How does a USB Receiver Work?

A USB receiver, commonly referred to as a dongle when used with wireless devices like mice and keyboards, serves as a bridge that facilitates communication between your computer and the wireless device.

Logitech Unifying Receiver, 2.4 GHz Wireless Technology, USB Plug Compatible with all Logitech Unifying Devices like Wireless Mouse and Keyboard, PC / Mac / Laptop - Black

⚙️ Here’s how a USB receiver works ➡️

Communication Technology

Most wireless USB receivers for devices like mice and keyboards operate using radio frequency (RF) communication, typically in the 2.4 GHz ISM band. This is the same frequency range used by many other wireless devices, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but each device type uses specific communication protocols to avoid interference.

Pairing Process

When you first set up a wireless device with a USB receiver, you usually go through a pairing process. This process ensures that the receiver and the device communicate securely and do not receive signals from other nearby devices. The receiver and the device are programmed to recognize each other’s unique identification codes.

Logitech Receiver Connects up to 6 devices

Data Transmission

  1. Signal Sending: When you move your wireless mouse or type on a wireless keyboard, the device sends an encoded signal using radio waves. This signal contains information about the action performed (e.g., mouse movement coordinates, keyboard strokes).
  2. Signal Reception: The USB receiver, plugged into your computer’s USB port, continuously listens for signals from your wireless device. When it receives a signal, the receiver decodes it to interpret the action (like moving the cursor or typing a letter).
  3. Data Processing: After decoding the signal, the receiver sends this data to the computer via the USB interface. The computer’s operating system processes this data as if it were coming from a wired mouse or keyboard, resulting in the cursor moving or text appearing on the screen.

Power and Range

  • Power: USB receivers are powered directly by the computer’s USB port, so they do not require an external power source.
  • Range: Typically, wireless devices using USB receivers have a range of about 10 meters (33 feet). This range can be influenced by environmental factors such as physical obstructions and electromagnetic interference from other devices.


  • Convenience: USB receivers are small and portable, making them convenient for users with laptops or those who travel.
  • Plug-and-Play: Most receivers are designed to work out of the box without needing additional drivers or software installations on modern operating systems.


  • Interference: In environments crowded with electronic devices, USB receivers can experience interference that affects performance.
  • Physical Vulnerability: Due to their small size, USB receivers are easy to lose and can be physically vulnerable to damage when left plugged into a laptop during transport.

In essence, a USB receiver allows your computer to wirelessly communicate with devices like mice and keyboards, converting radio frequency signals into USB data that the computer can understand and process, thus enabling seamless operation of the wireless device.