How to Fix an Optical Mouse Sensor

A modern-day gaming mouse is not a cheap accessory to buy. If you want to invest in the best gaming mouse brands, chances are that you shell out quite a bit of money. When you invest upwards of $100 on a gaming accessory, any performance issue can cause stress and lead to frantic google searches to try and locate the source of worry and solve the problem.

If you notice the erratic movement of the cursor on the screen or just a decrease in responsiveness during flicks and movements, you might want to check the optical sensor. Before you open up your mouse (which we recommend you do NOT do), take it to your nearest service center or exercise your warranty, try out our tips and you might be surprised by the results.

Check the Mouse Skates

Mouse skates are simply the plastic/runner bits at the heel on the underside of the mouse. They are placed to provide a small lift to the mouse and also help it slide easier of mousepads. They might seem unnecessary but serve a very important function. The optical sensor on the mouse needs to be elevated a couple of millimeters from the surface for the best input and response.

If the mouse lays flat on the table or mousepad, there is drag and friction. The cursor does not respond at the optimal level when there is no gap for the light to reflect back. This leads to poor in-game response and a lot of rage-inducing situations.

To get the best out of your gaming mouse, check the skates, and ensure that they are not caked in dirt. The mouse skates tend to gather dirt and debris over time which increases friction and also reduces their lifespan. The increased wear and tear that comes with the constant rubbing on rough surfaces cause the mouse skate to wear out. This decreases the lift that gaming mouses need to function optimally.

If you think your skates are dirty and grimy, you can wipe them off with a cloth dipped in any common household alcohol rub/cleaner. Once they are clean, check them and see if they are level with the bottom of the mousepad/table or if they help raise the mouse a tiny bit.

You could shine a light from the other side of the mouse to check if there is a tiny sliver of light between the mouse and the surface it rests on. If there isn’t, time to invest in a set of mouse skates.

Most top gaming mice brands and their products come with mouse skates that can be purchased and glued on to the underside of the mouse. There are several kinds of mouse skates available that will help you move the mouse quicker, reduce friction, and give your optical sensor some breathing room which in turn helps you perform better.

Update your Mouse Drivers

Most modern-day gaming mice come with their own software which allows for customization of the LED lights, dpi, button programming for the extra buttons, and driver updates. Use this program and check periodically for updates of drivers. Outdated drivers are one of the primary issues that cause fluctuations in performance and erratic cursor movement on-screen. Keeping it up-to-date is crucial when it comes to high-level gaming.

Most mouse driver updates are small to medium size files. This means that you can set automatic updates and forget about this. This ensures that when an update rolls out, your computer downloads and installs it without any prompts, saving you the headache of having to check.

Clean the Mouse Sensor

When you look at the sensor, the plastic covering the LED light should be clear and unhindered by debris. Any particles of dust or dirt deposits on the plastic will cause a major drop in performance. If you find your cursor jumping around on-screen or just freezing randomly, mid-flick, this might be the issue.

Use a pressurized air canister for the best results. If you do not have one at home or work, use a small amount of alcohol rub on a rag, and gently wipe down the optical sensor. Remember to wipe it down after to avoid any wet spots that will also hamper the way the sensor works.

Avoid soapy cleaning agents as they tend to leave a white residue. After a few cleanings, this could prove more detrimental than helpful. Make sure that if you use a soap-based cleaner to wipe off the sensor thoroughly and dry it before use.

Check the Mouse Pad

Sometimes the issue could be with the mouse pad or the surface of your table. Check your mousepad for lumps, bumps, or divots. Sometimes, the plastic outer covering on top of the foam could rip off or bubble up with constant friction. This causes a huge problem for mice and when you are playing high octane shooters, the last thing you need is a sudden jump or uneven movement of the crosshair while taking aim.

Invest in a large mousepad that covers the majority of the table that you have your PC or laptop set-up on. We suggest a mousepad that is at least 20 inches in length (preferably more). This gives you enough surface area to move around and always find a flat, suitable surface for your mouse to rest on to give you optimal performance.

Conclusion

The mouse sensor is the most important part of the mouse and should always be kept clean and unobstructed by debris or dirt. Also giving it a small lift off the surface with mouse skates will allow it to glide effortlessly, and also prolong the lifespan of the mouse and save you an unnecessary trip to the repair shop.

About Suraj Radhakrishnan

Suraj is a tech writer with a passion for gaming. A lifelong Xbox proponent, he enjoys sports video games and high octane shooters. A lover of long, story-driven campaigns, he prefers completing missions to hunting down friends online. He also takes a lot of pride in telling people he has never played Fortnite.