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I've been looking for a mouse for a late 2015 iMac for roughly 4 hours now because my mother told me that only some mice work and others will damage and possibly break the computer.

I've been looking all over the internet like a madman and eventually decided to reach out to an Apple Administrator about my issue and she sent me a link to the certified hardware built for the iMac.

The only mouse that was certified was the only mouse I wasn't looking for (Magic Mouse), so by that logic there is no mouse built for the iMac that isn't the one that doesn't have any scroll wheel or left and right clicks.

I was wondering if any old mouse might destroy the computer like my mother said since she could have gotten that info from anywhere.

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  • 3
    As a side note, the Magic Mouse does have left/right clicks and a scroll wheel, they're all just implemented through the touch interface, rather than as physical buttons. Aug 17 at 21:15
  • In defence of your mother, damage to the Mac would be expensive to remedy, so some caution and perhaps anxiety is understandable. But as the answers state, your iMac will be fine with any decent mouse. Maybe buy one from a well-known company, since then if a freak mouse-related issue occurred you could at least contact that company for support. I believe Microsoft make good mouses, for example. Aug 18 at 16:03
  • For what it’s worth, plugging a Cambridge Semiconductor Bluetooth dongle into 2019 MBPs disables permanently the built in Bluetooth. So, stuff like this isn’t impossible but I’ve never heard similar stories about mice.
    – ojs
    Aug 19 at 20:39
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Mice are mice. Any USB mouse will be fine. If that mouse has more than two buttons and a scrollwheel, you may need software to use all of its features, so look for a manufacturer that provides support for the Mac.

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    Aftermarket software can also provide this functionality. I've used a Microsoft Basic Optical Mouse (several, actually) with Macs for years and years with SteerMouse. No affiliation except as a satisfied user. Aug 17 at 16:23
  • Love that Basic Optical Mouse. It's the only corded mouse I use. But mine only have two buttons and a wheel. Are you sure you're not using the Intellimouse, that has the extra buttons? ^_^ Aug 17 at 19:35
  • I'm away from home now, but I remember it as a real Basic Optical Mouse. Two buttons and wheel (with a press switch) are all I need. Aug 18 at 10:03
  • Yup. It's a shame that the mice MS sells nowadays are such junk. I've stockpiled a bunch of the basic beige optical mice from garage sales and thrift stores and ebay and will use them forever. Aug 18 at 19:58
  • The buttons go bad but a few seconds google will tell you where to get replacements, and if you can solder, you can replace them easily. Aug 18 at 21:16
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While it is certainly possible to hook up hardware that can damage a computer, that's nothing specific to Macs, it's specific to that hardware.

And usually that's because you're hooking up something that's broken bad and causes overvoltage on the USB socket for example. A mouse, being a device without an external power source, isn't going to do that.

I've been using 3rd party rodents and keyboards with all my Macs for years and years, never had a problem apart from the occasional wonky driver that caused buttons to be mapped in strange ways, and even that is very rare these days.

The only advantage of "certified" externals is that if something goes wrong using the combination, Apple is going to cover it under warranty. But with a mouse, nothing's going to go wrong unless you deliberately do something like yanking out the connecting cable at a very steep angle.

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    "being a device without an external power source" I agree that a genuine mouse should not cause damage. There are, however, USB devices without an external power source, designed to cause damage by an overcharge.
    – idmean
    Aug 17 at 17:58
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    @idmean I've seen demonstrations of such a ‘USB-killer’ device, but I've not heard of them being used in the wild.  And my impression (unless anyone knows different…?) is that unless it's been specially designed for that, an unpowered USB device is overwhelmingly unlikely to cause any physical damage.
    – gidds
    Aug 17 at 18:04
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    "3rd part yrodents" hehe
    – Twometer
    Aug 18 at 20:10
  • @gidds I've seen USB devices kill ports via a short circuit. Once. This required: (a) a cable with the very poorly designed Micro-B USB3 plug on the other end, (b) a computer with insufficient overcurrent protection on its motherboard USB ports, (c) a lot of bad luck. Exceedingly unlikely to happen, much less with a mouse with only a full-size USB A plug.
    – Bob
    Aug 19 at 1:15
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First, any mouse that connects via Bluetooth cannot do physical damage to your computer.

Second, any mouse connected through a USB hub, even if it managed to damage the USB port in the hub, it would have trouble damaging your computer.

Third, any competently built mouse by a reputable vendor should be harmless. If anything, this is an admonishment not to buy no-name cheap Cheese junk.

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    I think your auto-correct AI must be a turophile, rather than a Sinophile.
    – Cody Gray
    Aug 18 at 5:35
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    A mouse might like to eat the Cheese :-) Aug 18 at 23:45
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    That first line sounds like a challenge.
    – miva2
    Aug 19 at 6:09
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People have been plugging any old USB mouse into their Macs for the last 20 years, without incident.

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    Not my downvote, but this barely seems worthy of a separate answer. Might be best as a comment on Marc Wilson's answer, to back up the fact that it's widely done in the real world. Aug 17 at 16:06
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    "without incident" — difficult to prove a negative. You sure no USB mouse has ever damaged a Mac? Aug 18 at 16:03
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    Well, there was that time I garrotted someone with the mouse cable.
    – benwiggy
    Aug 18 at 16:17
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    @benwiggy: Doesn't count, unless the person you garroted was built by Apple Inc..
    – Vikki
    Aug 19 at 0:09
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Totally agree with Marc Wilson here. On my iMac I've been using a wired USB Microsoft Intellimouse 3 for years, and occasionally a cordless Logitech mouse as well. Sometimes I forget that both are connected and you can have input from both at the same time.

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