Absolute Mouse Mode Explained

 Jan 27, 2021   |    Garrett Swindell

When using your computer, the USB mouse is typically in Relative Mouse Mode. Relative Mouse enables the computer to move the pointer to where you move your mouse based upon the location the pointer was at before.

On the other hand, Absolute Mouse Mode (ABS) sends an X and Y coordinate that may be based upon a virtual canvas. This functionality allows you to seamlessly control multiple Windows OS multihead computers as if they were one giant system.

What Operating Systems Support Absolute Mouse Mode?

Microsoft Windows 10 added ABS in one of their most recent updates. Before that, getting Absolute Mouse Mode to work required proprietary drivers on the target computer. This meant Windows XP, 7, 8, and 8.1 all had to have drivers installed by the user to allow ABS Mode to function properly. But, even with full support from Windows 10, ABS mouse can still run into a few problems. The most common issue with ABS Mode occurs when the computer has an active output, but the monitor is not turned on or is disconnected. In this situation, the mouse will still move to the correct location, but it may appear hidden to the user until they get the mouse pointer to an area where it is visible on an available screen.

Linux and Mac do not natively support ABS Mouse Mode at this time unless you install a special driver package that may or may not be available on your kernel. I have also seen Linux engineers manipulate/create an ABS driver. I have not seen an official ABS release for Mac OS, but it’s probably just a matter of time before it happens.

Absolute Mouse Mode Applications

Today, there are many applications that require an ABS mouse. For example, you need an ABS mouse if you are using a KVM switch with computers that have multivideo heads, and you want to seamlessly configure them all so you can glide your mouse from one system to the next. Without the ABS driver, the mouse would only work on the primary video head of all systems, leaving the extended displays untouchable. ABS Mouse Mode is also used in other applications that require precise accuracy, like those that use Wacom Tablets and touchscreens. An ABS driver would be required in these scenarios as well.

What Products Support Absolute Mouse Mode?

Black Box offers several solutions that support ABS Mode, including our Freedom II KM Switches, TC Series KM Switches, and Emerald® KVM Switches. Contact us today to learn more about Absolute Mouse Mode or our KM and KVM products that fully support it.


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About the Author

Garrett Swindell

Garrett Swindell

Product Engineer

Garrett Swindell has 20+ years’ experience programming, implementing server to client communications, and designing intricate control system. As a product engineer, his primary focus is developing connections between users and computers/servers though the use of hardware and software. Garrett assist local and international projects from start to finish with compliance regulations and performing product compliance testing with recognized test houses.

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