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Adjusting the Text Cursor's Blink Rate and Width

The text cursor, or insertion point, as seen in the Google search boxMany people with limited vision find the text cursor difficult to find on the screen, and to track while it's moving. The text cursor or 'insertion point' is the vertical line that indicates where a letter will appear when you start typing. It can be seen in documents and emails, as well on forms on the web, for example in the Google search box.

Microsoft Windows has for a long time allowed users to change the width and the blink rate. A greater width allows users to locate the pointer and track its movement. Slowing down the blink rate can help people who find it distracting or uncomfortable to look at.

Select Control Panel from the Start Menu

Open up the Windows Control Panel by going to Start and selecting Control Panel from the menu.

If there is no Control Panel in your Start Menu then your school's technician or network administrator has stopped you from being able to access it!

Windows Key, Arrow Keys (to select Control Panel), Enter

Control Panel

Double-click on the 'Accessiblity Options' icon to launch the applet.

A (to select Accessibility Options), Enter

Accessibility Options: Display

Up pops the Accessibility Options window. Click on the Display tab at the top of the screen.

CTRL + TAB until Display is highlighted

You can adjust the blink rate and width under the Cursor Options section. I have a separate tutorial that covers the High Contrast section.

The Blink rate slider allows you to alter the rate all the way from no longer (i.e. a solid bar) up to a fast flitter. The preview text cursor will give you an indication of how this will appear.

A real screenshot of the cursor set to too large a width

The text cursor width is, in theory, as very good way of making the text cursor more visually accessible and easier to find for everyone. It works well if you make a little thicker but if you make it very thick then the black box covers over characters on the right of the text you are reading. This can be particularly awkward when editing text.

Also I should note that these settings aren't adhered to in all programs, some of which will ignore your options completely. However they are supported across most Microsoft programs including Word, Outlook and Internet Explorer.

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