Multiple mouse cursors: ME WANT!


Crotchety UI Nitpicker
I have two mice. I can hook them both up, and they both work. The problem is that they both control the same cursor. That's mildly useful in its own right, but it would be very useful if I could have TWO cursors, each controlled by its own mouse.

This may seem like a somewhat silly idea, and I'm sure there's no built-in support for it in OS X. But I find it hard to believe nobody's ever hacked up a way to do it, but all I can find so far are cries for such a feature similar to my own. :( So, is there any way? Any way at all? Heck, just for the geekery of it, I'd be interested in a Windows or Linux solution, too.

I really think this ought to be built into the OS, if only to pave the way for effective touch screens. I would so love to be able to manipulate all three RGB sliders in Photoshop at the same time with my fingers. And it would also be very cool to control iTunes' equalizer settings the same way you would on real audio hardware.

This is something that needs doing, IMO. I also think it would be highly marketable, and not terribly hard to implement at the OS level. C'mon Apple, it's time to push that envelope!

What do you think?
Yes, but for those of us who are... it's a tantilizing idea. :D

Yeah, I've thought of it before. But alas, I am not a programmer.
I really guess that probably about 0.01% of all Mac users out there would appreciate such a feature. When that makes more than a few thousand customers who'd _pay_ for this feature, then someone's probably gonna make it. Btw.: Even ambidextrous people will have a hard time actually moving both mice/cursors correctly. You want to move Photoshop's RGB sliders at the same time? That's three hands, btw. And: There's a choice of colour selectors that do pretty much what you're probably aiming for. And: Are you sure you'll find colours by using that "technique" that you _wouldn't_ find by the current system? Click on the front colour in the tool palette and look at how that colour selector works for you. Much better than moving two of three RGB sliders at a time...
When I mentioned the RGB sliders, I was talking about the touch screens. Even if you can't use two MICE, you should be able to have multiple clicks/drags going at the same time. This would require OS support. And that would almost have to begin with support for multiple mice.

I would not particularly care to use RGB sliders with three mice (I can handle a mouse with my left hand, but I find it hard to use a mouse with the third hand I have growing out of my forehead ;)), but controlling them with my fingers would be great.

It's not so much a matter of picking colors as it is with color adjustment and filters. It would just be much more efficient to be able to tweak them all without having to go back and forth. Most image filters have at least a few sliders, and a lot of the time it takes a lot of fiddling to get the right result.

The possibilities with such a technology are endless.
Touch screens and graphics design don't go together for me, anyway. Those touch screens look awful after a short period of time, and if you "slide" your fingers across them, you'll leave marks, anyway. I'm fine with one mouse. :) ... I guess for that specific task of slider control, I'd like to use some USB device with actual sliders...
i love the idea, and the scope, but i'm afraid, i have to agree.

the human can only focus on one object, effectively. the rest goes into peripheral vision. this means that while you can see the other cursor, your brain won't be working out how to use it. you would still be working one cursor at a time, you would feel like you were using both, but actually, really, your process would be left, right... left again... right, left, right; not both at the same time, at which point, two cursors becomes useless.

i agree wholeheartedly with the touchscreen though. the eq in itunes is a wonderful example. could this also work with tablets? you could have a stylus glove or something, with blunt points on the ends of your fingers. you could digitally finger paint. you could play the piano in garange band...
Fingerworks (now defunkt alas) made nice "keyboards" that were actually touchpads. They support multiple contact points, and gestures, to manipulate the interfaces in applications. One problem is that it requires special programming for each application, if you want anything else than the global gestures. They are cool though, the only zero impact keyboards I've seen except the projected varieties. I've got a Touchstream LP myself...
I've had the same wish, I think anyone can learn to be ambidextrous, and having two cursors would at least allow you to divide up the screen in half and cut down on cursor travel time.

Here's a company that allows you to use the entire hand... both hands to manipulate!

Check out the demo movies!
Ambidextrous shmambidextrous; who wants to take up extra space on their desk for another mouse they'd use maybe one second every day (on the outside)?

I mean, you can pick up two pencils at once, but do you write letters that way? one hand doing page 1, the other doing page 2? We as a species can't focus our control over multiple things at once.

More useful (for this purpose) would be the cursor *splitting up into three (for example) cursors* when you hold Option (for example) over a sliders pane (such as the HSB adjustment panel) to drag all sliders at the same time.

That having been said, I would never, ever, ever use that feature.

But who knows?
I can't can't think of any case where I'd want to slide multiple sliders together as one, though.

We can control more than one object at a time pretty well. I don't type with one hand. I don't play video games with one hand. Heck, my hands move pretty dynamically and independently even when I eat (I'm a bit of a pig that way; my mouth is never empty for more than half a second). I see no reason why two mice would be overwhelming. (And yes, I can rub my belly and pat my head just fine! ;))

It definitely WOULD take some getting used to, though. I have a hard time using menus with my left-side mouse as it is. But no more trouble than I had with my right hand when I first started using computers. I'm confident I could adjust to it if I had proper motivation....but as it is I only need to use my left mouse when my right hand is busy with the number pad or something.
I am not sure how much two mouses with two cursors make sense with only one user, but there are other situations:

two users on one computer ! (and not only for gaming)
multi-finger input ! (like on a piano keyboard, for music or other art)
multi-dimensions manipulation ! (chemistry)
Having more than one cursor is great for any kind of visual work. When you work on a car, do you just use one hand because you can't focus on two? Working in an editing environment, I'm assuming that most editors would love to manipulate the video as if they were touching it. Watch Minority Report as an example. A person is more ingaged with two hands, they feel like they can move objects around and manipulate them.

When a sculpture works with clay, do they tie one hand behind their back because they cannot focus on two hands?

We are two handed creatures, we have already learned how to use two hands, just using one hand on the computer is like loosing an arm in real life.

I think the root of this discussion stems from the fact that some of the users here work only with text, and yes, with writing, you are only working with one cursor, one pencil. But there are other things that people use the computer for than just writing.
One other simple problem this idea presents is that of idiots.

I remember at school, you'd regularly get idiots plugging their mice into the side of your iMac (or the other side of your keyboard) and fighting the cursor with you, trying to get to the close button on the window you were typing in.

The only thing worse was when they plugged in another *KEYBOARD* and either typed Cmd+Q or Cmd+Power (which for some reason used to freeze every single iMac our school had).
Viro said:
You do both of them at the same time?

lol. Actually, I was referring to the two handed use of either guitar OR piano. But now that you mention it, yes, I'm working on a song where I try to pull of doing both.... it's a little difficult.
I personally have wanted this for a long time, so yeah, i think it's a great idea :)

Also i don't agree that the percentage of users that would benefit would be so small. Some of apples biggest bulk sales must surely be educational establishments. I am a music tutor and find myself constantly pointing at the screen to a shortcut or option. I use my iphone as a wireless mouse to guide the mouse without having to take control away from the student, but it would be much more practical if we could both use a completely separate mouse with an independent cursor.

I'd be very keen to see apple include this feature ;)
My wife and I are illustrators and enjoy doing projects together. Unfortunately, there are no industry-grade programs that offer live co-op. Having two cursors seems like the simplest solution. We have a very large screen and multiple pen tablets. I'd pay up to $150 for an application that would allow us to do that.