Review: Logitech Control Center (LCC) for Snow Leopard

USB Overdrive has been a mainstay on my Macs for a long time, from Microsoft’s first laser mouse to my current Logitech multi-button monster. LCC was always pretty terrible, and a previous version didn’t even recognize all the buttons on my MX1000 (on their own mouse!).

But with the recent update for Snow Leopard, USB Overdrive (and Steermouse) does not support all of the buttons on several Logitech models. A fix is promised to come soon, and while I love USB Overdrive, promised features can take years to materialize, if they ever do. Some people are also saying that setup is even more convoluted than before (try adjusting tracking speed on 20 app profiles with 2 pop-up menus each). So in the mean time, I decided to give the free LCC 3.1 a try. I took some screenshots and notes of my USB Overdrive settings then used it’s own uninstaller to remove it completely.

The LCC install went smoothly and after a restart, it recognized my MX1000 with no problems. I immediately notice that tracking is a little smoother. I also notice that vertical scrolling is extremely slow and/or high resolution. Better yet, tracking speed is a universal setting and not per-application. Scrolling, however, is per-app and even on the fastest setting is still slow for some. Tweetie, for example, scrolls slower on the full setting than USB Overdrive ever did. But I’m already getting used to this.

LCC’s only other drawback is that there is no application profile overlap or punch through. I cannot, for example, make a profile for iTunes and reassign only the mouse thumb buttons perform keystrokes Command-[ and Command-] for back and forward, but use my global settings for everything else. In fact, I can’t find a way to even copy my global settings into a new profile to at least have a common starting point. I tried using the “nothing” assignment in the pop-up menus for other buttons, but that just made them do, indeed, nothing. I’d love to know if I’m just missing the obvious here.

On the positive side, LCC 3.1 has fixed a few problems I was having with USB Overdrive and had mistakenly attributed to the mouse. The “back” thumb button was frequently registering two clicks when I’d hit it once. Tracking was very jerky in World of Warcraft when moving the camera quickly. Horizontal scrolling was more of a horizontal 10-pixel nudge, with no auto-repeat or acceleration. I couldn’t assign anything to keys F16 through F19 because these were apparently new science. All of this is now history with LCC, and I’m loving that my aging MX1000, for which there is no modern equal, may still have a couple of years left in it.

I see that all is not well in forums across the Interwebs. As I said above, I made sure to fully uninstall USB Overdrive before installing LCC, and I don’t think I had any previous LCC preferences on this machine for the new version to pick up. I’m running a Mac Pro 3,1 (Early 2008) 8-core with OS X 10.6.1. There are no other input drivers running. LCC 3.1 is rocking here. For free!

Update, September 2009: I had recently been experiencing a strange bug in Apple Mail, where messages would always be sorted descending by date, no matter how I had set a mailbox previously. I prefer my new messages at the bottom, thanks. I finally traced it back to LCC 3.1. First of all, it makes no sense that this is even possible. Mail doesn’t offer a sorting shortcut or menu item for LCC to stumble on, and I hate to think it’s able to affect anything at a lower level than keyboard shortcuts. I can stop this bug (and several error messages in Console) by running “LCC Connection Utility” in the Utilities folder, and following the brief instructions it presents, but it starts up again as soon as I use AppleScripts in Mail. It looks like a 32/64 bit issue, so I’ll try running Mail in 32 bit mode until this gets sorted.

Update, July 2010: LCC 3.3 is out and finally seems to fix all outstanding bugs for the MX1000 mouse and my Mac Pro 3,1 running OS X 10.6.4. Hoorah!

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