Though I'm comfortable using either a trackpad or mouse for most tasks, there are some things that I prefer to have the precision of a mouse for. On one such occasion I was traveling with my MacBook, so I decided to toss my Magic Mouse into the bottom of a bag with other loose things. When I took it out, I noticed that the surface got all scuffed up and felt different.

The mouse still works, but the scratches annoy me. Is there any way to remove or minimize them? My biggest annoyance is the lack of consistent friction on the surface of the mouse - it makes performing some gestures harder. I'd like to have the entire surface have a consistent level of friction, and, if possible, have it feel like a new Magic Mouse. Is this possible?

  • This is after-the-fact, right, not preventative? – Daniel Apr 1 '12 at 17:44
  • @DanielL Yes, though other people might benefit from a preventative answer if it's not possible to fix – Kyle Cronin Apr 1 '12 at 17:46

Ok, so this is based on my experience as a hobbyist woodworker and from fixing up scratches and orange peels on my car. You will need:

  • Fine sand paper with grits 600, 800 and a 1000. If your scratches are deeper, you might have to go down to 400, but it would be better if you didn't (don't go below that — will be too hard to recover on plastic). If you'd like a much smoother finish, go up to 2000, but it isn't necessary.
  • Buffing compound.
  • Buffing cloth with microfibers.
  • A can of clear coat spray.
  • A steady hand.

You can easily get the first 4 from an auto parts store (e.g., AutoZone in the US).

Caution: This will generate fine dust and the fumes from the spray can cause irritation, so use a dust/vapour mask.

Start with the lowest grit sandpaper and gently sand the roughed up area. Be steady in your strokes and use long strokes instead of short, rapid and jerky motions. Of course, "long strokes" is kind of ambiguous in a mouse that's only 4" long and with a scratch length much smaller than that, but the important thing is to be steady.

Don't take too much material and don't apply pressure. Let the grit work on the scratch; not your strength. Once it starts getting smoother and you don't see any visible improvement, move higher up in grit. Repeat the same till you finish the highest grit. Remember that the plastic layer isn't very thick and possibly contains sensitive piezos underneath, so do not dwell on each grit for too long.

When you're done, you should see a smooth, matty finish on the surface. If all you want is smoothness and don't care about gloss, I'd say stop here and move to the next paragraph. Else, spray about 2 light coats of clear spray. Sand gently with the highest grit in between coats (allow each coat to dry completely) and wipe with a microfiber cloth before the next coat. If you're worried that an additional film layer might affect the touch sensitiveness, by all means, skip this step.

Finally, apply the buffing compound and work into the area with a buffing cloth. The compound serves to fill in the ultra fine scratches that the grits won't get and brings out a nice finish to the piece. Use an orbital buffer if you have one, but hand should be sufficient.

Good luck, and hope that works for you.

Disclaimer: I haven't done this to my Magic Mouse, but I have experience finishing stuff in wood, plastic and metal.

  • I would never use fine sand paper on a glass or glossy plastic surface! – gentmatt Apr 1 '12 at 18:17
  • @gentmatt I don't think it's glass, otherwise it wouldn't have scratched so easily – Kyle Cronin Apr 1 '12 at 18:18
  • @KyleCronin It's probably some kind of plastic. But using sand paper will add a lot more scratches. – gentmatt Apr 1 '12 at 18:22
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    @gentmatt You have no choice. The alternative is to use a blow torch and try to soften the material slightly and hold it in that state for a while, so that it will settle into the scratches on its own. This requires way more expertise, is potentially risky to an average person and most importantly, you're bringing a high heat source near an electronic device and could easily fry it if you're not careful. Contrary to what you claim, sanding with finer and finer grits is the way to polish something. You can try watching videos on fine woodworking or auto detailing to verify. – rm -rf Apr 1 '12 at 18:22
  • great answer R.M. - "flame polish" will work if the plastic is the right kind and if you're a pro with the torch but the best way is patience, progressive grits and elbow grease. Micro-mesh is one brand name for plastic restoration kits with all but the clear coat spray included. – Adam Eberbach Apr 2 '12 at 4:50

One thing you might try for a surface like this is one of those CD repair kits where you lightly buff the scratch and then fill it with the special epoxy type solution. I've found many uses for that stuff on other smooth clear surfaces.

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