Mouse glitch can be cured by cleaning the trackball

Help Line

February 08, 1999|By James Coates | James Coates,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

I have an HP Pavilion 6330 running Windows 98. About once a week, I run into a mouse pointer glitch. The arrow will jump up about 1 inch, but the spot that it clicks on remains the same. In order to select an object, I have to guess where to click by holding the arrow 1 inch above the button I want to select.

There seems to be no pattern as to when it happens - nothing seems to trigger it. The only remedy is to reboot (of course, by putting the arrow 1 inch above the start button). Is this a known problem with Windows 98, and is there a remedy?

Your symptoms are classic ones created by dirty tracking ball contacts in a PC or Mac mouse, although the fact that rebooting seems to fix things might mean a software problem. First, the hardware. Flip the mouse over and you'll find a little plastic door surrounding the track ball that isn't much harder to open than a jar of Tylenol.

Once the ball is removed, use a Q-Tip and alcohol to clean the metal contact points in the mouse innards where the ball normally rests. Wipe down the ball too. You also should check to make sure that the mouse wire is firmly plugged into the back of your computer.

I hope your problem is a straightforward hardware issue and that this bit of routine maintenance will solve the glitch. If not, click on Start and then Settings and Control Panel and select the Mouse icon. This brings up a large number of choices.

The most likely suspect is under a heading of StepSavers to ``Automatically move pointer to default button or center of dialog box.''

Turn this feature off.

If both these fixes fail, you can throw some money at the problem by purchasing a replacement mouse and loading the software that comes with it.

I have Windows 98 and every time I go to the computer store I see Windows 98 Plus. What is Windows 98 Plus and is it worth buying?

I think most critics will agree with me that there is far less reason to buy the Plus CD for Windows 98 than had been the case with Windows 95, when the supplemental CD-ROM contained major features for hard disk management, Internet browsing and desktop display that were not in Windows 95 proper.

Most of these features were included in 98, and so the Plus disk is mainly a toy chest filled with some very slick games, including Space Cadet Pinball. It also includes a superb music player that lets you insert a CD and then go out on the Internet to find a database that will show the name of the disc and the titles of every track on it, along with Web-based information about the artist on the CD, the style of music and other germane stuff.

Also on the Plus CD are a large number of desktop themes and screensavers that do wonders for dressing up the otherwise mundane look and feel of a PC.

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