When I'm at a desktop computer, there are usually mousepads to use, but sometimes I want to use a mouse with my laptop. Using the mouse directly on the table usually results in a less responsive mouse. A couple sheets of paper makes the mouse responsive, but hard to move due to the mouse sticking to the paper.

Getting an actual mousepad is usually hard, because I move around with my laptop a lot and don't want to always bring a mousepad with me. What can I use instead of a mousepad?

  • 2
    Using a ball mouse mover or a lazer pointer mouse?
    Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 4:29
  • @Sompuperoo I wish I still had ball mice. They were fun. But they also collect grime and have to be cleaned every now and then because of that, so laser mice are still better overall
    – Justin
    Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 4:30
  • 1
    Not an answer, nor a hack: If you really move around a lot and need your mouse to work on all kinds of surfaces you should consider getting a mouse that works everywhere. I don't want to advertise, but I made good experience with a Darkfield mouse from Logitech (BlueTrack is the equivalent from Microsoft - but I never used it). They make a couple of mice with this laser technology and it really works on everything you could imagine!
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 20, 2015 at 13:10
  • Is using a joystick for a mouse an acceptable alternative? Does not need a mousepad, but the end result is bigger.
    – Mast
    Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 15:56

13 Answers 13


I find that a folder (with contents in it, otherwise it moves) works well, especially since I almost always have one with me. Plus because it's bigger than a mousepad, I prefer it to a mousepad. Keep in mind that there are many different types of folders, and some don't work well.

  • Binders: no. Binders are slanted
  • Shiny folders: these don't seem to work well. They appear to be laminated
  • Plastic folders: no. These don't work well at all
  • Cardboard/paper folders: these work the best, but some are better than others.

The best folder I've found has a texture:

enter image description here

I'm guessing that this reduces the contact surface with the mouse, making it really easy to move. Every smooth folder I've tried makes the mouse harder to move. Actually, come to think of it, this might make the mouse easier to move than a mousepad; it's been a while since I've actually used a mousepad so I can't compare.

  • Not everyone goes around with file folders with their laptops.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 2:23
  • 5
    @J.Musser True. However, since I am attending a university, I almost always have a folder with me. I was under the impression that answers don't need to work for everybody, just that some people might find it useful, where "some" is still a reasonable population of people. It's not like everyone has styrofoam cups lying around. I never use styrofoam cups
    – Justin
    Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 2:24
  • 2
    To make the mouse easier to move, you could remove the teflon feet or cover them with a piece of duct tape, so that they don't cause so much friction with the surface. Commented Dec 14, 2014 at 10:13

I find that regular printer paper gives a better surface for mice than a table, and I use that all the time. I use 9x13" 20lb. letter/printer paper. So far the only issue is that when the table is slippery enough, the paper may get pushed around by the mouse or your hand. You can get around this by stacking up several papers. The more, the better, to a degree, stability-wise. You can also lick your finger, and wipe it on the bottom of the paper(s), to prevent it sliding, or set one edge under the laptop.

  • 1
    I used glue dots to stick of sheet of paper to my glass desk for mousing purposes. When it gets to gross from hand oils or spills I just replace it. It makes my desk look a lot nicer than using a dirty grimy mousepad.
    – Sidney
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 14:16

You can use a small piece of floor carpet that isn't too thick. It may not be very comfortable, but that totally depends on the material and texture of the carpet. You can even find those which you might like more than the store-bought mouse pads.

Also it is important to check your mouse sensor type. I have a portable usb mouse that is specifically labeled as "for shiny surfaces". It works just fine on glass, table tops and other shiny surfaces, just as it says it would, but surprisingly, it lags and does weird stuff on common mouse pads. Maybe get one of those and forget about carpets and mouse pads.

If you don't care about your table and you don't want to buy a mouse, find a way to make the table surface non-shiny. For example, you could rub some sand paper on the area you're moving the mouse around. The trick is that optic sensor built into the mouse may not focus very well on shiny surfaces because of its flat texture. To help it with the focus, you may increase the surface texture variations by sanding it a bit.

Or as others recommended, just put a standard office sheet of paper under it. Its texture is already good enough for most mice to work fine. But your palm might feel sore after some time because the paper will dry it out and result in additional friction with paper. To counter that, you could wear a glove.


