Do You Need A Mousepad? Yes, Here’s Why

The humble mousepad does not get the attention it really deserves. Many folks wonder if they really even need a mousepad.

Even though computer mice can work on almost any surface, we’re going to talk about all the reasons you should still consider adding one to your workspace. With today’s optical computer mice, you don’t absolutely need a mousepad, however, there are many reasons why you should still use one. 

You should be using a mousepad as this results in smoother and more predictable mouse movement while protecting your desk and adding comfort to your wrist at the same time.

Let’s dig a little deeper into all the reasons you actually need a mousepad.

mouse on desk mat with planner in corner

6 Reasons You Should Be Using A Mousepad

Here are some reasons you should invest in that mousepad today.

Smoother Mouse Movement

First and foremost, the smoothness of mouse movement is much better on a mousepad than whatever your work surface is. Most mousepads are cloth which gives you a soft and smooth surface for your mouse to glide on.

Desks can have all kinds of bumps, divots, cracks, and other imperfections. This can make your mouse movement experience very jittery.

When you place a cloth mousepad on your desk instead, you cover up all those imperfections with a smooth and continuous soft surface. The result is a super satisfying and smooth mouse sliding experience.

For those that think smoothness is not super important, actually using one will quickly show you how much better using a computer is with a mousepad.

Increased Mouse Slider Life

Unless you are a techie or a gamer, you probably don’t pay attention to the actual sliding surfaces underneath your mouse. All mice come with “gliders” or sliding feet.

The sole purpose of these is to be the slippery part that contacts the surface of your desk or mousepad. See the image below for what these feet look like. This is the bottom of my

Logitech MX Master 3
  • Ergonomic shape for all-day comfort
  • High density tracking sensor
  • Quiet clicks (improvement over MX 3)
  • Magspeed scroll wheel
  • High level of customization & shortcuts
  • Three computer memory settings
  • Pricey, but you get what you pay for.
Check Price on Amazon

When you don’t use a mousepad, these sliding feet make contact with your desk. Chances are, your desk has a more abrasive surface than these sliding feet.

This results in your sliding feet slowly being eaten away day after day when being used without a mousepad. Your mouse will last much longer if you use it with a mousepad.

Considering this MX Master 3 mouse is not very cheap, I protect my investment by using a mousepad.

Better Mouse Tracking

Calling all gamers! This is specifically why you should be using a mousepad. Though gamers rely on tracking very heavily, most non-gamers will also benefit from improved mouse tracking.

As we touched on earlier, mousepads give you a consistent surface for your optical mouse to reference compared to a desk. Desks can have a huge range of different surface finishes and smoothnesses.

Optical mice do not do well with reflective or transparent surfaces. So if you have a beautifully varnished and reflective wood desk, your optical mouse will have trouble here and your tracking will suffer as a result.

If your desk has a very inconsistent surface finish, you will have changes in tracking quality which throws off where your mouse should be. It can be a very annoying experience.

Glass desk owners should be using a mousepad because mouse tracking suffers significantly on transparent surfaces.

Added Wrist Comfort

Whenever I see an opportunity to add an ergonomic benefit to my desk, I invest! Making yourself comfortable at your desk will help with long-term health and comfort.

Not to mention that comfort just makes you want to keep coming back to your desk.

Mousepads give you a nice little boost in wrist comfort. Instead of your wrist sitting on a hard desk, it now has a cloth pad to sit on. Seems pretty minor, but after a long work session or gaming session, you will feel the difference.

Protects Your Desk

Remember how we mentioned that mousepads will save the sliding surfaces under your mouse? Turns out it can also save your desk!

Whenever you have debris on your desk, sliding a mouse on it will drag around these small particles and create small scratches on your desk. Over months and years of doing this, you will see large wear marks of where your mouse sits.

MX Master 3 Mouse on a mousepad desk mat

Also, if you end up eating away at your mouse’s sliding pads, the harder plastic body will start scraping across your desk every time you use your mouse.

Protect your mouse and protect your desk with a mousepad, it’s really that simple.

Mousepads Are Affordable

The last reason you should be using a mousepad is because they are dirt cheap! Even from reputable brand names!

Check out this mousepad from Logitech, it’s under $10. If you don’t go brand name, you can get one much cheaper than this.

Logitech Mouse Pad - Studio Series

What Mousepad Should You Get?

Now that we know mousepads are actually necessary, let’s talk about the different types that are out there and what you should actually get yourself.

I recommend most people actually invest in a desk pad instead of a mousepad. Also known as desk mats, these are essentially much larger mousepads. They can support your keyboard as well as your mouse at a minimum.

Many desk mats out there have a ton of graphic designs so you can really add this as a unique personality piece to your desk.

Desk Mat,Large Mouse Pad 35''×15.6''×0.12'' XXL Extended Gaming Mouse Pad Mat with Non-Slip Base Stitched Eges Mousepad for Computer,Office,Keyboard and Laptop - Vector...
  • 【Elegant Looking】We select pretty and popular patterns ,applied excellent printing technology to ensure color vibrant . It is a good desk and office decor to add some...
  • 【Opitimal Size】The extended desk pad measures 35"x15.6"x0.12 inch ( 89 x 40 x 3 mm), compatible with most Computer / iMac / Laptop . Provide smooth and free movement...
  • 【Washable & Easy to Clean】The xxl mouse pad is designed with washable fabric material, ordinary stains can be wiped cleanly with a wet towel. If you use it for a long...
  • 【Non-slip Base】The bottom of the large mousepad adopt non-slip rubber material. They can be firmly fixed on the desktop to prevent unwanted sliding, also no fear of...
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I’ve been using desk mats for a long time now, and they actually provide a huge aesthetic boost to your desk. This compartmentalizes the desk which makes it seem more organized as well.

desk mat with mouse and keyboard sitting on top.

Gamers specifically should use extra large desk pads so they can have uninterrupted stretches of mouse movement. A large desk pad like this should work for gamers:

I used to recommend wool mats, but pilling is one of the major issues I talk about in my article on the downsides of wool and felt desk mats.

In our last article on computer mice, we talked about many household items that can be used as a mousepad. This is a great list if you don’t have a mousepad on hand. 

How Do Mice Work?

To best understand why you do or don’t need a mousepad, it helps to know how a computer mouse works. If we know how it works, we can know how it can detect movement, and thus, what situations allow it to work. 

Today’s computer mice are known as optical mice, as they have an optoelectronic sensor. If you look under your mouse and you see a little red LED light, that’s an optical mouse. 

If you don’t see a light, you probably still have an optical mouse. It just doesn’t have a visible light emitter, just an infrared light. It might even be a laser mouse. 

You can think of optical mice as mice that basically have a camera inside. The camera is constantly viewing the illuminated surface of your table or surface, and judging if there is movement. 

Once it detects movement, it sends that information to your computer. Then your on-screen pointer moves!

What Surfaces Don’t Work With Computer Mice?

How a mouse works tell us much about what we can use with a mouse. It also tells us if we need a mousepad at all. 

Surfaces like glass and anything super reflective would be hard to detect movement. Glass is clear and doesn’t have any good reference points for our mouse.

Reflective surfaces will also be hard. They will just look back at the camera and the camera would see itself.

Otherwise, it can do a great job on most other surfaces! A mouse would have no problem on a smooth and non-reflective surface. 

Photo of author


I'm a big time workspace enthusiast who is constantly experimenting with my setup. Sharing along the way to help people make their own desk setups more functional and inviting, whether it be for productivity or play!

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