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Optical Mouse Sensor [What & How]

An optical mouse sensor photographs the surface beneath the mouse at a high rate to ascertain the mouse's movement.

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With technological advancements, mouse sensors have also become advanced. A mouse relies on its sensor to tell it in which direction it is moving and where the cursor should move. Therefore, a mouse needs a good enough sensor to accurately and precisely track its movement.

Key Takeaways

  • An optical mouse sensor photographs the surface beneath the mouse at a high rate and analyzes obtained images to determine the movement of the mouse.
  • Laser sensors use a laser beam to detect surface changes, while optical sensors use LED or IR light and a microscopic camera for image capture.
  • You can clean your mouse sensor by gently wiping it with the cotton swab dipped in cleaning alcohol.

What Is An Optical Mouse Sensor?

Optical mouse
Optical mouse – Image Credit (

The latest mice use optical sensors as the standard for precision and reliability. These sensors capture surface images at over a thousand per second, which are then used by algorithms to calculate mouse movement and translate it to cursor movement.[1]

Optical sensors are faster than any mechanical sensor.[1] For example, the Razer Viper 2 Pro uses an optical sensor (Focus Pro 30k) that offers 30,000 DPI. Therefore, the mouse industry is now adapting to the optical ones due to their performance, ease of use, and wide range of applications.

How To Clean Mouse Sensor

Dirt or stains on a mouse sensor can affect its functionality. Cleaning the sensor, especially the optical one, can recover its performance.[2] I also clean my mouse’s sensors to ensure they work perfectly. You can follow the below steps to clean your mouse sensor:

  1. Recognize the sensor area.
  2. Dip a cotton swab or soft brush into the cleaning alcohol solution.
    Cleaning A Mouse Sensor
    Cleaning Mouse Sensor With Cotton Bud (Image By wikiHow)
  3. Gently clean the sensor by applying little to no pressure.
  4. Leave the sensor to dry for a couple of minutes.
WARNING: You need to clean the mouse sensor very carefully so that you do not damage it.

Optical Vs Laser Sensor Mouse

A Mouse Sensor Located On The Bottom
Corsair Ironclaw RGB Wireless Mouse (Image By Tech4Gamers)

Let us look at the comparison of optical and laser sensors used in modern mice.

Optical SensorLaser Sensor
Uses LED or infrared light source to track movementUses laser diode to track movement
Well-suited for most gaming and general computing needsOften preferred by users with specific requirements
Provides reliable tracking on a variety of surfacesMay struggle on transparent or reflective surfaces
Generally has lower lift-off distanceCan have a higher lift-off distance
Offers a balance between affordability and performanceOften found in expensive high-end gaming mice with advanced features

Mouse Sensor Rattle

If your mouse is rattling when moving, the sensor or its mounting will likely be lost.[3] I have also come across this issue many times. For this, I recommend opening the mouse, tightening the screws, or securing any loose components. If the issue persists, consider replacing the mouse for a quiet experience.

Final Words

In conclusion, an optical mouse sensor feeds the microscopic images of the surface beneath the mouse. Algorithms then process those images to calculate the movement of the mouse. As a result, the mouse cursor moves by the calculated mouse movement. If your mouse isn’t working properly, try cleaning its sensor with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol.

Related Articles By Tech4Gamers:


  1. GeeksforGeeks. What is Optical Mouse? Retrieved from
  2. Freelancers Union Blog. How to Clean Your Computer, Motherboard, and Mouse? Retrieved from
  3. Boards And Mice. Why do Wireless Computer Mice Rattle When you Shake Them? Retrieved from


How do you clean the mouse sensor?

Clean the mouse sensor using the cotton swab dipped in cleaning alcohol. Gently wipe this swab over the sensor area while avoiding applying excess pressure.

How do you fix a mouse sensor?

If your mouse sensor malfunctions, try updating the mouse drivers, cleaning the mouse sensor, or using your mouse over a different surface. This will resolve the issue in most cases.

How do you test the mouse sensor?

The basic test of a mouse sensor is measuring its DPI. You can measure DPI with the help of the DPI Analyzer. The tools and instructions for finding your mouse’s DPI are attached. Please find out the DPI and see how it compares to the expected DPI of your mouse sensor.

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