Adjust the Size of the Mouse Pointer in OS X Mountain Lion

Feb 21, 2013 - 8 Comments

Larger cursor size in Mac OS X

Adjusting the mouse pointer sizes is a simple way to greatly improve accessibility for individuals with visual impairments. But the most frequent uses though, having a less dramatic difference with just a slightly larger cursor can be a nice way to ease locating the pointer on extra large screens or during presentations.

Where to change the size of the pointer in OS X has been relocated since Mountain Lion, but despite reports to the contrary, the feature does still exist on the Mac. Here’s how to adjust the cursor size now:

  • From the  Apple menu, open “System Preferences
  • Choose “Accessibility” then under Seeing choose “Display”
  • Adjust the slider next to “Cursor Size” to make the cursor larger (or smaller)

Cursor Size slider in OS X

You can also quickly summon the Accessibility Options with the Command+Option+F5 keyboard shortcut in OS X, though you will need to click the “Preferences” button to get to the cursor slider.

Changing the size of the mouse pointer in OS X 10.8 and beyond looks much more pleasant than before because you no longer end up with a giant pixelated cursor, instead you get a nice and smooth high-DPI rendered version that is appropriate for using larger cursors even on the ultra high resolution Retina displays. These newer high resolution versions carry across to almost all cursors in OS X, from the normal mouse pointer to the hand cursors that show up when hovering over links.

Large Mac cursor

A few things to note about this: First, changing the cursor size has no impact on click focus, the point of the cursor remains the same. Second, you can’t capture normal screen shots using traditional methods that display the larger cursor, taking a regular screenshot will continue to show the cursor rendered as the default size.

If you’ve done this before with other versions of Mac OS, you’ll notice a few prominent changes from how OS X 10.8+ differs to prior versions, most obvious is “Accessibility” is what the “Universal Access” panel used to be called, and, somewhat confusingly, the adjustment slider is now under the Display menu instead of the Mouse & Trackpad tab. It appears much of the confusion about this option, and the assumption by some that the ability was dropped entirely, comes from the slider moving away from the more obvious Mouse panel.

For some technical background, the high DPI cursor arrived as early as OS X 10.7.3, but it wasn’t until Mountain Lion that the control panels were switched and renamed and the settings were moved.

Thanks to Mitch for the question on our Facebook page and tip idea

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

8 Comments

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  1. tony says:

    Avaible Also in LION on the same way ( Accessibility )

  2. thom gillespie says:

    I am old enough to have used ResEdit to swap out pointers but haven’t a clue how to do it with Mountain Lion. Maybe a little tutorial? Can’t be that difficult.

    Thanks, thom

    • Paul says:

      ResEdit was great! I spent a lot of time tweaking Mac OS and various apps a long time ago using that app too.

      The cursor graphics are stored in CoreServices and are a bit trickier to replace in OS X, but that’s a great question and maybe we’ll write a post about how to do it.

  3. John says:

    Is there a way to also change the color of the cursor?

  4. Michael Spencer says:

    Dude. Your geekatude index is officially sky high. Just saying’.

  5. Robert Rydberg says:

    Why change the location of the pointer control to Display from Mouse & Trackpad has to be a sign of idiots taking over Apple.

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