When I'm sitting on the couch with my laptop, I just use the cushion beside me as a pad for my laser pointer mouse. I like it because I'm not limited to a certain area or position of my arm. It requires virtually no pressure, and as long as I keep it on the flat part of the cushion, rather than in the crack between cushions, or on the curved cushion edge, it works perfectly.


Scribble on Paper.

Paper is good (so long as it is nongloss). But if you cover it in scribbles there is more changes for the optical sensor to "see". Thus making it more responsive. Paper is fairly easy to get hold of at most places.

As a more permanent solution, invest in a better mouse. Higher quality mice have better (higher resolution) sensors so can pick up differences on smooother surfaces. My $14 mouse won't work on laminated tables. My old Logitech G5, would work on anything I tried it on (Packaging said it would work on glass, but I never tried).


It might sound odd, but a cloth pot-holder works perfectly. The material is a bit similar to a real mouse-pad, and it's also around the same size. And, it's available in almost any kitchen.

Edit: I'm not sure exactly what type of cloth it is, but it might be cotton+polyester. Here's a picture:

enter image description here

The important thing seems to be that the mouse has something to catch on and prevent it from moving too quickly. That's why cardboard didn't work.

  • 1
    If you don't want to look weird by having a pot-holder on your table, maybe use the laptop sleeve or case. Though of course that is a very nice pot-holder you have there.
    – RedSonja
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 7:13

If its an optical mouse, this is the best one ever. Open the pdf at the provided link, print and use. When it gets dirty/wears out, print a new one.

Sample of the printout pdf

  • 1
    This is really the best light weight cheap mouse pad solution!
    – petergus
    Commented Jul 8, 2017 at 15:35
  • damn this trick is gold! :D one bonus tip: you can cover the paper surface with a transparent tape
    – Winner1
    Commented Feb 2, 2023 at 7:08

If your problem is simply just getting the mouse to move freely over the surface either traditional desktop or an improvised mouse pad try this. Take sticky tape such gaffer tape or otherwise with a backing that wont catch on the table.

And put tape over the pads under the mouse that are designed to help the mouse move freely under regular use. Sounds strange but works for me when I am using the mouse on surface that has little friction.

For a portable mouse pad, just tear the PVC cover off a letter/A4 sized notebook. I find they work fantastic and are stiff so wont crumple, and easy to find.


Use an eating plate, it will work like a charm! Basically any metallic eating plate (I hope there is one in your home) will do the job for any optical mouse.

  • 1
    Good answer! (And welcome to Lifehacks SE!) Unfortunately, it's getting flagged as low quality because of its length. Could you expand on it a bit? What kind of plate, etc?
    – Mooseman
    Commented Mar 6, 2015 at 19:08

My favorite mousepads are soft tablet covers, sold at many "dollar stores". A little doublestick tape keeps them from sliding, if that's a problem. They're easy on my hands.

  • 2
    I had a neoprene laptop case that I used as a mousepad for a period of time. +1
    – Shokhet
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 20:59

Funnily enough, although it is slow, skin works well for a mouse.

Sometimes I have a glass coffee table I'm working on, no valid surface for the laser mouse I use. I found out a couple months ago that actually if I base the mouse on my palm, or my leather wallet, it works as well as a mousepad, although it is slower.

  • 1
    Could you expand on this more? How would you get a skin mousepad?
    – michaelpri
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 0:50
  • So, sometimes I have a glass coffee table I'm working on, no valid surface for the laser mouse I use. I found out a couple months ago that actually if I base the mouse on my palm, or my leather wallet, it works as well as a mousepad, although it is slower.
    – SAS2507
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 1:05
  • You should edit that into your answer.
    – michaelpri
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 1:06

The simplest solution may be to replace the mouse. Standard optical mice only work on a limited selection of surfaces. A laser mouse performs much better in this regard, so you won't need a mouse pad in most circumstances.

That also has the benefit of liberating you from the constraints of the mouse pad:

  • a mouse pad has a limited size, so you have to expend effort on keeping the mouse from running off the pad.
  • when the mouse pad is thicker than a sheet of paper, your wrist is bent back. That's uncomfortable and increases the risk of wrist problems.

You can easily make a mousepad for free by placing cardboard inside newspaper. I also use a mouse this way.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.