Resolving the Mystery of a Disappearing Mouse Cursor in Mac OS X

Jul 19, 2013 - 79 Comments

Mac OS X Mouse cursor In an unusual and fairly rare situation, the Mac cursor can randomly disappear from OS X. More accurately, the cursor itself becomes invisible, because you can still click around on the screen but without being able to see what the mouse or trackpad is focused on.

This seems to happen out of the blue, and although it is difficult to reproduce reliably, it does seem to happen more often when a Mac is running low on available memory and is using multiple monitors. Thus, you may be more likely to lose the cursor when using apps like Photoshop, or Chrome and Safari with tons of browser tabs open, especially with an external display connected. After running into this bug repeatedly I discovered a few ways to resolve the problem and make the cursor visible again.

If your mouse cursor has mysteriously disappeared in OS X, try the following tricks in descending order to bring it back:

  1. Hit Command+Tab to switch back to the Finder or to another app, then switch back to the active app
  2. Summon the Force Quit menu by hitting Command+Option+Escape, there is often no need to actually force quit anything as just summoning the menu is often enough to make the cursor return
  3. Quit and relaunch the app, or quit all apps if the cursor is gone everywhere
  4. Adjust the size of the cursor, found in System Preferences > Accessibility > Display to make it reappear
  5. Reboot

The force quit window in OS X

Typically using the Command+Tab app switcher or Force Quit trick are enough to bring the cursor back for most apps, but if it’s consistently missing in a single app you may need to relaunch that app itself. Very rarely the cursor will be missing everywhere, which requires either every single application be quit or the computer to reboot.

This is obviously a bug, which means it’s probably an easy fix for Apple. In fact, it may already be resolved in OS X Mavericks as I have yet to run into it using the developer preview builds of 10.9.

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


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  1. Les Bannister says:

    Hi Paul I have downloaded Mavericks and since doing so my mouse regular disappears ,often it does not appear when starting.I have to keep on rebooting computer until its visible on boot up.Other times it just disappears if allowed to sleep.

    • Sami Jarvinen says:

      Hi Paul,

      I have exactly the same problem on my Macbook Air, both on Safari 6 and 7 – with both OSX Mavericks and my previous operating system! It’s a rather frequently recurring problem, several times a day at least, and though there are fairly easy workarounds, I find it funny that Apple hasn’t managed to fix it altogether yet.

      The cursor disappears regardless of the number of applications open (i.e. there shouldn’t be a low memory problem) and reappears when I CMD+TAB onto finder or any other application than Safari. Sometimes it finally reappears in Safari after a few switches back and forth.

      • Frank says:


        I just wanted to update to the comments here because it seems there hasn’t been an update in a while. I’ve been running 10.10.1 and it still happens with multiple monitors!

        It’s not a resource issue because I have greater than 8gb ram left and my CPU is less than 10%.

        • Ruthie says:

          10.10.2 It still is happening. I just got it on a single monitor with more than 9 gigs of unused memory. It goes away easily enough but is very annoying.

          • Ted says:

            and we are on to 10.10.3 and it is still happening.

            Plenty of RAM left over, happens on both my 2 monitor set up and work and just using the display on my MacBook Pro (retina).

      • Tom Peek says:

        Hi there, had the problem myself (and still have) However I discovered that when I have configured interactive corners on my screen and move into a interactive corner when my mouse disappears, it reappears most of the time by doing so, so no need to restart or other things to click and reset or restart, hope this will be useful to many of you………..

    • Martha says:

      I have found that if you can invisibly get the cursor up to the very top of the page near the main bar it will reappear. I am using Firefox and Yosemite 10.10.2

  2. Les Bannister says:

    I take it all back had my pen stood on tablet DOH!

  3. Bill says:

    I just experienced the problem and I’m using Maverick. I doubled-clicked a book in iBooks, and when it launched in Preview (it’s a PDF), the mouse disappeared. Quitting Preview brought it back. I couldn’t duplicate the problem, though.

  4. Russell says:

    No, it’s not fixed. I never experienced the problem until I installed Mavericks. Now it happens routinely. Most often in Lightroom 5, with which I use dual monitors. But it has also occurred in Safari with multiple windows open.

    I have not found a solution. So far I have navigated blind (usually saving work) and shortly the pointer returns. No consistent reason observed yet as to what brings it back.

  5. Brent says:

    This has not been solved in Mavericks. It happens just as often as before the Mavericks upgrade.

    Why doesn’t Apple fix this?

    In the mean-time, an app called Moom helps significantly. Although its main purpose is to move the pointer using the keyboard, it also has the ability to map a keyboard shortcut to show the pointer. In so-doing, it also makes the invisible Pointer visible again!

