Without an app: Increase mouse pointer speed on Mac

On the Apple Mac, the cursor speed for the mouse / trackpad can be set in the system preferences. However, the scale there does not release the maximum that can be achieved for the pointer speed of the mouse on the Mac. If you want to set the cursor speed even higher than Apple intended for faster work on the Mac, better playing of shooter games or for other reasons, then that is possible - and you don't even need one App Therefore. All you need is a terminal command, which I'll show you in this guide. 

Increase the mouse pointer speed on the Mac without an additional app, faster than possible in the system settings. Here you can find the right terminal command for the cursor speed.
Increase the mouse pointer speed on the Mac without an additional app, faster than possible in the system settings. Here you can find the right terminal command for the cursor speed.

Mouse cursor speed in the system settings

With the system settings, the macOS operating system already offers a good way to make fine adjustments for input devices. In addition to the keyboard, there are also setting options for the mouse and trackpad. This is how you find (from macOS 13 Adventure) the area for the mouse settings on the Apple Mac:

  1. Click on the in the top left Apple logo ()
  2. Now choose the System settings ... from
  3. Scroll down and select Mouse or Trackpad from
  4. In both categories you can operate a controller under "pointer movement".
  5. From "Slow" to "Fast" you can try several intermediate steps
In the macOS System Preferences you have a limited choice for setting the mouse speed.
In the macOS System Preferences you have a limited choice for setting the mouse speed.

In the background, a numerical value is assigned to the selected pointer speed of the mouse. The fastest setting has a value of 3. You can find out which setting or which value you are currently using in the terminal. This is also the next intermediate step to individual mouse speed on the Mac.

Find out the current mouse speed as a numerical value

You need this for that Port, in which you can set an individual value directly afterwards. First, to get the current mouse cursor speed setting as a reference, open Terminal (from the Utilities folder, via Spotlight using command+spacebar and "terminal"-Enter+Enter or via the launchpad). Then you enter this command there and confirm it with the Enter key:

defaults read -g com.apple.mouse.scaling

If you have set the maximum cursor speed for the mouse in the macOS system settings, the value 3 will be displayed in the terminal as described above. If that's too slow for you, you can increase it. I will show you how to do this in the final step of this guide.

To the max: Increase mouse pointer speed on Mac

To increase the pointer speed of the mouse on the Mac as you wish, leave the terminal open directly. Then enter the following command with a numerical value of your choice in American decimal notation - for double the current value 3 that would be 6.0 - and confirm the whole thing with the Enter key:

defaults write -g com.apple.mouse.scaling  6.0

The change is not applied immediately. So if you still don't notice a change in the cursor speed of your Mac mouse, then that's normal. The new value is only applied after restarting the computer. So click on that in the top left Apple logo and then in the menu there reboot.... Once the computer has started up again and you have logged in, the new value for the mouse pointer speed will take effect.

Important note: If you open the mouse options in the system settings again after the restart, the speed will be reset again. So after changing with the terminal command, make sure to leave the mouse settings closed. Thanks to Peter for pointing this out.

Here is a query of the mouse pointer speed in the terminal, before which I set the value to 10.0. That's pretty fast compared to default settings. But you can get used to that too.
Here is a query of the mouse pointer speed in the terminal, before which I set the value to 10.0. That's pretty fast compared to default settings. But you can get used to that too.

Additional info: acclimatization, undo settings, fine-tuning

If you choose a much higher speed than what you are used to, then it will probably take some time to get used to handling the Mac with the new setting. But if you work a lot with the mouse, it won't take longer than half an hour for the corresponding muscle memory to begin to form. With a faster cursor, you not only have to move the mouse less. Individual steps in certain programs and menus also become quicker over time. But as I said: It takes a little getting used to.

If you don't get along with the higher cursor speed at all, then that's no problem. The customization step shown above via the terminal can be easily undone. Simply call up the mouse settings and operate the controller described above. If you set it back to "Fast", then the value of the mouse pointer speed is immediately reset to 3.0. In addition, the underlying steps up to and including "Slow" can also be selected. The intervention via the terminal does not override the options in the system settings.

The last thought on the subject concerns the fine tuning: If 3.0 is not enough for you, but a value of 6.0, 7.0 or even 10.0 is much too fast for you, then simply use lower values ​​that lie in between. Maybe a tuning to 4.0 or 5.0 is enough for your purposes. You can enter and use all of these values ​​with the command shown above. The only time-consuming thing is that you have to restart the Mac each time for the change to take effect. But once the whole thing is done, then you use exactly the cursor speed with which you are most productive. 

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4 Responses to “Without an app: Increase mouse pointer speed on Mac”

  1. Offtopic: Blog layout seems to be shot. It is hardly possible to enter name and email here. After that an error message appears.

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