How a 3D Mouse Works in Photoshop: 3DConnexion SpaceMouse Pro Review

How a 3D Mouse Works in Photoshop: 3DConnexion SpaceMouse Pro Review
How a 3D Mouse Works in Photoshop: 3DConnexion SpaceMouse Pro Review

I highly recommend enabling the dominant option in the settings which limits the controller cap to rotate/move at one axis at a time. This is similar to holding the shift key in Photoshop and gives you precise movements by locking it to one-axis at a time. I really wished the QuickView keys worked with Photoshop. If they did, they would let you switch between the different views quickly (default, rotate 90 degrees, top, front, and right). Unfortunately, it's not supported in Photoshop.

The 3D mouse is useful even if you're not doing any 3D work. When you're not on a 3D layer, the controller cap serves as a panning/zooming tool. Move the controller sideways to pan your document around or press/pull to zoom in/out. You can even twist the controller cap to change your brush size. Even though I'm used to the hotkeys in Photoshop, I always find myself using the controller cap to pan/zoom. It's a nice touch and I'm glad they added it.


When Photoshop Extended came out, I was excited about the new 3D features but I didn’t like how difficult it was to manipulate 3D objects. Rotating 3D objects would require some sort of planning-ahead because I always had to pay attention to which 3D move tool was activated (rotate, roll, drag, slide, and scale). I also had to keep pressing Shift+V keys to switch between the 3D modes.

After using a 3D mouse, it’s hard to go back to a regular mouse. It’s simply easier, faster, and more convenient to use the 3D mouse. You’ll need to use a 3D mouse for at least a couple days before you get good at it but I found that if you enable the “Dominant” option in the settings, it would lock the cap to move one axis at a time and make it easier to use. Also, I was surprised to see that it worked on non-3D layers for panning around, zooming in/out, and even adjusting your brush size. And even though I am extremely used to Photoshop’s hotkeys, I find myself using the controller cap instead of Photoshop's hotkeys to pan and zoom.

Although the SpaceMouse Pro is a priceless tool to have, it’s an overkill for most Photoshop users. It cost several times more than the $100 SpaceNavigator (sufficient for most Photoshop users) and the QuickView keys don't work in Photoshop. You're essentially paying more for a nice wrist rest and some modifier/programmable buttons which doesn't justify the $200 price difference between the two models if you only use Photoshop. However, if you use any other 3D software or see yourself getting more into 3D in the future, definitely invest in the SpaceMouse Pro because the modifier and QuickView keys are very useful – they just aren't with Photoshop. Whether you decide to go for the SpaceMouse Pro or the more basic SpaceNavigator, the 3D mouse is definitely a tool you want to try.

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21 comments on “How a 3D Mouse Works in Photoshop: 3DConnexion SpaceMouse Pro Review”

  1. I mainly use my spacemouse pro for 3D work- I do a lot of visualization for the film industry. I use photoshop regularly for generating textures. I would say that this device would not be justifiable for photoshop alone, but the photoshop functionality is certainly a sort of free gift for people who work in 3D programs.

  2. I have a spacemouse, but I can't seem to get it to work with photoshop in 2d. All I want is to control the pan and zoom... but no luck! any tips?

    (my buttons work... just not the pan and zoom).

    1. Do you have the 3Dconnexion software installed? It needs to be installed and loaded into Photoshop. Go to the File > Automate > menu and see if "3DxPhotoshop" is listed under that menu.

  3. I'm back here to say thank you for the great review. I bought a 3D Mouse Pro and it is amazing! I'm very happy with the build quality and finish. It looks as nice in person as the photos in your review.

  4. Super Pots mi hermano , me fascina tu trabajo que realizas...quiero saber donde puedo comprarme uno como estos en España..

  5. Are you sure this works with photoshop cs6? I looked at the supported software page and it only supports up to cs5. And a google search shows that people can't get it to work with cs6.

    1. Hmm... you're right. It does say CS3 - CS5 on the 3Dconnexion website. The forum posts are old and the latest drivers DO support CS6. It even has a specific plugin file for Photoshop CS6. I think it's just outdated info on their website.

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