    I’ve mapped it to Ctrl-Enter. Whenever I find myself jerking the mouse around trying to get it to appear, a simple Ctrl-Enter displays it.

    • Chas says:

      Just bought Moom but can’t see how to dedicate a shortcut to show the mouse pointer as you suggest. Sorry for being thick! How do you do that, please?

  6. Jim says:

    Thanks for the tip. My mouse disappears quite frequently even in Mavericks and your tips work to get it visible again. Also with Mavericks I am unable to scroll in mail with the magic mouse. Hope Apple fixes this soon. It’s frustrating.

  7. Jarik says:

    I have found that flipping to a hot corner (a feature of ‘mission control’ previously ‘exposé’ ) tends to restore visibility to your cursor when it disappears. Would be nice if it where fixed. In terms of cause, It seems to happen the most to me in relation to video playing in web browsers. (mousing across the video when focused in another application vanishes the mouse?)

    • Reedly says:

      This is exactly what I’ve noticed too. Just a few moments ago the cursor disappeared, I tried the top left hot corner which didn’t work, then the bottom left, and the cursor came back.

      It still seems hit or miss as to which one will work.

  8. Jane Watson says:

    I never had this problem before I bought a new computer with Mavericks installed. It’s a bug in the new system as far as I am concerned. Been using a Mac for 25 years plus, never encountered it before. Thanks Apple! You know about this – how about fixing it!!! This is not what I expect from Apple. Steve must be turning in his grave….

  9. Nancy says:

    We recently replaced a worn out wireless Magic Mouse with a wired one and started having this problem. We’re using Mountain Lion. Called the Apple repair shop who sold us the new mouse and he suggested we replace our colorful mousepad with a solid color one. Problem gone.

  10. Bruce says:

    My Macbook Pro is running 10.8.5 and the disappearing pointer problem has been increasing in frequency. A couple of months ago it happened once every couple of weeks – now it is daily or several times a day. Mostly happens to me when using Firefox.


  11. Amin Ghadesi says:

    how change color Mouse Cursor?

  12. Grant says:

    This problem is at its worst in PDFs and WORD in text that is in italics – it appears and disappears as you enter/leave such text. This has been going on for over a year, well before Mavericks.

    Incredibly annoying when you need to select a phrase of a few sentences.

  13. raeven says:

    Happens to me constantly- more frequently when I am streaming something or there is a form of Flash running- it seems to be an error that occurs while running 3rd party apps or plugins. The Mac OS has just fallen apart due to whatever background processes run now. Don’t be so naive as to think you can expose them all, either. Please don’t insult my intelligence with any ‘YU so paranoid’ responses. I have things complete fail to respond and then take me back to login- a lovely way to gain access and implement changes. I wish they would at least provide a sense of false confidence!

  14. Chris says:

    TIP #1,162 – Works every time for me.

    When the mouse cursor goes invisible, scroll blindly to/past your dock (at the bottom of the screen), then then back up again. It will appear.

    This works every time for me. As soon as you begin to scroll up again, it should appear. I was hoping things would change in Mavericks, but I believe it goes invisible more. I just came to the forum to see if anyone had the full proof solution, but what I’ve been doing seems to be the easier of all I just read.

    Good luck.

  15. Suze says:

    I am having the same problems. This is really frustrating! my old 2009 MBP was not troubles at all, now buying a new macbook air with maverick the mouse is disappearing all time time!
    come on apple – fix it!!

  16. Josie says:

    Thank you that worked (the first one)… love the internet with all the friendly helpful people…. you all rock

  17. Tobia says:

    Thanks Jarik,
    even with no hot corners configured, opening Mission Control (even if you close it right away) seems to restore the missing cursor.

  18. Ed says:

    Still a problem with Mavericks 10.9.4

    It’s pathetic that Apple continues to leave this bug unfixed through many OS releases.

  19. Daniel Felipe says:

    When this happen to me, I just press F9 or F10and then the mouse reappears.

  20. Johnny says:

    My cursor disappears each time I boot up my MacBook Pro running Mavericks. By accident I discovered that if I do a three-finger swipe to the right on my Trackpad (so that I get the Widgets screen), wait 3-4 seconds, then do a three-finger swipe to the left to get back to the Finder, the cursor suddenly reappears!

  21. Michael says:

    Guys this is a simple issue that needs to be adjusted by the programmers.

    A missing cursor is mainly due to a lack of feedback code to maintain critical systems… its location or importance in the code needs to be elevated to the same level of memory allocation as things like the playback buttons.

