How to Avoid Losing Sight of Your OS X Cursors

| How-To

Part 2 - Resizing the Pointer

Now that our little refresher on the familiar pointer has concluded, let's get down to the main point... I mean – topic: how to resize the pointer.

The size of these system pointers can be easily altered in System Preferences – in the highly useful Accessibility preferences pane in OS X Mavericks. This feature is particularly helpful to Mac users whose eyesight may not be the best. It has other practical uses as well: finding the cursor in a sea of monitors connected to your Mac, enlarging various tools such as those found in Photoshop's tool palette, and for emphasizing operations when demonstrating software to a live audience or to viewers of a screencast. 

I know what you're thinking: "Sure, but as soon as I make the cursor even a bit larger, it really looks awful!"

That used to be the case before OS X 10.7 Lion, when any magnified cursor adopted the unwanted "jaggies." While certainly still useable and, useful to a degree, it just felt like we were back in the 8-bit graphics world of the early eighties.

Two cursors with jaggies

The Dreaded "Jaggies"

Now, the entire set of system pointers is smoothed out nicely when magnified. 

Examples of magnified and smoothed pointers

Examples of magnified and smoothed pointers

Jaggies are completely eliminated on all magnified system pointers. They look much, much better - tack sharp, and a pleasure to work with. 

There doesn't yet appear to be support for third-party application-specific pointers, such as the aforementioned Photoshop tool pointers. These will magnify, but with the less than ideal pixelated look. However, any system pointers utilized within a third-party application will sport the newer, sleeker look.

The Accessibility panel in Mavericks

The Accessibility preference panel in OS X Mavericks

Let me show you how you can set your Mac’s cursor size. Start by going to System Preferences > Accessibility. Click Display in the panel on the left side of the Accessibility pane, and then drag the Cursor Size slider to the right to make it larger. In all versions, as you make the cursor adjustment, you will see the change in real-time. Remember, this will affect all system cursors, not just the arrow pointer.

Don’t you agree that things look so much better now with your distended yet velvety smooth cursors?

For those readers who may have additional issues locating the cursor on screen, there are several utilities available from the App Store that assist in locating a capricious cursor. 

An app that I have used for several years is PinPoint by Lagente Software ($4.99 on the Mac App Store). I use this little gem when projecting my Mac's screen to an audience or class. With PinPoint enabled, the pointer becomes highlighted and animated in such a way that it is it is easily viewable by all. With keyboard shortcuts I can easily toggle the feature because there are those times during an on-screen demo where highlighting or animating a pointer becomes more of a distraction than a benefit.

I hope you have found these pointers useful! The point to all this, of course, is that your overall user experience will be even more rewarding when you adjust your cursors and pointers to your liking.

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Comments

Melissa Davis

Walt as in Disney? I’m curious about the name now.
I use this feature with my seniors who have macular degeneration all the time. They find it so helpful. It’s also a good refresher on the proper vocabulary terms. Thanks!

dgerzeeboy

“Walt as in Disney? I’m curious about the name now.”

That would be “wait” cursor. Zoom your screen and you’ll see the dot over the “i”.

pattii

The new bug is frustrating where the cursor just plain disappears completely in some Adobe Apps. If you hit the tab key sometimes it comes back, if you quit and relaunch the app it always comes back. But in either instance it disappears again after a period of time. Very frustrating and frequently occurs in Photoshop.

iJack

I’m looking for an app or some way I can also make the cursor red, or some other color. Suggestions?

iJack

I want an app to change the arrow color red or something.
Any ideas?

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