What computer device makes a clicking sound?

When working on a computer, you may hear various sounds coming from the machine. One common sound is a clicking noise. This clicking sound can come from a few different computer devices.

The Computer Mouse

One of the most common sources of clicking sounds on a computer is the mouse. The mouse has a button on top that users click to select and interact with items on the screen. When this button is pressed down and released, it makes a distinctive clicking sound.

Inside the mouse, there is a switch that is pressed when the mouse button is clicked. When this switch closes, it makes a clicking noise that the computer user hears. This switch mechanism is what produces the clicking sound whenever the mouse button is pressed.

Some types of mice are more prone to making loud clicking sounds than others. For example, mice with stiffer buttons or more tactile switches will be louder when clicked. Gaming mice designed for rapid fire clicking will also be quite loud. Standard mice for regular desktop work typically have soft clicks that are relatively quiet.

If your mouse is making an exceptionally loud clicking sound, it could mean that the switch mechanism needs cleaning or is worn out. But in general, a moderately loud click with each mouse button press is normal.

Troubleshooting Noisy Mouse Clicks

Here are some tips if your mouse is making clicking noises that are disruptively loud:

  • Clean the mouse button with compressed air to remove any dust or debris that could be interfering with the switch
  • Adjust mouse click settings in your computer’s control panel to soften the click
  • Replace the mouse feet/pads if they are worn down
  • Use a mousepad or desk surface that allows the mouse feet to glide smoothly
  • Consider switching to a mouse designed for quieter clicks

The Hard Disk Drive

Another source of clicking or clacking sounds in a computer is the hard disk drive (HDD). Hard drives store data on spinning magnetic platters inside the drive enclosure. Read/write heads move back and forth across the platters to access data as needed.

The read/write heads are mounted on an actuator arm that moves them across the platters. When the heads are moved to a new position, you may hear a clicking sound as the actuator arm swings into place and the head settles on the track.

The technical term for this is “head seek” – the head seeks out the correct track on the platter. The sound occurs when the head snaps into the destination track. Some seek noises are louder than others depending on the drive’s construction.

In addition to head seek clicks, an HDD makes other click-type noises during regular operation:

  • Startup clicks – When first powering on, the drive must calibrate and the heads will snap into park position, making a loud click.
  • Recalibration clicks – Drives occasionally recalibrate, which makes the heads seek and click.
  • Idle clicking – Some drives make a repetitive idle clicking sound when not active.

HDD clicks are perfectly normal and indicate standard mechanical function. However, if clicks become more frequent or irregular, that can signify a problem.

Troubleshooting HDD Clicking Noises

Frequent loud clicking or rattling noises from a hard drive are a worrying sign. Here are some tips for dealing with a loudly clicking HDD:

  • Use HD monitoring tools to check the drive’s health
  • Back up important data in case the drive is failing
  • Try updating HDD drivers and disabling unnecessary processes
  • Reposition or cushion the drive to dampen vibration
  • As a last resort, replace the drive if it has mechanical issues

The Optical Disc Drive

CD, DVD and Blu-ray disc drives are also prone to making clicking and whirring noises. These optical drives have a motorized spindle that spins discs for reading data.

Clicking noises most often come from the drive loading and ejecting discs. When inserting a disc, you will hear clicks as the drive grabs the disc and secures it on the spindle. Louder clicks occur when the drive’s tray retracts or extends during ejects.

The motor that spins the discs can also make light clicking sounds, especially in older drives. Other clicks can come from seek operations as the laser assembly moves back and forth across the disc.

If your optical drive is making worrying noises like grinding or rattling, it likely indicates a mechanical issue. But soft clicks and whirs during disc loads, reads and ejects are normal.

Troubleshooting Noisy Optical Drives

Here are some tips if your optical drive is producing disruptive clicking or whirring noises:

  • Update drivers and firmware for the optical drive
  • Try cleaning the drive lens with a cleaning disc
  • Make sure discs are properly seated before closes
  • Check for obstructions preventing disc loads or ejects
  • Ensure the drive is secured properly in the computer
  • Replace the drive if mechanical problems persist

The Keyboard

The keyboard can also be an occasional source of clicking sounds on a computer. This typically happens when pressing keys near the edges or corners of the keyboard.

Keyboard keys are mounted on a plastic frame underneath the keycaps. When you press a key, a plastic stem moves down and activates the switch on a keyboard’s circuit board.

On some keyboard designs, the frame and keys can develop a bit of wiggle or looseness over time. This can cause the key to snap against the edge of the frame when struck, creating a click sound.

The issue is most common on budget keyboard models with looser manufacturing tolerances. But any keyboard can develop this issue after prolonged use. The click occurs on the off-center key press as the key wobbles and clicks against the side of the frame.

Fixing Noisy Keyboard Clicks

Here are a few potential fixes if your keyboard is producing clicking noises when typing:

  • Clean around and underneath problem keys
  • Update keyboard drivers and settings
  • Adjust your typing pressure and style
  • Replace worn keyboard feet to change the typing angle
  • Consider buying a new keyboard without a loose frame

The Cooling Fan

Inside the computer, cooling fans can sometimes make a repetitive clicking or rattling sound. Fans have rotating blades powered by a motor hub.

Over time, dust buildup on the fan blades can throw off the balance and cause the fan to wobble as it spins. This creates a clicking or grinding sound from the fan rotor hitting the surrounding housing.

Issues with fan bearings can also lead to unbalanced rotation and clicking noises during operation. Defective motor bearings cause friction that sounds like light grinding or intermittent clicks.

Finally, if cables or wires are obstructing the fan blades, they may click against the blades with each rotation. Any object obstructing the fan can transmit a clicking sound.

Troubleshooting Noisy Computer Fans

To stop clicking or rattling fan noises, try these troubleshooting tips:

  • Clean fan blades and vents with compressed air
  • Check bearings and lubricate if needed
  • Make sure no wires or cables contact the fan blades
  • Tighten fan mounts if loose
  • Adjust fan settings in system BIOS or software
  • Replace the fan if cleaning and lubrication don’t work

Other Causes of Clicking Sounds

Some other less common sources of clicking noises inside a computer include:

  • Loose internal components rattling from computer vibration
  • Obstructions interfering with spinning fans or drives
  • Damaged SATA or power cables vibrating inside the case
  • Electrical short circuit arcing inside the power supply
  • Foreign object stuck in the case rattling around
  • Component connectors vibrating against the motherboard

So in summary, the most likely culprits for clicking or clacking noises from a computer are:

  • The mouse click button
  • Hard disk drive head seeks
  • Optical disc drive loading discs
  • Creaking keyboard keys
  • Obstructed or damaged cooling fans

But other internal components may also occasionally contribute to clicking and rattling sounds as well.


Clicking is one of the most common sound effects that you’ll hear coming from a computer. In most cases, clicking sounds are normal operational noise from mechanical components like the mouse, keyboard, fans, and internal storage drives.

Loud, irregular, or excessive clicking noises can signify an issue needing repair. But soft clicking during everyday operation is generally nothing to worry about for most devices.

With proper care and maintenance, most clicking sounds can be minimized or eliminated. But some amount of computer clicking is inevitable due to all the mechanical parts and devices.

So next time you hear clicking from your computer, consider the likely source and whether any troubleshooting steps are needed. With knowledge of what’s making the noise, the clicking is less mysterious!