Sunday, May 27, 2007

What's up with Mac OS X mouse cursor?

Almost everyone who owns a Mac believes it's not only the most advanced operating system, it's also graphically superior. The Apple Human Interface Guidelines indeed lay out a comprehensive set of rules to follow. True indeed, I've seen the same program for windows and Mac, and the Mac version looks far superior.

"We made the buttons on the screen look so good you'll want to lick them."

Despite its aesthetic graphic appeal, there is one weak area which Apple remains to work upon.

Let's face it, all Mac users: It's the OS X mouse pointer.

It's primitive, way too small, and looks like a destitute orphan when compared to other parts of OS X interface. In other words, the default pointer in Mac OS X is ugggggggly.


Windows --- |---Ubuntu--- | ---Mac OS X

Not only the graphic appearance is ugly and not user-friendly, also the display is buggy at times. When typing my documents in NeoOffice, sometimes the cursor just vanishes, only to come back after I scribble on the trackpad frantically. Sometimes the cursor is just there, but it's so beautifully camoflauged in its black color that I'm not able to see it at all!

There are ways to make it look bigger, and I tried one of them. I thought that a bigger pointer will be easier to see. But the result was disappointing, it now looks ugggggglier.



What the heck? Reminds me of a 80's arcade blip-blop game.

In my opinion, the default mouse cursor in Mac OS X needs some work - at least make it look like the default one in Windows. That will save my eyes some diopters (- and some money to my pocket because I won't be forced to buy that $10 software to change my default mouse pointer).

For those who do want to spend money to customize the pointer, check these out:
Also see iCursor

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Everything was better once I bought Mighty Mouse by Unsanity. But with the release of Leopard, it doesn't work anymore. I will have to wait for an update of Mighty Mouse, or just got back to Tiger.

Of all the things to screw up on, Apple would have to make it the one thing that is most important to a GUI -- the mouse pointer.

Personally, Windows lockups are a piece of cake compared to not having a pointer that is not helpful. I can overcome lockups. I can't overcome a despicable mouse pointer.

Frank said...

When I wake up my Mac by punching a key my mouse takes a long time
for the curser to activate. Is this normal? Why doesn't the curser
activate immediately when I wake Mac up?

Anil said...

Frank, how much RAM do you have? And do you have any intensive background programs running? Those may affect the performance of the mouse cursor. Also I encourage you to post the question on dedicated mac forums for a better response - someone might have solved your problem already :)

MarzEz said...

hey... it's a mac.
you can't expect macs to be perfect because they're far from it.
I don't know which version of mac i have, but when i log in it usually makes me type in my password twice.
so...
if it's a mac, don't expect much.

btw, on topic, my mouse cursor takes a while to load on wakeup, and i have 3/4 of a gig of ram.

Anonymous said...

The leopard cursors are way too small and if you make them larger, they look all jaggy like the above pic and yes they are just horribly ugly. Doesn't Leopard justify some nice pretty 3d style cursors? I wish there was a program like stardock's cursorfx for the mac. I am really shocked at how ugly and "dos" like these mac cursors are. Yuck!!

Kevin said...

I stumbled across your blog trying to fix the cursor problem. I'm surprised Apple doesn't release an update to this problem, and a problem it is. Maybe they don't have the resources in development to fix the problem. In Windows, you can do all kinds of stuff with your mouse pointer, but then, Microsoft as all kinds of cash.

It's disappointing, but I think I'm going to have to leave my Mac Book Pro at home, and use it primarily for Garageband, then buy another SMALLER laptop for word processing. I will definitely be installing Linux on the new laptop.

Maybe I would think there is more hope if the battery life on my Mac Book Pro weren't so average. Now that I think of it, it's probably less expensive to just buy an extra battery. I wonder how long the extra batteries for the Mac Book Pro hold their charge when they aren't plugged in.

You would think replacing the mouse cursor wouldn't be that challenging. Shouldn't it be as straight forward as replacing a graphic with another one?

Jeff Kover said...

