Debian lets you make a lot of configurations to even the smallest of the system modules, because it is an open source OS. One thing that you can configure, among these, is the way you want to use your external USB mouse. In this article, we will describe how to make the following changes to your mouse settings:

  • Set either left/right button as the primary button (through Debian Settings utility)
  • Configure Mouse Speed (through Debian Settings utility)
  • Enable/disable Natural Scrolling (through Debian Settings utility)
  • Configure Acceleration Profile (through Gnome Tweaks)
  • Highlight pointer location when Ctrl key is pressed (through Gnome Tweaks)
  • Middle Click Paste (through Gnome Tweaks)

You can run all the commands and procedures from this article on a Debian 10 Buster system and even on slightly older versions of Debian.

Make Mouse Configurations through Debian Settings Utility

If you prefer using the GUI for performing simple administrative tasks, you can make use of the graphical Settings utility.

You can access the Settings either through the Application Launcher search or by accessing it as follows:

Click on the downward arrow located at the top-right corner of your Debian desktop and then click the settings icon from the following view:

Settings drop-down menu

In the Settings utility, you need to click on the Devices tab, and then the Mouse & Touchpad tab in order to make the required configurations.

Alternatively, you can directly launch this view by entering relevant mouse and touchpad keywords in the Application Launcher search, as follows:

Mouse and Touchpad

This is how the Mouse & Touchpad view looks like:

Mouse & Touchpad settings

You can make the following settings through this view:

1. Set either left/right button as the primary button (through Debian Settings)

To make the mouse use more comfortable for a left-handed user, you can swap the order of physical buttons both on mice and touchpads. In the General panel of the Mouse & Touchpad view, click on the button you want to use as a primary button.

2. Configure Mouse Speed (through Debian Settings)

Not all mice(hardware) move the pointer perfectly at the default mouse speed set on your Debian desktop. You can adjust how fast or slow the mouse pointer moves by sliding the Mouse Speed slider left or right, on the Mouse panel of the Mouse & Touchpad view.

3. Enable/disable Natural Scrolling (through Debian Settings)

By enabling/disabling natural scrolling, you can configure whether scrolling moves the content or the view you are on. Turn the Natural scrolling slider button, in the Mouse panel of the Mouse & Touchpad tab, On or OFF in order to enable/disable natural scrolling.

Make Mouse Configurations Using Gnome Tweaks Tool

The Gnome Tweaks Tool also lets you make some configurations to your USB Mouse. In order to install this utility, open the Debian Software Manager and look up for Gnome Tweaks:

GNOME Tweaks

Click on the similar search result that you see above and install it on your system.

Now open the Tweaks tool from the system Dash and open the Keyboards & Mouse tab:

Keyboard & Mouse Settings

You can make the following settings through this view:

1. Configure Acceleration Profile

The Acceleration Profile drop-down on the Keyboard & Mouse view lets you choose among three profiles:

Default: This profile ensures that the mouth pointer moves very smoothly and accurately when moving short distances.

Adaptive: This profile takes the current speed of the device into account when deciding on acceleration.

Flat: This profile adds a constant factor to all device deltas, regardless of the speed of motion.

2. Highlight pointer location when Ctrl key is pressed

The pointer location feature can be turned on by using the slider button. When this feature is turned on, you can highlight the location where your pointer is currently located simply by hitting the Ctrl key.

3. Middle Click Paste

If your mouse has a wheel scroller between the left or right button, or a third button between the two, you can use it for pasting copied content(text, images etc.). You can turn this feature on or off using the slider button adjacent to Middle Click Paste in the Keyboard & Mouse view.

So these were the mouse configurations you could make using the Settings UI and the Gnome Tweaks Tool. There are some other settings that you can make using the Dconf Editor or some command-line utilities; we will discuss those some other time!

Configure Mouse Settings on a Debian System
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Karim Buzdar

About the Author: Karim Buzdar holds a degree in telecommunication engineering and holds several sysadmin certifications. As an IT engineer and technical author, he writes for various web sites. You can reach Karim on LinkedIn