3D Space Mouse - Worth it or Not?

Trying to decide if I should get a 3D space mouse. Besides just looking and feeling cool using it, does it actually increase productivity?

Some people think so, some not. I think the thing you have to do is get one and try it for a week or so and see how you feel about it. For me it wasn’t a useful addition to my desk. @TheOnlyAaron loves his. Watch one of his Friday live modeling sessions to see him putting it to good use.


Having a spacemouse for a few years, I’ll pop my opinion in. I like mine, I think it’s great. The trouble is I don’t use it very often as I’m so used to certain keyboard shortcuts that I’ve had set up for a long time. I find my hand going back to the keyboard all of the time.

I don’t think “I” model effectively just using the spacemouse. You can set up menu commands to be activated on screen but to me it’s just easier to hit a shortcut key.

Having said that, model navigation is superb compared to using a normal mouse to do that. If I have to orbit quickly or do a lot of zoom, often I’ll just grab the spacemouse at the side to save the finger work. And showing a model to someone is so much easier on the eyes.

I think the best option would be the “enterprise” flagship product that has all the buttons around that you can assign all your shortcuts to as Aaron has. But it’s a pricey investment.

I would say get one you can afford and try it, mine has it’s uses for me and I don’t plan to get rid of it. I doubt I’ll be investing in the enterprise model though.


@Josh.ObJ, I find mine indispensable to my workflow. Without it I feel like a one armed paper hanger.
I recommend giving it a try, I started using mine over 5 years ago. Just like all new tools it takes a while to “natively” master, but once I reached this threshold I never use SU without it. Good luck.


It is all relative, what works for me may not work for you but will for Lindsey and not for Ian.
How you use it is all about your own workflow too. 2 buttons, 12 buttons, who knows… what do you model, what extensions do you use the most, how much is the keyboard built into your amygdala and so on?
I often use a stylus and onscreen keyboard with just ctrl and shift on the two buttons of a spacemouse, very appropriate for vertex tools and subd to name a few tools.
I work on and off with some special needs kids and they all love the freedom of movement, none have ever questioned the lefthandedness.
So what works is what works for you, try it, give it second try, and then see what works for you.


As said… everyone is different… I will say that it does take some time to get used to… once I got used to it, though, I will say that I am far quicker when I am using it. I do a lot of work without it… I can use my mouse with the 3D mouse, or with just the touchpad… the fastest, most productive method, though, includes the 3D mouse, for sure.

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The spacemouse is especially a good addition to the live sessions on a Friday. Everything is nice and smooth. Sat for three hours watching a “normal mouse” modeling session I think the viewers might get a bit ill from zoom jitter. (After all these years, I think I just realised what the “Jitterbug” is).


Ha! Yeah… prevents “mouse zoom induced nausea”


I agree.
Keyboard shortcuts are the fastest means to an end.
I find they’re also the fastest way to navigate, given SU’s powerful set of Camera commands.

Horses for courses … of course.

Whether or not a 3D navigator can aide productivity depends upon which 3D mouse one chooses.
It also depends upon a modeler’s native navigation skills.

• Using any model 3D navigator removes your hand from the keyboard.
• Navigation via keyboard shortcuts is faster than navigating with any type of mouse.
• Clicking a button on a programmable mouse is faster than reaching for keys.

Being a 3D Navigator + a mini keyboard, the “Enterprise” model has the best potential to aide productivity. But its advantage is in the mini keyboard, not the knob.

As for a base model 3D Space Navigator, I have two.
Generally, they sit gathering dust on a shelf.

IMHO, when a user claims a base model 3D Space Navigator speeds modeling, it’s because they haven’t learned how to navigate efficiently in the first place.

The only exception being there’s nothing better than a 3D Space Navigator for silky smooth, professional presentations.

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Simply, yes.

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I find the space mouse indispensable. I have the radial menus programed to lock axis and a bunch of other commands I most frequently use.

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I have been using a Spacemouse Navigator for 2 years now. My models are very complex water treatment plants, with pipes, framework etc, so it has been tremendously useful to be able to “fly” through objects. It is also the best thing for reading PDF files because you can pan and zoom easily because it locks onto the page you are reading. As for productivity; I save at least 30% of my time on a 2 week project.

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This thread is going to confuse the OP as there is no consensus.

FWIW, I existed for years quite happily without a SM. But I also yearned for one for a long time. Then I took the plunge and I immediately notice if I am not able to reach for it and have it work straightaway. Sometimes for no apparent reason, it stops working and I then have to reinstall the driver. That’s a pain at the best of times but it is especially so with a SM as you often have to use the Evans Method to get it working.

I wouldn’t agree. I have the ordinary SM with just two side buttons and I never use either. I don’t use the inbuilt assignable virtual buttons because I find it easier to use the keyboard. I just use the SM for navigation.


I don’t think there ever will be a consensus on this sort of thing. It’s like asking what is the best car or which beverage is the best. Everyone will have different opinions. There is a consensus of a sort. The OP should try one for awhile and make up his own mind.


I respect your opinion, but I’ll take some convincing. I used SketchUp sans SM for years (starting at 5 years old!) with 3-button mice and later trackballs, and was probably above average efficiency in navigation, though not claiming to be as good as you or some others. I now use the basic Space Navigator at home, but am on the road all the time without it. Identical projects take longer and are much more hectic to navigate without. While using the SM at home I jump to the keyboard all the time for shortcuts, but it’s still faster.

So to your question @Josh.ObJ :
Not to purposely repeat others, but I think it does depend on your field. I’m in architecture, most often doing interior millwork, and for me it is the best addition to SketchUp I ever made, including plugins. And it only took me about two 6-hour days to get comfortable.


Is there a “try before you buy” option? I didn’t see one when I was thinking of buying but I’m happy to agree that would be ideal.

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I don’t know if the 3DConnexion folks have any arrangement like that. I suppose a person could contact them to see.

Check your preferred shops return policy, order one, return if you don’t like it.

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I have the Enterprise and find it indispensable. I have the menu buttons programmed so that I don’t need to move my left hand off the unit. Ever. I also bought the CAD mouse from 3DConnexion, and I find it extremely useful as well, especially the radial menu.

The only time my right hand hits the keyboard is to enter a dimension or lock an axis - if anyone has programmed their SM to do this, I’d love to hear about it. I have tried, but not been successful yet.

I wish I had the enterprise, hate to think what I could do with that and my gif recorder.