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Mouse Movers make it look like you’re working — and they’re red hot with remote workers

Tech8 USA mouse mover connected to computer
(Image credit: Tech8 USA)

As companies shifted to remote work, some bosses (not ours) would keep tabs on their employees’ productivity by watching to see if they were idle at their computers. If you have to get up from your desk to take a break, go to the bathroom, or get lunch, your mouse is no longer active, and your status in, say, a chat app, will turn from active to idle. 

To combat this intrusiveness, a growing trend among remote workers has been to employ a mouse mover, which makes it look like you’re toiling away at your computer, even if you’re nowhere near your desk.

It’s not just about fooling the boss, though. Mouse movers are also handy for those times when you’re uploading or downloading large files, and don’t want your computer to time out, potentially disrupting the process. Whatever the reason, you can pick up a mouse mover (otherwise known as a mouse jiggler), which will cause your cursor to move, even while you’re not there, and keep your PC from going to sleep.

Generally, mouse movers fall into two categories: software and hardware. Below, we’ll explain how they work, and models you might try. 

Mouse mover apps

A mouse mover app is a program you install which tells your computer to move the cursor around after a certain amount of inactivity. Many of these programs (especially for PCs) are free, and some of the better ones will let you customize how and where your cursor will move around the screen. Others can even automate mouse clicks and keyboard commands for more complex behaviors.

(Image credit: Mouse Move)

The biggest downside to mouse mover software is that it could be detectable if someone can monitor what you install on your computer, or see which applications are running. And, installing mouse mover software onto your computer could be a moot point if your IT department has restrictions on adding software to your PC.

Mouse Jiggler is a simple Windows app that, when activated, will move your cursor around. It has just two options: One that lets you see the cursor as it moves, and one that hides the cursor’s movement.

If you’re looking for software that allows you to do more, check out Mouse Move, which is also available for free. This app can be configured to perform simple mouse movements, or be customized to run on a schedule, hide its icon, and more.

Mouse Mover devices

Another, potentially simpler option is to purchase a mouse mover, or mouse jiggler, which physically sits underneath your mouse and uses a spinning disk to trick the mouse’s optical sensor into thinking it’s moving around. The advantages to these are that they’re a lot easier to set up, and because you don’t have to install anything on your computer, would be undetectable. However, they’re not as customizable as software. 

Mouse mover with laptop

(Image credit: Tech8 USA)

While we haven’t tested it, one popular option on Amazon is the Tech8 USA Mouse Mover ($28). It comes in either a white or black case, and you can get it with different-colored spinning wheels.

Another option is the patriotically named Liberty Mouse Mover ($29 on Amazon). It’s only available in two colors — blue and red — and also uses a spinning wheel to fool the mouse into thinking it’s moving. 

If you don’t want to bother placing your mouse on a device every time you get up, there are also USB dongles you can plug into your computer that will perform the same function as software, and move the cursor around electronically at the push of a button. However, like mouse mover software, you may run into issues if your work computer doesn’t let you install drivers, or plug in USB devices.

Vaydeer Mouse Jiggler connected to laptop

(Image credit: Vaydeer)

One such device is the Vaydeer Mouse Jiggler ($21 on Amazon), which comes with both a USB-A and USB-C plug, so it’ll work with just about any computer. The company claims it will work with Mac, Windows, and Linux, and has a single button to start and stop its operation.

We’re also intrigued by the Honkid Mouse Jiggler ($22), whose dongle has a display that shows just how long you’ve been idle. You can purchase it with either a USB-A or USB-C port. It works with both Mac and Windows machines, and lets you switch between three different cursor movements. 

Mike Prospero

Michael A. Prospero is the deputy editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing the home, smart home, drones, and fitness/wearables categories, as well as all buying guides and other evergreen content. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine or some other cooking gadget.