    For example if there are 10 levels of memory allocation within a computer. A one is the lowest needed items… something rarely used & stored in the HDD & a 10 would be things used every day all the time, mission critical systems like the display or the playback buttons.

    Thats my $0.02 but computers are not as complicated as people want you to believe.

  22. gerard says:

    How does one launch system preferences without a cursor?

  23. janet says:

    Awesome. Did #1 and #2 (without having to actually force quit anything) and it worked.

  24. Cristofer Reyes says:

    Hey guys,

    I have the same problem in Mavericks, and is really annoying when I’m programming in XCode .The faster solution so far for me is just to move the mouse to the top left corner and shake it if is neccesary, then the pointer is back. If not the CMD+TAB is a good solution, in case you want to keep in the same application after the CMD+TAB, just keep pressed both bottons and with the mouse pointer select your actual app again.

    See ya!

  25. James Demers says:

    In my case, it’s Firefox where the cursor vanishes consistently. I can get it back by sloughing off to the edge of the monitor, where (usually) I’ve got a sliver of the desktop showing. Click there, and I’m back in business.

  26. Sandi says:

    Rare my butt.

  27. Mike the Pom says:

    The only thing that worked for me was a restart. Pain in the arse.

  28. Andrew says:

    Not rare – existed in Mavericks since upgrading and exists in Yosemite. I can hit command tab and back to get the cursor back. But very annoying. Similar problem is losing window focus while in the middle of typing. I keep thinking i hit a key combo, but I think it may be a related bug.

  29. Don says:

    Every solution listed above has a common denominator that most people seem to be overlooking. The tricks above, the moving to hot corners and moving to the dock all require that the OS interact with the cursor. Notice that clicking in the application (and sometimes Finder) does not bring back the visibility of the cursor. But clicking on an OS menu will.
    My “trick” (that is faster than any other mentioned), is to jam my cursor all the way up to the top of the screen so that it should be located on the menu bar, and click. Invoking a menu click always bring my cursor back.
    And I agree with Sandi – rare my butt! I am running two 50 inch 4k monitors on my MacPro and that cursor is hard enough to find even when it is working! This happens way too often. Hoping Yosemite will fix it finally.

  30. Darla says:

    I’ve been using Macs for 20 years and I’ve had this disappearing cursor happen ever since I’ve been using photoshop regardless of OS. I’m in Mavericks now but it was happening in Leopard and Snow Leopard and even before that. If you click off the app giving you issues it should reappear, I usually click on Safari and then back to PS and the cursor is there. In my case it’s only Photoshop that causes this and usually only when I initially open the app. After the first time I don’t have an issue for the rest of the time I use it. I have this issue every time I open it. I don’t think Apple will be fixing this any time soon since it’s been going on for years.

  31. Aakash says:

    I recently switched to Mac(Thank God) and encountered this issue.. i started off directly with Yosemite…so idk much about the previous versions, but yes i face this problem quite frequently.

    I mostly work on Chrome, so till now that where i have experienced this, but i am sure it would be happening for other third-party apps and softwares too.

    Switching the windows(Command+Tab) always brings it back for thats the fastest work-around i believe we have for now.

    Hope Apple fixes this once and for all…

  32. Steve says:

    This is still an issue for me with Yosemite.

    My workaround is to enable temporary zoom. System Preferences -> Accessibility -> Zoom -> More Options button, and check “Enable temporary zoom”. Then simply hitting Ctrl+Option brings back the mouse cursor.

  33. Lorraine says:

    I have Yosemite and have tried every workaround. Nothing works. Had the same problem with Mountain Lion and Mavericks.

    I even repaired the desktop with DiskWarrior and repaired permissions with DiskUtility.

    The two programs I notice the most problems with are YouTube and a jigsaw program I use.

    I use two screens. I find taping on the blank one brings the cursor back.

    I was a diehard Safari user until I met Yosemite. It’s frozen. It must’ve watched the movie two often and caught a cold. I’m now an Opera fan and wondered why I stopped using this marvelous browser.

    A frustrating problem which Apple needs to fix.

  34. CC says:

    If Apple spent half as much time on functionality as on appearance, it would make awesome products. Alas. This happens to me in Firefox all the time, so I have a hot key that will get me to my desktop screen, I click the cursor, and then I return to whatever I was doing. Annoying, for sure, but it’s a much better option than force closing apps and rebooting!

