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Why All DAW Users Should Use a Kensington Expert Mouse February 25, 2009

Posted by ConnorSmith in : Computers, Editing, Reviews , trackback

This is one serious mouse.  This is the single greatest improvement to work speed and fluidity I’ve seen in my setup. (Perhaps with the exception of a fast computer).

The Kensington Expert Mouse is an oversized trackball-style mouse with 4 buttons and a scroll wheel.  Its designed to dramatically reduce wrist fatigue (and comes with a gel wrist pad).  Trackballs are much better for your wrist than a traditional mouse (no carpal tunnel!)

Before delving into the features, I can tell you that the mouse feels excellent.  The ball is very large, and the added inertia helps you make smooth and precise movements.  The buttons are strategically placed, with easy access yet few mis-clicks.  The scroll wheel is a great addition (which is usually not present on trackballs), and in my opinion is one of the features that really sets this mouse apart.

The mouse comes with a software package to help you customize its functions.  Each button is assignable to any click, function or key combination.  Notice that one of my buttons is assigned to “Swap Scrolling”.  By clicking that button, the scroll wheel (around the ball) changes from vertical to horizontal scrolling.  This means you will never have to move your mouse to the side of a window to scroll, in any direction, ever. In addition, you can assign a function to the pressing of both top and both bottom buttons.  For me, this means I can switch tools, edit modes, and track views in Pro Tools without my left hand on the keyboard.  Below is the software panel where you can choose your functions.

After getting used to the mouse for about 15 minutes, I noticed a dramatic improvement in speed.  Having extra “hotclicks” at your disposel is really awesome.

The one downside is that this is not an inexpensive mouse.  It retails for over $100, but you can find it on Amazon for around $70. In my opinion, I would gladly pay twice that.

A DAW user’s dream, with no wrist fatigue.


The Studio Files


1. Jon - February 25, 2009

That one seems to be popular with PT Gurus. I’m not a fan of trackballs though. the one on the ICON is horrid.

I use the Logitech MX Revolution
Not cheap but I like it a lot.

7 customizable buttons, I use some for zooming, play, shift, ctrl+0 (snap to nearest grid line)
Holding shift (custom thumb button) and scroll wheel moves horizontally.
I can do most of my beat detective work single handed. 🙂
The scroll wheel is cool, it has a stepped mode, and if you spin it fast it switches to a free spinning mode.

2. ConnorSmith - February 25, 2009

^^Seems very cool, although I’m hooked on trackballs myself. I found that long editing sessions on traditional mice were really killing my wrist.

3. Joe Chase - March 7, 2009

I’ve used a track ball for years even before I started with PT. Sadly, my last track ball (Logitec marble) isn’t nearly as posh with programmable buttons as my old Kensington. I will replace soon.

4. Nhmorgan01 - January 6, 2011

Those with newer Macs beware, though. Kensington doesn’t offer, nor does it have plans to offer, a compatible version of Mouseworks. They instead only offer the far more inferior Trackballworks which lacks much of the functionality and customization described in the article. Shame on Kensington for dropping Mac support….

5. RobK - December 7, 2011

Love Kensington but the latest Expert Mouse does NOT work for me with PT9.1, completely unreliable. I’ve been using Kensington trackballs for many many years prior to this.

6. Glenn R - April 30, 2012

I could not agree more with your recommendation for using the Kensington 4 button trackball with DAWs. In my case it was Logic Pro. Alas, since upgrading to Lion and replacing my system hard drive it no longer functions. Aa noted above, there’s no workaround for this.

I’d be interested to know if you have found anything that might replace this wonderful tool. I’m still amazed that Kensington don’t offer their programmable Mouseworks software for their newer devices; I’d be happy to buy the new model but for the fact that they have ceased to include these incredibly useful user-programmable buttons.

Thinking now of trying a DAW transport device such as Presonus Faderport or the (discontinued) Alphatrack by Frontier Designs.


7. Lukas - May 9, 2012

How did you get it to swap scrolling?

I can’t make it work, I even called support and they didn’t know!

Please if you can help me 🙂

Regards Lukas

8. Vinny - October 12, 2013

I second Lukas’ question.

9. Mike Kravets - January 16, 2014

Which trackball is better – Kensington Expert Mouse, or Slimblade ?
I plane to buy one of them, but in Ukraine there is no this brand on market, so I can’nt try before buy.Interesting some problems with scrolling, because Slimblade has no horizontal scrolling mode, is it true ?
For me is not a problem to push shift button to switch between scrolling modes, but I wanna hear someones opinion, who have tested both of that devices. THANKS !)

10. Glenn R - January 16, 2014

Sorry Mike, I can’t answer your question since I have not tried the Slimblade. But after Kensington completely abandoned Mouseworks, I would not recommend anyone to buy anything they make. You just cannot be sure they will keep up with the OS updates.

11. Glenn R - January 16, 2014

Sorry Mike, I can’t answer your question since I have not tried the Slimblade. But after Kensington completely abandoned Mouseworks, I would not recommend anyone to buy anything they make. You just cannot be sure they will keep up with the OS updates.

@Lukas and Vinny – re: SwapScroll:
When Kensington’s own support can’t answer that question you can be sure they are not an outfit worth your business.

12. Mike Kravets - January 16, 2014

Yeah, it’s strange Kensington strategy about drivers… Maybe you tell me some alternatives? I would appreciate any information on choosing a trackball for use with DAW

13. Rudy Cordova - February 19, 2015

where did the swap scrolling function go?!?!

14. Mike Kravets - February 20, 2015

Use Kensingtone slimblade trackball, Win 7×64, Presonus Studio One 2 – any problems with driver, all is working great & much more comfortable than mouse.

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