Compare: Thumb VS Finger Trackball Mouse



Do you know the actual difference between a thumb and a finger-operated trackball mouse?

Seems like a silly question. One can easily infer the difference: one is a thumb-operated mouse, and the other is a finger-operated mouse, but there is much more to know about “Thumb vs Finger Trackball Mouse” if you actually intend to use it.

Don’t worry, after reading this article, you will know everything about thumb vs finger trackball mice and also get an idea of which one could be the best trackball mouse for you.

Things are not as simple as it seems. Before writing this article, it was difficult for me to decide where to start. Anyhow, I have tried my best to cover all the aspects.

Let’s identify some major differences between a finger and thumb-operated trackball mouse. Below is the table that quickly summarises the different characteristics that both mice have.

Finger Trackball vs Thumb Trackball Mouse – The Difference and Similarities

Finger Trackball Mouse

Thumb Trackball Mouse

The trackball is placed on the top of the mouse.

The trackball is on the side of the mouse.

Can use any finger, including thumb, to move the trackball.

Use only your thumb to move the trackball.

Varying size trackball mouse some bigger than thumb trackball mouse.

Varying size side trackball

Finger trackball can be used with either hand, ambidextrous design.

Comfortable ergonomic design optimized for one hand.

Buttons are placed around the trackball.

Buttons are arranged like a standard mouse.

Surface independent tracking.

Surface independent tracking.



Thumb Trackball Mouse

Thumb-operated trackball mice are much like standard mice with a trackball fixed on the side to move the cursor. You pretty much hold it like a regular ergonomic mouse, and the layout of the buttons is almost like a standard mouse except the cursor is moved by thumb control.

The side-mounted trackball mouse has a relatively smaller trackball than the centrally placed trackball mouse. Because integrating traditional mouse design with the trackball is a bit challenging.

In a thumb-operated trackball mouse, you have two main buttons, left and right, and a scroll wheel. Some side trackball mice also offer more than two buttons placed around the two main buttons.

Mouse with side trackball can only be used with the dominant hand. It could be right or left hand.


Finger Operated Trackball Mouse

Finger-operated mice are more versatile mice and can be used with either hand or with any finger you can say these mice have an ambidextrous design. Usually, the index or middle finger is used mainly for rolling the ball. In a typical finger trackball mouse, the ball is placed in the center on top of the mouse, and the buttons are placed around it.

A top-mounted trackball mouse can have more buttons than a thumb trackball mouse. The scroll function is incorporated by placing a rotatable scroll ring around the trackball, which can be rotated in both directions.

Some finger-operated mice have scroll wheels like regular mice but are set as side scroll wheel. So you have enough options to choose from as per your comfort level.

Does Trackball Mouse “Ball” Size Matter?

Yes, trackball size does matter. The diameter of the trackball plays an important role. A bigger trackball allows your fingers to spin the trackball to cover more cursor distance on the screen. With smaller trackballs, you have to repeat the process to get the pointer to the point where you want the pointer.

Trackball mouse ball sizes

A big trackball also reduces the physical movements of fingers and saves your hand from stress and fatigue.

A thumb trackball mouse is suitable for a single-screen system. If you want to work on multiple screens, a finger-operated with a larger ball is more suitable.

Because it would be difficult to get your pointer to glide on multiple screens with a thumb track mouse, especially screens with high resolution, by rotating the side mouse ball, your thumb could start hurting.

Trackball Movement Control

Factors that can influence the movements of the trackball mouse are the sensor and how much the trackball is exposed for the thumb or fingers to spin it.


Thanks to modern sensors, which allow you to configure the DPI of the sensors to control the speed. Suppose you feel that the mouse trackball is not moving fast enough or moving slowly in one finger movement on the trackball. In that case, you can increase the DPI value to get the pointer rolling fast and far.

Trackball’s Operating Surface Area

Extra exposed protruding trackball area could also help control the movement of the trackball mouse and the effort required to move the cursor. With a more exposed sphere of the trackball, your fingers get more space on the ball to control the trackball, and you can make more precise movements.

Finger trackball mice have a more exposed trackball area. That’s why they are more suitable for precision work. While the thumb trackball mouse has less exposed area, and mouse balls are also small.

Whose Ergonomics are Better Thumb or Finger Trackball Mouse?

Both mice use hand fingers to control the cursor on the screen. The main difference is the placement of the trackball. A thumb trackball mouse is more like a standard mouse.

Thumb trackball mice are designed ergonomically to support your hand with an easy-access trackball with the thumb. Mostly these mice have contour shapes to keep your hand at ease.

One problem that you can run into is that it could put stress on your thumb for several hours regularly, so you might get thumb mouse pain in the long run. But if you keep your posture right and have the proper size mouse that can fit well in your hand, you can avoid these issues.