  35. Pete says:

    I just upgraded an from my old 32bit iMac to a new MBP with 16g ram and an i core 7 processor, only to discover that my brand new $3K laptop can’t even provide me with a functional mouse!!!
    Worst still, i now read apple has been aware of the problem for over 12mths and it STILL not fixed.
    I upgraded because i finally tired of all the glitchy crash causing bugs that my iMac had developed.
    Looks like that might have been a $3K mistake. The 2 $800 PC’s i bought for my kids seem to function perfectly.
    Seriously considering taking this MBP back and exchanging it for one of those, now.
    Would never have happened when SJ was alive and in charge. Apple has really lost its way since he left this earth!

    • Hehe says:

      To use a Mouse on your Mac connect it with a USB cable and move it around on a desk to see hte cursor appear on your screen. Clicking the button on the mouse where the little arrow is (that’s called a cursor) will activate that screen item. Your Windows PC will also use a mouse cursor, it’s not just a Mac thing.

  36. Sean says:

    I’m experiencing this again frequently after not having it happen in probably ~9 years. My solution has always been to click directly on the desktop and drag, (as if you were to be selecting a group of icons) then release. Cursor always reappears immediately after that.

  37. DrJenny says:

    It’s not fixed in Yosemite either. Perfect pain.
    Occasionally it sorts itself once I quit from Safari. Mostly I end up shutting down and restarting. It does seem to happen when I’ve multiple apps running (but that’s always, that’s the point of using this Macbook Pro) and when I haven’t done a restart for a while.

  38. Ghrom says:

    Happened to me at least three times in the last few days, on Mac Pro ‘black jar edition’ with 3 monitors connected, cursor disappears on the biggest in terms of resolution, 2 smaller are fine. OS X 10.10.1 Yosemite

  39. Victor Bermejo says:

    I have had this issue for a while now and never really looked into it because i thought it was just my computer. All the answers to fix it seem very complicated, but i found out if i quickly drag it down to the dock and then quickly drag it back up, it reappears.

  40. Denise says:

    This can happen many times in a day for me. I have many applications open and multiple monitors.

    All I have to do is click somewhere else and then the cursor returns. For example, the disappears most often inside a Java application. If I move the cursor outside of the Java application it re-appears. Then I click anywhere and move back into the Java application and it’s fine.

    Moving to another application and then back isn’t enough. I have to move out of the application and then click.

  41. Brenda says:

    I’m completely baffled by this. I have three MacBooks that have been through various versions of Mac OS X (including the latest 10.9.5) and I have never had this issue on any of them.

    My husband and brother-in-law experience it frequently on their MacBooks (same model and same OS).

    Not to defend Apple, but it’s possible the root cause of the issue isn’t as easy to track down as some folks suggest.

    I don’t use Firefox (or several of the other apps people mentioned). I do use Safari and Chrome.

  42. John K says:

    Same problem here since moving to Yosemite from Mavericks. Usually seems to happen in Firefox but maybe that’s because I use that app the most. I have Mouse Locator installed and it will pop up showing me about where the cursor is, but with no actual cursor in the middle. I’ve just been clicking about blindly until it reappears. The tips here at least give me a few more scientific tricks to get it back. Very annoying.

  43. Simon Berube says:

    How is it that this bug hasn’t been fixed yet? This isn’t the only cursor issue, either. It bothers me that the resize cursor rarely appears when the mouse is at a window edge. Also, the hand cursor rarely appears to identify links in a browser.

  44. Nate says:

    Same problem here since moving to Yosemite from Mavericks last week. Never saw it before, but now it happens so much that I’m looking into add-ons/extensions (e.g. mouse locator) to help.

    The trick I found to recover is to go to the dashboard. Either do – or just bang around with the invisible mouse until the dashboard shows up.

    • Nate says:

      yes, I am answering myself.

      1st – My statement should have said Control + Left Arrow, instead of just “–“.

      Also, this issue seems more frequent when I’m leaning back with the macbook’s front edge bearing to weight of the macbook at/near my beltline. The mousepad also tends to be less responsive this way.
      This makes me wonder:
      – if each unit (or batch of units) has a different susceptibility to what should be inconsequential frame distortion at the trackpad.
      – And/or the low-level driver doesn’t distinguish such frame distortion at its edges, as it should.

  45. Eric says:

    Sorry, but none of these tricks or shortcuts from the last two years posted here, nor from other blogs I’ve seen since 2011 is a fix or a valid explanation of why this is happening. I too have a completely updated Mac, running Yosemite, 8G ram, and the mouse still disappears on one of my two dual monitors occasionally. So, anyone who thinks any of the new updates have fixed this is unfortunately wrong. Just wait long enough, and it will happen again. The tricks like “Command+Tab” and bringing up “Force Quit” help, but are nonetheless still only “work-around” solutions. Why Apple takes soooooooo long to fix what seems to be a simple bug is baffling.

