The Best Mouse for Excel? Logitech MX Master Review
If you use Excel all day every day like I do, then you know it’s important to have a keyboard and mouse you love. I’ve talked about the best keyboards for Excel before, and in this article we’ll take a look at a great mouse that can help us get our job done faster.
The Logitech MX Master Mouse is like the Tesla of computer mice, both in price ($67-$100) and performance. It has a futuristic look to it, and it’s also packed with some great features for Excel users.
The mouse has a dedicated thumb wheel for horizontal scrolling and customizable buttons that you can assign Excel keyboard shortcuts to. Yep, keyboard shortcuts on your mouse!
I’ve been using the MX Master for over two years and I think it’s a great mouse. There is also a newer version called the MX Master 2S, and I explain the differences below.
My Favorite Features of the MX Master
Beyond the futuristic look, the MX Master has some cool features that make it a great mouse for Excel.
- Thumb Wheel for Horizontal Scrolling
- Customizable buttons for Excel and other applications
- SmartShift vertical scroll wheel for smooth and ratchet scrolling
- Rechargeable battery built-in
- Wireless connection with USB Unifying Receiver or Bluetooth for 3 devices
- Gesture Button for even more Excel shortcuts
Let’s take a look at each of these and see how they can help us with Excel.
1. Thumb Wheel
One of the unique features of the MX Master is the Thumb Wheel for horizontal (side-to-side) scrolling. The small wheel is located right above your thumb. You can spin the wheel up or down with your thumb to scroll left or right.
A lot of modern applications and web pages have eliminated horizontal scrolling, but Excel is still one app where we need it. If you have large worksheets with a lot of columns, then you know how time consuming it can be to scroll left or right. We typically have to move the mouse cursor down to the scroll bar on the bottom of the application, or use a keyboard shortcut to find the column we are looking for.
The thumb wheel on the MX Master makes for a much better “column hunting” experience. It scrolls horizontally almost an entire screen width with one scroll up/down of the thumb on a 1920×1080 screen.
The only downside is that you have to remember the scroll wheel is there, and make a habit of using it. If you do a lot of horizontal scrolling while applying filters, then checkout my Filter Mate Add-in to save time with that process.
2. Customizable Buttons for Excel Keyboard Shortcuts
The settings of the MX Master can be customized with the accompanying Logitech Options software. The mouse has 6 buttons that can be programmed.
The cool part is that you can program the buttons for different applications. This is a really handy feature!
For example, the mouse has the typical Back and Forward buttons. When in your web browser these buttons can be used to press the Back and Forward buttons for web browsing.
However, when working in Excel, you can have these buttons navigate to the next/previous tab, undo/redo, copy/paste, or just about any action you can do with a single keyboard shortcut combination. The mouse detects which application you are working in and the customized buttons work automatically. You don’t have to take any extra steps to activate them.
Here’s how to setup the MX Master mouse buttons with custom keyboard shortcuts:
- Select Mouse from the top-left corner in the Logitech Options window.
- Select or add the Application (Microsoft Excel) from the top-right corner.
- Left-click the Forward button on the mouse diagram.
- Choose Keystroke Assignment from the list of actions
- Left-click in the Enter Keystroke box, then press the keyboard shortcut for the command.
That’s it. The mouse button will now press the keyboard shortcut. Open Excel and try it out.
Here is a list of keyboard shortcuts you may want to assign to the Back and Forward buttons:
- Previous Tab (worksheet): Ctrl+Page Up
- Next Tab (worksheet): Ctrl+Page Down
- Undo: Ctrl+Z
- Redo: Ctrl+Y
- Select Entire Row: Shift+Space
- Select Entire Column: Ctrl+Space
- Select First Cell: Ctrl+Home
There are also dedicated actions for Copy & Paste. Just about any dedicated keyboard shortcut can be assigned in the Keystroke Box. If the shortcut is multi-step like Alt, A, C to clear filters, then it will not work with the mouse. However, you could assign Ctrl+Shift+L to turn filters on/off.
3. SmartShift Vertical Scroll Wheel
The vertical scroll wheel on the MX Master is another awesome feature. It has two settings that can quickly be toggled with the button behind the scroll wheel.
The Smooth Scrolling setting allows the wheel to spin freely. You can give the wheel a flick with your finger and it will continue to spin and scroll. This is great if you are on a really long web page, or spreadsheet. You can quickly scroll down to the bottom of the sheet.
