This tutorial applies to the Microsoft Windows XP operating system. If you have Windows 98 or ME please follow this older tutorial.
It can be rather tricky to keep track of the tiny white arrow, especially if you have a visual impairment. People often ask me if they can get the pointer or cursor any bigger and of course Windows supports this. Windows comes bundled with some bigger cursors and you can also download more pointers from the Internet.
In addition to replacing the pointer itself you can also improve visibility by enabling pointer trails and, for when you are struggling to find the cursor, you can set up an easy way to find it again.
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
Within the Control Panel, locate the 'Mouse' icon and double-click it to open the Mouse options.
If you struggle with double-clicking then you can click on it once to highlight it, and then press the enter key to open it.
M (until Mouse is highlighted), ENTER
Click on the Pointers tab at the top of the dialog window.
This will show you your current 'scheme'. You may have noticed, in general Windows use, that as you move your mouse around the screen, the pointer changes from a little arrow to all sorts of different arrows, hourglasses and wotnot. Put all these together and you have a 'mouse scheme'. Windows comes with several schemes.
I made a large (32x32) bright green cursor that's easy to see and follow around the screen. It has a white border around the outside so even on green objects it remains very clear.
You can download my green cursor from this site. It also comes bundled with a red and a yellow version.
Download my cursors FREE
If you want to use your own custom cursors such as these, you will need to:
Repeat the above for the other cursor states in the list. Don't forget that you can save your scheme by pressing the Save As button.
Mouse trails can also increase the visibility of the mouse pointer.
Click on the Motion tab and select the 'Show Pointer Trails' box.
You can adjust the length of the trails by dragging the slider from short to long. If you find sliders difficult to use then simply single-click the slider to 'highlight' it and then use your keyboard's arrow keys to move it left or right.
If the pointer is still difficult to see then you may need to consider some specialist software such as RJ Cooper's Biggy or Zoomtext . The latter is costly because it includes magnification across the whole of windows and is designed for people with a more severe visual impairment.
The Better Living Through Technology blog that accompanies this website is well worth subscribing to if you'd like to be kept up to date with advancing assistive technologies.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.