Apple's Mighty Mouse (now also called an Apple Mouse) has a dirty little secret. While the scroll ball performs its duties as intended when the mouse is new, it can become clogged with dirt and grime over time.

Its performance then deteriorates dramatically, with the ball sticking and failing to scroll. There are a number of things you can do to try and free the ball, and return it to its full 360-degree scrolling glory.

First of all, try turning it upside down and rolling the ball around. Roll it on a piece of paper, hoping the debris and dirt will rub off onto it. Give it a blast with a can of compressed air, or a rub with computer-cleaning solution or a wet wipe. But if all else fails, a drastic course of action may be required.

Removing and cleaning a Mighty Mouse's scroll ball isn't particularly easy. A considerable amount of disassembly is required before you can clean the ball and its housing.

In this tutorial, we show you how to get inside your Mighty Mouse without damaging it, and how to clean and reinvigorate your scroll ball to get everything up and running again. It should take approximately 20 minutes, but be prepared to invest a little more time if needed, especially the first time you clean your mouse in this way.

A word of warning

Caution! Disassembling your Mighty Mouse involves breaking off a component that's glued into place. It's not easy, and if you make a mistake, you're extremely likely to damage or even ruin the device.

We can't take responsibility if your Mighty Mouse is broken while following this tutorial, and as a result we can only recommend that you attempt it if your mouse is in such poor condition that you feel you've nothing to lose, if you give it a go.

It is recommended that you read the whole of this tutorial before you start, especially Steps 2 and 3.

Quick tip

Apple has posted a guide to cleaning your Mighty Mouse without disassembly on its support website. Try these tips first, before you go ahead and take your mouse apart. Follow them regularly and it might never even require disassembly.

Disassemble a Mighty Mouse for cleaning

Step 1

01. Gather your equipment Make sure you have a scalpel, a steel ruler or something similar to remove the base ring, and a Phillips screwdriver to unscrew the ball housing. We recommend you get some tweezers, cotton buds and a computer cleaner - either wet wipes or a spray bottle.

Step 2

02. Unfasten the collar Slide your scalpel under the plastic ring that circles the body (not the base) of the mouse. As shown in the picture, above, it's the collar that runs over the side buttons and the USB cable, not the ring around the outside of the base panel. Take care not to break it.

Step 3

03. Remove the collar Here's a picture of the collar after it's been properly removed. It's important to note that, before removal, this collar is glued and not clipped into place. The glued spots are broken by sliding your scalpel or pocket knife under the collar and twisting.

Step 4

04. Undo the mouse shell The front section of the mouse's body is now held in place by two easily visible clips. Gently prise them open and lift the body of the mouse. It hinges at the rear, as you can see here. Disconnect the hinges too, taking care not to damage the data cables.

Step 5

05. Free the cables To remove the cables connecting the lid to the motherboard, lift the stays forming part of the sockets. With a fingernail either side of the plastic housing, raise it by a millimetre. The cables can then slip free from their housing, separating the mouse into two parts.

Step 6

06. Unscrew ball assembly You now have easy access to the ball housing, which you should unscrew using your Phillips screwdriver. The cross-shaped white plastic housing that holds the ball in place comes free with a little lift, but be careful not to lose the ball or one of its magnetic rollers.

Step 7

07. Clean ball and housing Now it's time to get the cleaning gear out. Using ordinary computer-cleaning fluid, tweezers, wet wipes and cotton buds, clean out all the grime and gunk that's accumulated around the ball. As the rollers are magnetic, use a pencil to push them into place after cleaning.

Step 8

08. Reassemble the Mouse Follow the disassembly instructions in reverse. Make sure the stays are raised before you slot in the cables, then push them down again to hold them secure. Use an extra-strong glue or silicon sealant, to replace the collar. Use it sparingly – just a few spots are needed.

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First published in MacFormat Issue 217

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