My favorite mouse is my Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer 4.0. I bought my first one back in 2009. I love how the scroll wheel smoothly spins. I’ve never had another mouse like it. I want to keep using it forever and ever.

After about 9 years, the left mouse button started acting intermittently. Sometimes when I clicked the button, it wouldn’t register the press. Or while dragging, it would act like I had released the button even though I hadn’t.

I discovered a really interesting YouTube video where user “blimeyolriley” tracked down the issue and shared his clever workaround. The problem is that the left button’s tactile switch (which is soldered onto the circuit board) had started to wear out. The workaround is to steal the tactile switch from another button that you don’t use, and swap them around. The side buttons on this mouse are easy to accidentally click. I don’t use them, so they are a perfect candidate.

The video doesn’t go through the process of disassembling the mouse. It focuses more on the desoldering/soldering part of the process. The actual act of taking the mouse apart is a little tricky. When I tried to do it myself a couple of years ago, I screwed something up when I took it apart. I could never get the mouse to go back together properly. The scroll wheel would get stuck clicked down sometimes. So I simply bought a used mouse on eBay and got rid of my old broken mouse.

Fast forward 2 years, and my replacement mouse started doing the same thing. So I gave the repair process another shot, and took lots of pictures as I tore it apart. I thought I’d share everything here in case someone else has to go through it.

The first step is easy. The two bottom feet actually have screws beneath them. Simply peel them off (I used a small flat blade screwdriver to pry them off). Set them somewhere sticky side up so you can stick them back onto the mouse when you’re all done. Then remove the screws.

With these screws removed, the two halves of the mouse should separate a bit. The other end of the mouse is held together by a couple of large “clips”. I’m not sure I have a better word for them. See below for a better view of what’s going on. Make sure not to break them. I found it easier to peel the side away a bit first:

Here is what it looks like underneath after the top shell comes off:

Here is a better view of the “clips” I am talking about. There are holes in the outer shell that hook into the protrusions circled in red in the picture below. This is where you will start to see some of the filth that had made its way inside of my mouse. This is a great opportunity to clean everything up.

Remove the little cover from the mouse wheel. On mine, it lifted right off, uncovering more dirt and grime:

Unplug the cable going from the wheel to the circuit board. It’s kind of difficult to pull out. It might help to pry the connector up with a small screwdriver. Whatever you do, don’t pull up on the wires. You could accidentally pull out one of the pins.

I removed the scroll wheel next. I don’t think you have to do this, because on the YouTube video the scroll wheel was still in place. This was definitely the most difficult part for me. It made it easier to find space to get the circuit board out though, and gave me more room to clean things out, so it was worth it. On the end closest to the top of the mouse, there is a little peg that goes into a hole that holds it in place. On the end closest to the bottom of the mouse, the tilt wheel is snapped into a hole that allows it to rotate sideways. I popped the peg out first, and then rotated the wheel and it pulled out of the hole it was snapped into. Be careful during this part. You really don’t want to break or damage anything. Here is what everything looks like after it’s removed:

Definitely take advantage of this time to do some cleaning inside! Now, unplug the other cable going to the board, which is the USB cable.

Remove the 3 screws holding the board in place.

There are two screws at the top of the mouse which I completely fail to understand the purpose of. I don’t think you need to remove them. I did, and then confused myself because I couldn’t figure out what they were even holding in place.

At this point, you should be able to tilt what’s left of the mouse wheel assembly up, and lift the board out. You need to lift the bottom of the board up a bit, because the LED for the optical mouse sensor goes into a housing below.

Now follow the directions as outlined in the YouTube video I linked at the top of this post to swap the tactile switches. It would be really cool if we could find a new tactile switch part to use in place of the old one, so we can completely refurbish these old mice. I absolutely love this mouse.

Follow the steps in reverse to put the whole thing back together. Like I said earlier, be very careful with the mouse wheel. Make sure it’s oriented completely perfectly when you put it back together.

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