A finger-operated mouse allows you to work with multiple fingers in both hands, which is great. If you feel that your one hand is tired, you can always switch your hands and give some rest to the tired hand.

Suppose you have a mouse hand problem or suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. In that case, the finger-operated trackball mouse has better ergonomics than the thumb-operated mouse because you don’t have to grab or pinch the mouse to operate it, which could be a relief for your aching hand.

The top-mounted trackball mouse is best for better control and ease of access.

Kensington, a renowned trackball mouse manufacturer, surveyed to find why users prefer trackball mice over other mice.
The survey revealed the following top three reasons why more computer users are adapting trackball mice.

  • Speed and Accuracy

  • Ergonomics

  • Lack of space

The below infographic chart depicts the percentage of users who voted for the reasons mentioned above to adopt the trackball mouse.

Survey Reveals Why Users Switch from a Traditional Mouse to a Trackball for Their Computing Needs Infographic chart

Accessibility Wise which is the Best Mouse Thumb or Finger Trackball Mouse?

Accessibility-wise, the finger trackball mouse is the winner in every way. It usually has a bigger trackball and a more open surface than the thumb trackball mouse. This allows you to freely put your fingers on the trackball to rotate it with ease.

Being able to work with both of your hands and with any hand finger makes it more versatile.

Finger VS Thumb Trackball Mouse Suitability in Different Scenarios

Trackball Mouse For Daily Work

You can use a thumb-operated trackball mouse for everyday casual use or at the workspace. You can grab the mouse like a standard mouse, which is instinctive in a way. Most thumb mice are ergonomically designed with a tilt so your hand position can remain in a natural position. In this way, it will pose less stress on your wrist.

Trackball Mouse For Games

Trackball mice are not ideal for playing games, particularly games like FPS, but a thumb ball mouse can be used to play casual games or MMO type games. In particular, the thumb track mouse is a good candidate for VR games. It provides good maneuverability, better than a non-trackball mouse.

Trackball Mouse For Productivity

A trackball mouse finger or thumb-operated could be an apt choice for professional work, specifically for creative work that requires precision. For example, graphic design works, CAD-based architectural design, 3D modeling, etc.

Trackball mice provide more accurate pointer positioning as compared to standard mice.

Trackball Mouse For Carpal Tunnel or Wrist Pain Condition

For wrist pain, trackball mice are great. Trackball mice do not require you to move your wrist to move the pointer. You use an attached trackball to point the cursor. Both are suitable for mouse pain problems.

Also, both types of mice are suitable for CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) issues. To deal with carpal tunnel syndrome, keep your hand and forearm at ease to stop the pain and prevent the CTS problem from growing. Trackball ensures less movement of the wrist, forearm, and shoulder, which is helpful in CTS conditions.

A thumb-operated mouse that is semi-vertical can help in hand pain situations. But still, the finger trackball mouse is more appropriate because you can use it with both hands.

Pros and Cons of Trackball Mouse

  • Provide ease of use and comfort.

  • Can make small, precise moves handy for creative works like CAD or graphic designs.

  • You can use it anywhere without worrying about the type of surface.

  • You can have wired or wireless trackball

  • Best for extended use

  • Can have programmable buttons

  • Wider operating system support, like Windows, macOS, and Linux

  • Suitable for server rooms where space is less to operate a standard mouse.

  • Significantly reducing wrist, arm, and shoulder movement help eliminate related pain.

  • Helpful for carpal tunnel syndrome and RSI related issues.

  • Suitable for virtual reality games.

  • Takes time to get used to it.

  • Excessive use of fingers could be strainful for fingers.

  • Not ideal for competitive fast games like FPS.

My recommended best trackballs

If you feel that finger operated trackballs where the ball is placed in the center, I would suggest buying Kensington Orbit Trackball or Kensington Expert mouse.

If you are looking for more precision works thumb trackballs should be your choice. Because thumb trackballs offer more accuracy. The finest mouse among thumb operated trackballs is Logitech ERGO M575 or Logitech M570.

Once you start using trackball you will forget the regular mouse or vertical mouse. Because trackball is a pointing device that has better ergonomics and can be used as a gaming mouse.

Choosing between thumb trackballs and finger trackballs is a matter of personal preference


Regardless of whether you use a side-mounted ball or a top-mounted trackball mouse, Trackball mice are quite addictive once you get accustomed to it, which takes time. Both types of trackball mice have their own comfort levels. Trackball mice are great for professional work and good for physical hand health. Gamers can also use it, but it takes more practice, and you have to develop expertise with time and practice. Once you get in the flow, it works like a charm.

This article Thumb vs Finger Trackball Mouse has covered almost all possible aspects of the Trackball mouse, let me know what you think.

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