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Using Maverick 10.10 I was using an old USB optical Microsoft wheel mouse. It died and I threw a spare on the system but it is way too fast and jerky. I can slow it down using the command

xinput --set-prop "DELL DELL USB Laser Mouse" "Device Accel Constant Deceleration" 5

and I suppose I could make a script to run at startup (for every user), but the mouse is even crazy at the login screen. Is there any way to slow it down permanently for all users and the login screen

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Perhaps if you edit your /etc/X11/xorg.conf file.

See the manual page: man xorg.conf

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