Re-Map Default Mouse Buttons in Ubuntu Karmic

November 9th, 2009 by Peter Anselmo Leave a reply »

While setting up a new installation of Ubuntu 9.10 for a friend, I ran into a small issue: she was using a 4 button Kensington trackball mouse, and the default key mappings made little sense.  Naturally, there were no drivers or software available, but after some research I was able to figure out how to manually remap the mouse buttons.

Step 1. Find the name of your device.
This step is pretty simple.  Open up a terminal and type in the command:

xinput list

This will list all of the input devices recognized by the X window system.  The names are in quotes, and should be pretty self-explanatory; any external mice should be near the bottom.

xinput list

Step 2. Find your button numbers
Each mouse button has a unique number to the system, and your next job is to find out what they are.  In your termal window type:


This will open a new smaller window.  Whenever your mouse is over the new window, the terminal will print any input it receives.  This includes both movement and button presses.  For each button on the mouse, press it, and write down what button number it displays.  Don’t forget that scroll up, down, left, and right and wheel click are all treated as different “buttons”.


Step 3. Re-Map the buttons
You can modify your your mappings with the following command (substituting your device name from step 1)

xinput set-button-map "Device Name" 1 2 3 4 5

Running the above command will most likely change nothing, it will map all the buttons to their default functions.  Let’s say your left and right click map to 1 & 3 respectively.  If you wanted to switch them (perhaps for a left-handed user) the command would be:

xinput set-button-map "Device Name" 3 2 1 4 5

In the case of my friend (with a Kensington pro mouse) we needed to swap the 1 & 3 with the 8 & 9 buttons.  That looked like this:

xinput set-button-map "Kensington Pro PS/2" 8 2 9 4 5 6 7 1 3

Note that you can enter as many numbers as you like, up to the number of mouse buttons.  Any numbers you don’t enter will be assumed to be the sequential default.  Thus the following command is equivalent to the one above:

xinput set-button-map "Kensington Pro PS/2" 8 2 9 4 5 6 7 1 3 10 11 12 13

Step 4. Saving your mappings
Once you’ve found the correct sequence of numbers, you can have it load automatically by creating a startup item.  Navigate to the following menu:

System > Preferences > Startup Applications > Add

and enter the following:

Name: Mouse Button Remap
Command: xinput “Device Name” 1 2 3 4 5
Comment: “Swapped the left and right click”

Add Startup

Ta Da! You’re Done!


  1. desync0 says:

    Thanks alot! Nothing I’ve tried worked.

  2. Mark says:

    This is great and it works.

    However, what I really want to do is map a mouse button press to a key press on the keyboard.

    Is that possible?

  3. Kudos for ya, worked out of the box! Just configured my mouse to have yet another middle button that is in an ergonomically more comfortable location.

  4. David says:

    Awesome. I’d been trying to get it to work via the GUI of BTNX but found it far simpler using this method. Great step by step instructions that would only be improved by the additional description of disabling a button’s function with a zero. No more wiped facebook posts by accidentally hitting the side button. Yayness.

  5. David says:

    This was required in 11.10 too 😉

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