    • ytaum says:

      There is no explanation for why the cursor disappears other than a bug, and Apple software quality has declined dramatically particularly on the Mac so this is not surprising to see something so small go unfixed for years. OS X Yosemite is basically still in beta.

  46. skagedal says:

    “This is obviously a bug, which means it’s probably an easy fix for Apple.”

    This is such a non sequitur.

  47. Cosmo says:

    This is such a joke- this thread started over 16 MONTHS ago, yet the mouse cursor bug is STILL happening. I love all the tricks and shortcuts listed here- but this is insane! Why do I need a shortcut to find my mouse cursor?!

  48. Melita says:


  49. Chris J says:

    I’ve noticed it happens for me when I’m using an app that is SUPPOSED to make the cursor disappear, such as a fullscreen video player. Sometimes I’ll leave put my Mac to sleep when in fullscreen playback mode (no menu or cursor visible) and when I wake it up the next morning everythig is the same including no cursor, except that the cursor doesn’t come back when I move the mouse.

    I tried the cursor size trick and it still didn’t bring the cursor back. I quit VLC (video player) and then tried the cursor size trick and it worked. So for me at least the problem seems tied to VLC, or at least apps that make the cursor disappear.

    It is pretty sad how Apple’s OS quality has dropped, both Mac and iOS. But it’s still leaps and bounds better than the alternatives.

  50. Khris says:

    April 9th 2015 @ 7:37AM.. I’m midway thru a photoshop project and BOOM! Cursor disappeared! So, I whipped out the iPhone 6+ and googled the problem and found this article. The “Command+Tab” function worked like a charm. I’m using a MacBook Pro OS X Yosemite (Mid 2014).

  51. Brian says:

    Cursor disappears on my new 27″ iMac 3.2 24GB memory!! With nothing showing any sluggishness. It also does this on my 21 inch mac. On both the command+tab trick has always worked. And yes I tend to run a gazillion tabs…my bad

  52. David says:

    I just had a couple of times where this was a problem. Have had it in the past, always with an open FireFox session. The first time I was able to get the cursor to reappear by closing a couple of applications (cmd-Tab; cmd-Q). The second time I got the cursor to reappear with left-click. That will now be my first option, if it recurs.

  53. Mike says:

    I have the problem regularly on Yosemite with an iMac 5k.
    In fact it seems to happen when the cursor has to change (wait ball or else) and back to normal, but instead of changing, it disappears.
    As I use two monitors, a simple clic in the second monitor, but on another application than the current one, brings it back.
    Really annoying.

  54. Goldie says:

    One fool-proof way I’ve been able to solve this issue is simply moving the cursor to reveal your dock. Hope it helps.

  55. Brian says:

    This happens to me constantly. If I blindly navigate up to the menu and click it reappears.

  56. Melita says:


  57. Toby says:

    Happens to iMac 27″ 2012 from time to time. I don’t run Chrome, I don’t have more than one monitor, and I’m not using any memory-hungry programs. I thought it was just me but looks like it’s a widespread issue.

  58. Leon Zandman says:

    The mouse disappearing still regularly happens on OSX. I’m running the latest and the greatest and it still happens :-(

    That said, I’ve found it often happens when I have Safari running, particularly when somewhere on a page in some tab there’s a (Flash) video. When playing video full screen it’s normal (and wanted) behavior for the mouse cursor to disappear. Apparently this behavior also sometimes gets triggered when it shouldn’t.

  59. Sam says:

    I solve it always by doing a right click(Click two fingers at the same time) and it comes back.

  60. Mike says:

    I’ve been troubled with this for the first time since about a week ago. Never had a problem with Mavericks but now I’m on Yosemite 10.10.5 which is the latest I believe. Wasn’t there an update very recently?
    To ‘solve’ it, I just wait patiently for a few minutes and it comes back out of hiding.

  61. chris says:

    I’ve been having the same issue with the mouse lately and I finally decided to look it up. Glad I’m not the only one, but I can’t believe apple can’t find the fix for this. Don’t worry apple when I get my degree I’ll get a job there find a fix.

  62. Carrie says:

    Not one of these ideas worked for me. Decided to close my laptop and walk away. Came back and mouse returned miraculously! Whew!

  63. Zac says:

    Happens to me all the time, I just scroll down to the dock and it reappears. for a while.

  64. Graham says:

    I am on an older system, 10.8.3 2.6ghz Core i7 (2012/13 ? Macbook Pro) 8gig ram, and have always had this problem. Always while using Firefox (35.0.1)

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