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Review: Logitech MX Master 2S mouse

Shortly after I bought my 2014 iMac, my third-party mouse died. So I started using the Magic Mouse that came with the iMac, and added “get new third-party mouse” to my to do list. Although I never found the Magic Mouse all that comfortable, I kept putting off replacing it.

Finally, when I ordered the new iMac—yes, that task sat on my to do list for nearly five years—I decided to go back to an ergonomic button-laden third-party mouse. After some searching and hand-fit tests, I bought a Logitech MX Master 2S ($70 at Amazon) mouse1Note that this is definitely a right-hand-only mouse, and Logitech doesn’t appear to offer a left-handed version. Sorry, lefties..

Note: I really dislike reviews that are so short they read more like press releases (and sometimes actually are reprinted press releases). I don’t do a ton of reviews here, but when I do, they tend to be long, because I like to use a product first, then review it in depth.

So what follows are many words (and images) about a computer mouse. If you’d like the tl;dr version instead, here it is: I love the MX Master 2S due to its great ergonomics, customizability, and easy multi-computer support. Keep reading for the much longer version.

I find the MX Master 2S very comfortable in my hand—much more so than Apple’s Magic Mouse—the shape and size more naturally fit the size and curve of my hand. I do highly recommend test-fitting any mouse before buying (or buying from somewhere with an easy return policy), as what feels right in my hand may feel horrible in yours.

Beyond the fit, though, it’s the features that I find so well done and usable on this mouse…

The software

Years ago, I had a Logitech mouse and it came with the Logitech Control Center software. I really didn’t like that app very much. Thankfully, the new mouse uses an app called Logitech Options, and while it’s a decidedly non-standard Mac app, it works very well. The main screen shows each of the buttons on the mouse, with white callout circles:

Buttons are customized by clicking on those white circles in the app—you can’t customize the left and right buttons, but you can reverse them. Depending on which circle you click, you’ll be taken to another screen (or screens) with further options. I’ve found the app works very well, and it uses a reasonable amount of RAM when running (you don’t need to leave it running all the time; there’s a background daemon for that).

It took me almost no time to customize things as I wanted, as I found the app intuitive and easy to use.

The thumb rest

With many mice, my thumb just lies there uselessly, or there might be a button or two, most of which tend to be hard to reach with the thumb. But the thumb rest on the MX Master 2S is a wide comfortable ledge that also offers a ton of power.

First off, the thumb rest itself is a button; I have it set to launch Witch, our window/tab switcher app. Witch is set to leave its panel onscreen until I dismiss it, so I can switch windows/tabs by clicking the button, scrolling down to the desired window, and clicking the left mouse button.

But this button has a second trick: It’s also supports what Logitech calls gestures. A gesture is really just a mouse-drag: Hold down the thumb button, then drag the mouse a small amount in one of four directions.

Each gesture direction can be assigned one of 34 tasks which range from the mundane to the esoteric. You can change activate Mission Control or App Exposé; change the pointer speed; open applications or files or web pages; change volume; and much more.

Here’s how I have the four gestures assigned:

The top, left, and bottom gesture are all quite standard; the right gesture is set to the keyboard shortcut for “capture region of screen to clipboard.” This makes it really easy to grab either sections of my screen (just use the gesture), or entire windows (press the Space Bar after the gesture) to the clipboard. I do this a lot, for both Many Tricks’ work and for blog posts here. (I have similar easy-to-use Keyboard Maestro macros set up for keyboard use.)

Gestures don’t require much mouse motion to activate; I’ve found them a great timesaver thus far.

The Mode Shift button

This is a button on the top of the mouse that changes how the scroll wheel behaves (more on that in a bit). But it too can be reprogrammed…and one option for any programmable button on the mouse is to make it a gesture button, like the thumb button.

I’ve set up the mode shift button as a gesture button, so it operates just like the thumb button, but I use the gestures (and the button click itself) to open often-used folders:

This makes it easy to get to five folders that I open many times throughout the week. I open Downloads a lot, so it’s on the button action, and the other four are assigned to the gestures. (No, “Pool” isn’t swimming, it’s billiards-related stuff, but I prefer the word pool.)

The side scroller wheel

On the left side of the mouse, above the thumb rest, lies a second scroll wheel (visible in the above photo of the left side of the mouse).

This wheel can be used for the obvious—horizontal scrolling—but like the other buttons, it’s also customizable. As seen in the screenshot at right, there are a number of other choices for this scroll wheel.

As it’s already possible to horizontally scroll in macOS (by holding Shift and using the normal scroll wheel), I’ve assigned the wheel to change the volume—it’s a really nice timesaver to be able to easily change the volume when I’ve already got the mouse in my hand.

The scroll wheel is located just above where my thumb rests, so there’s no risk of accidental volume changes, but it takes only a slight upward movement to reach.

There are also two buttons next to the scroll wheel, but the top one is really difficult to reach—so I use it for a rarely-used special trick, discussed in a future blog post. I do have the lower one assigned to DejaMenu, which is a really old utility I use that can pop up an app’s menu bar menus via a hot key.

Multi-computer support

The MX Master 2S supports up to three computers (macOS or Windows, no Linux), connecting either via Logitech’s Unifying Receiver or Bluetooth. You can switch between the connected machines using a switch on the bottom of the mouse…

…but that’s not the slickest way to switch. Instead, Logitech Options offers a feature called Flow that lets you move the mouse between computers via screen edges:

In the above screenshot, the left screen is my iMac, the right screen my Windows 10 machine. When I hold down Control and move to the right screen edge of my iMac, the mouse switches to the Windows 10 machine. On the Windows 10 box, holding Control and moving against the left edge sends the mouse back to the iMac. (You can rearrange the screens to match your physical layout.)

I don’t use this a lot, but when I do need to use Windows, it’s nice to be able to use the same comfortable mouse on both machines. (I haven’t bothered to set up all the buttons on Windows, as I don’t use it enough to need a lot of shortcuts.)

The dual-nature scroll wheel

The main scroll wheel on the MX Master 2S features two operating modes: The usual click-click-click mode, which allows small but precise motions, and a totally free mode where the scroll wheel simply spins unimpeded—great for scrolling longer documents in a hurry.

The mode shift button below the scroll wheel can be used to manually toggle between these two modes—but that’s the button I stole for my second set of gestures. So how do I switch wheel modes? Using a Logitech features called SmartShift:

Based on how quickly you spin the wheel, the mouse either stays in click-click mode or shifts into freewheeling mode. The SmartShift sensitivity slider determines at what point the switch occurs; I have it relatively low (high?) in favor of freewheeling, making it easy to get into no-click mode.

And how well does it spin in freewheeling mode? Amazingly well…

You can hear the clicks when the mouse is in click-click mode, and then it freewheels for about 15 seconds off a very light flip. This is excellent for navigating long documents, though I do sometimes have to remember to stop the wheel before I activate another app, otherwise it’ll start scrolling on switch.

That’s all folks…

If you’re in the market for a third-party mouse, I’ve found the Logitech MX Master 2s ($70 at Amazon) to be a very good one. I’ve only been using it for a few weeks, but haven’t had any issues so far. It’s comfortable, configurable, supports multiple machines, and the two-mode scroll wheel is a stroke of genius. Apple may prefer devices with no buttons at all, but when it comes to buttons on mice, for me, the more the merrier!

2 Comments

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    1. Honestly, I don’t know what a back button is—where is it by default? And can’t you just remap it to another one?

      -rob.

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