How to change your mouse cursor in Windows

The mouse cursor is one of the pillars of modern user interface design. Even if you’ve transitioned to a tablet or touchscreen device like Microsoft’s great Surface Pro line, sometimes you just need that reliable old cursor, especially in an operating system that still skews heavily toward the conventional desktop (i.e., Windows).

But that doesn’t mean you have to stick with the default option. Users looking for different cursor colors and sizes, whether for better visibility or simply based on cosmetic preference, can follow our simple guide on how to change your mouse cursor in Windows. Changing the cursor to a variety of built-in Windows 10 “schemes” — which function as collections of cursors for normal operation, text selection, hyperlinks, etc. — is fairly easy, but users can also customize individual images, or install themed packs.

Changing the default cursor

Step 1: Change mouse settings

Click on the search box located in the taskbar, then type in “mouse.” Select Change Your Mouse Settings from the resulting list of options to open the primary mouse settings menu. Then select Additional Mouse Options.

Step 2: Browse the available cursor schemes

In the Mouse Properties window that appears, select the Pointers tab. The first option there is Scheme, and it’s all that most users will need. Click the Scheme drop-down menu and you’ll see roughly a dozen different cursor schemes. These are collections of static and animated images that completely replace the default “arrow” cursor and its associated tools. Most of them are boring but functional, and they take on the regular Windows look. The variations come in white and black for the best contrast, and in a variety of sizes to suit different screen resolutions and those with poor eyesight.

Step 3: Select and apply a scheme

You can also click on any of the schemes to see a preview of the applicable cursors. You can move back and forth between them to compare the color and size. The Inverted schemes are especially useful for those who have a hard time seeing the standard white cursor.

When you’ve found one that looks good to you, click Apply and then OK to implement the changes. Then return to the Mouse Properties menu for any additional changes in the future. The Enable Pointer Shadow option adds a cosmetic shadow to the cursor — it’s interesting, but not all that useful.

Customizing cursors

You can also browse a full list of extra cursors for more choices if you really want to customize your options.

Step 1: Navigate to the Cursors folder

Navigate to the Mouse Properties window as we did earlier. Then select the Pointers tab. To select a custom cursor for the highlighted individual icon, click Browse. That will open the default Cursors folder, where hundreds of different cursor options are available.

browse menu
Michael Crider/Digital Trends

Step 2: Select your cursors

Click one that matches the function (not the scheme) of the current cursor, then click Open to apply it to the current scheme. You can repeat this step as many times as it takes to get the desired result or click Use Default to return to the standard cursor for the scheme in question. (Just be aware that “default” may not always mean the original cursor for that scheme, and it may be better to just hit Cancel instead if what you want is to return to the original cursor for a given scheme.)

Repeat the process with any other individual cursors you’d like to change, then click Apply and then OK to activate them.

Changing cursor size and color

Windows 10 mouse pointer size and color settings screenshot
screenshot

If you are more interested in changing your cursor for accessibility reasons, you can quickly adjust the size or color without needing to mess around with different schemes or designs.

Step 1: In the Windows search box, search for “ease of access” and select Ease of Access Mouse Settings from the resulting list.

Step 2: In the left-side menu, select Mouse Pointer.

Step 3: Under Change Pointer Size, you can adjust the bar to a size that works best for you. Under Change Pointer Color, you can select from several basic color options to make the cursor more visible: White, Black, Inverted, or Custom. With Custom, you can choose from either a set of seven suggested colors or pick a custom color of your own.

Step 4: You can also adjust the appearance of your text cursor. Select Text Cursor from the left side of the Ease of Access section of the Settings app. Here, you can change the color of your text cursor and even the thickness of it.

Downloading cursor packs

Customizing the Windows interface has recently declined in popularity. However, if you’re tech-savvy or prefer more advanced features, many programs can download supplementary cursor schemes or customized cursors to the menu. These alternative options include Stardock’s CursorFX and websites like the Open Cursor Library, which have specialized features for personalized cursors. To pick your cursor from one of these programs, follow the same steps detailed above. 

If you find a couple (or several, if you’re feeling fun) cursors you wish to install, you simply need to copy and paste the image files into the corresponding Cursors folder. For the Windows 7, 8, or 10 users, look for the Cursors folder in the default Windows installation folder (C: > Windows > Cursors).  The Browse option can transfer to any folder of your choice on your computer. That said, we think it’s best to keep the majority of your customized cursor files in the default Cursors folder or at least in one designated folder. It helps keep your information organized.

Finally, ransomware and other malware attacks are always a potential threat to your computer. Be sure to keep an eye out for these attacks whenever you transfer a cursor file (or any other software, for that matter). To try and prevent these damaging viruses, be sure to check that a website is trustworthy before downloading anything. We recommend only using credible sites or checking files with a virus scanner immediately after downloading them and before opening them on your computer.

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