12 days of tech tips: How to customize your Windows cursor settings

Windows 10 is still technically "new," but there's also a lot of older legacy support and options buried in the OS. One feature that I'm always surprised people never use is the ability to tweak the mouse cursor. People just blindly accept the default size and look and go on with lives. Savages!

Today, we'll look at one of the first things I do whenever I get a new PC.

Resize and invert

There are two main features you manipulate when it comes to the default mouse cursor in Windows 10, and they're both worth looking at:

  • Size.
  • Color.

To navigate to these settings, just type mouse in your Windows search bar. That should bring up Change your mouse settings.

Next, choose Additional mouse options and navigate to the Pointers tab. Under Scheme is where you can find all the built-in choices for Windows cursors.

Size is obvious. For those using a 4K UHD display, changing the cursor size to something more significant. This feature is essential, too, if you are getting a new PC, because often when you sync your settings by logging into your Microsoft Account you also sync the cursor size. That means the default sized one may get smaller.

There are three sizes to choose for cursors:

  • System.
  • Large.
  • Extra large.

Just pick the one that you prefer. On high-resolution displays, I often choose large, but depending on the size and resolution (or if you need glasses) you may also want to try extra large.

The next one – color – is even more interesting.

By default, the OS uses a white cursor ("standard"). But there are two other options including black and inverted. Inverted is the real fun one and what I use. Here's why. When using a white cursor, it can become difficult to see on a web page with a white background. The same holds true if for black.

Inverted, however, is the best of both worlds. When on a white background, the cursor is now black. When on a black background it jumps to white making the cursor always highly visible. It's very useful.

The mouse cursor with inverted color scheme dynamically adjusts to the background image for higher visibility.

The mouse cursor with inverted color scheme dynamically adjusts to the background image for higher visibility.

To be honest, I'm not sure why inverted is not the default. I always immediately switch to Windows Inverted (extra large)(system scheme) for my 4K desktops.

Don't forget your pointer options

Related to the above is the Pointer Options tab, where you can manipulate other vital settings. Here is what you should consider enabling if it is not on by default:

  • Enhance pointer precision — I'm shocked some manufacturers still don't make this the default, but it is a must-have. The feature makes the cursor more accurate by slowing down around buttons and clickable elements. Make sure this is on.
  • Snap to — "Snap to" saves you effort by automatically moving the pointer to "the default button in a dialog box."

For visibility, I'm not a massive fan of "pointer trails," but you may like the feature. "Hide pointer while typing" is also very useful. "Show location of pointer when I press the CTRL key" may seem dumb, but when working with multiple monitors having it is a very useful!

Of course, what you prefer is up to you. Many people are not even aware there are options for something as simple as a mouse cursor. You use the cursor more than anything on a PC, so it is worth experimenting to see if you can find something more enjoyable!

So dive in and see what works for you. And a very happy holiday season to you and yours.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • I really wish the Snap To feature, which I've used forever since it was added to IntelliPoint and then into Windows itself, would work in UWP applications, as it doesn't appear to work in the ones I ever use (ie. Mail/Edge).
  • I've tried using Snap To a few times, but I always end up turning it off. I'm already moving in the direction of the default button or whatever it is I want to click on and this feature moves me. So for me, it does more harm than good.
  • Takes me back to the days when everyone had installed malware that came with custom icons and cursors and system sounds. So happy those days are behind us.
  • I didn't know about the inverted option. Thank you!
  • I've known about trails and inversion since at least '95. Trails needs an update badly and apparently nobody has an alternative. The benefit of trails (for me) also represents the reason that I think Inverted isn't the default and your image of the cursor across two colors does a great job of explaining. I'm colorblind and have adapted in some odd ways as a software developer working in high-end video and photography (kind-of the [color]blind leading the blind). Anyhow, your cursor is gone in that photo :) No really, try to get a computer vision system to see it. By breaking up the colors that way, you effectively destroy the edges of the cursor which makes feature-detection (a concept modeled on human vision) break. I find that it's easier to locate while shaking the cursor though because you get more pixels changing (every pixel the cursor moves onto or off of HAS to change per the behavior of "inversion"). When the motion stops though, the cursor effectively becomes camouflaged. :/ My thoughts on that anyway. Would love to hear from an authority on it (then talk to them about mouse trails, a missed opportunity).