With one flick of the wheel I was able to scroll down 8,694 rows. You can have a competition with your co-workers to see who can scroll the farthest. Then make sure to update your resume with your newfound skill… 😉
Clicking the button behind the wheel toggles the Ratchet Scrolling mode. This is for more precise scrolling where the wheel clicks into place with each scroll. On a spreadsheet, the scroll only moves 2 or 3 rows at a time.
The mouse also has a SmartShift feature which allows you to use a combination of both modes. You can keep it in ratchet mode for precise scrolling, and then give the wheel a firm flick and it will click into a smooth scrolling free spin. This allows you to jump down a page, then scroll precisely in the same mode. It’s kind of fun, and you just have to mess with it to figure out what you like.
SmartShift can be turned on/off in the Logitech Options software, and you can also set the sensitivity of how hard you need to flick to get it into free spin.
4. Rechargeable Battery
The worst part about wireless mice is running out batteries right as your finishing a project and trying to get home on time. Fortunately, the MX Master has a rechargeable battery built-in. You charge the mouse with a micro USB cable (included).
The mouse can be used while it is charging. The micro USB connection is on the front of the mouse, so it just looks like a wired mouse while you are charging it. I get over 2 weeks of use on a single charge, and you get a notification on your computer when the battery is running low. There are also battery indicator lights on the mouse.
I also keep one of these Retractable USB/Lightning Cables in my desk and laptop case. It can charge your iPhone, Android or mouse, and makes for a great stocking stuffer!
5. Wireless Connection USB or Bluetooth for 3 Devices
The MX Master includes a small USB wireless receiver that you can plug into your computer to connect the mouse. It uses Logitech’s Unifying technology, which means you can also pair a Logitech Keyboard to the same USB receiver.
The mouse has 3 memory presets for different devices. So you can connect to 3 different computers via Bluetooth or Unifying USB, and press a button on the bottom of the mouse to switch devices.
Checkout my article on the best keyboards for Excel where I talk about the Logitech K270 keyboard. You can connect both the mouse and keyboard to the same USB Unifying Receiver, which helps free up your USB ports.
6. Gesture Button
As you can see in the pictures, this mouse has a thumb rest. It helps place your thumb in the right spot for the thumb wheel.
There is also a button under the thumb rest. Pressing this button brings up Task View where you can see all the open windows on the computer.
You can also perform gestures by holding the button and moving the mouse up/down/left/right. Checkout the image to see what each gesture action does.
The button and gestures are completely customizable. Logitech has pre-built options for navigating and arranging windows, or even media controls like volume up/down. You can also completely customize these gestures, and do so for each application.
That means you can create gestures for 5 additional keyboard shortcuts or actions in Excel. Of course this is going to take some getting used to, but if you are a heavy mouse user then these shortcuts could become your best friend.
What I Don’t Love
This mouse is packed with features that make it a great companion for Excel. If I could change anything about it I would make the Back and Forward buttons bigger. They are hard to find at first, and it definitely takes some getting used to. I guess I have big hands and thumbs, so that might be part of the problem… 🙂
What’s the difference between the MX Master and 2S
Both the MX Master and 2S are physically very similar. The 2S has a new Flow feature that allows you to control two computers at the same time without having to click the button on the bottom of the mouse. If you don’t use 2 computers at the same time then the original MX Master is a great choice.
The MX Master is currently $67 to $79 on Amazon, depending on color. The MX Master 2S can be found for $94 to $99 on Amazon. Each comes in black, blue, or light grey. Both mice are compatible with PC or Mac.
Is the MX Master the Best Mouse for Excel?
That’s a highly subjective question. A mouse is a personal choice. I believe you have to try them to find the one that feels and works the best for you.
When I first got the MX Master I didn’t love it. It was a different feel from my previous mouse (the Logitech M510), and took some getting used to. But I committed to trying it for a few weeks, and now it’s been my daily driver for over two years. It’s a big, comfortable mouse, and the smooth vertical & horizontal scroll wheels are probably my favorite features.
If you’re saying, there’s no way I would pay that much for a mouse, then checkout the Logitech M510 (Amazon Link). You can get that mouse for $15 on Amazon and it also uses the wireless Unifying technology to pair with my favorite keyboard for Excel.
Otherwise, the MX Master is definitely worth a try, and would make a great gift for your favorite Excel geek. 🙂
What keyboard shortcuts would you program the MX Master’s buttons with? Please leave a comment below with your answer. Thank you! 🙂