouse, no problem.

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