I am also an Ubuntu user (at home) and recent MAC user at work. I am also appalled at the mouse issue in my MAC. I would really love a focus under mouse feature in my MAC like I have in Linux. The MAC blows away any PC I have used. Are there any ideas on how to give a window focus without raising it? Thanks.

Jeff

Cody said...

I think the Mac cursor is the nicest of the three. I don't find it ugly. Things are smaller on mac sometimes to make the screen look more roomy. The size of the pointer keeps it from looking big and blocky like Windows. It does surprise me that there's no simple option to change the cursor, however.

Greg Lloyd said...

I adjusted my mouse pointer to make it bigger and now when I get the Busy spinning mouse pointer it is larger and pixelated and very ugly and I cannot figure out how to make it revert to the original size. This sucks.

Anil said...

@Gregg
You can make the mouse pointer smaller from the same screen you used to make it bigger. Open system preferences, go to Universal Access, click on Mouse and Keyboard, and use the slider to make it larger.

Anonymous said...

Well everyone, I'm sure that if you all went to the apple website and then went to downloads and looked under utilities of something, or searched cursors, that you will find many programs- and they will probably be free. In the meantime, someone with Xcode who knows how to use it (unlike me) should start working on a program under the freeware license for this problem I think. And by the way, the windows cursor is waayyyyy uglier than the mac cursor.

Anonymous said...

lol the mac cursor is waaay cooler than the geeky windows one

Anonymous said...

The Mac arrow pointer is OK for me. In fact, I wish it remained the default for working with text. The "I-beam" text cursor always sandwiches itself between the wrong letters when I use it. Also, the cross-hair is deceptive - it does not mark the mid-line of where you want to be (more like it marks the bottom of where you want to be) and so sometimes it attaches to the wrong row of text, if you center it.

Also, Mighty Mouse is not available for Leopard users. A nice Leopard upgrade would be to provide various sizes and styles of cursors. For me, the cute ones are not useful, when trying to get between letters of text. A rifle scope cross-hair would be good....

Anonymous said...

i have to agree with you. but who ever found the mighty mouse can you tell me where you got it because i can't find one htat works??

Anonymous said...

I like how my last post mysteriously dissapeared! Oh well. You guys enjoy your Windows lockups and Linux hassles. I'll stick with my apparently horribly ugly and invisible mouse cursor.

Anonymous said...

Holy @#%#% - I just started using a MAC at work, and was excited after seeing all of these commercials and hearing everyone say how great MACs are - and NOW I CAN'T EVEN CHANGE MY MOUSE CURSOR!?!? WTF? Windows has been able to do this since day one. What's up?

Anonymous said...

Most of your are just ignorant...

One of basic ideas of using a mac is that there's not a cluttered mess of options to adjust absolutely everything... It's a simplicity thing.

The cursor is also SUPPOSED to disappear when you start typing or scrolling with the keyboard...

If Windows is better because you can use a stupid dinosaur icon as your cursor, or you can make the cursor huge... Then USE WINDOWS INSTEAD.

There's no point in complaining, many of the things you folks have a problem with, are that certain way FOR A REASON. If you want a cluttered "useless feature" rich OS, then use Windows.

Anonymous said...

I dont know why everyone is complaining so much!!! The cursor isnt that bad and its wayyy better than the windows one... the windows one is UUUGGGGLLLLYYYY!!!!!! And at the top its talking about how she tried to make it bigger and it came out huge... you dont have to go the whole way to large! you can go somewhere in the middle or just one little notch above normal! I can see my cursor perfectly fine! And its supposed to go away when you type so it doesnt get in the way! NO DUH!!!

Anonymous said...

I think the cursor is good. I mean its not like its doing anything wrong.

Blank said...

*Agree completely with Anonymous @ 6:44pm*

If someone can complain about the Mac cursor, then they're pretty desperate to find something to complain about - and they don't give an impression that they know what they're talking about.
At least, that's the impression logical people get...

Anonymous said...

ROFL The mouse pointer disappears when you type intentionally. This is also a feature in Windows. Oh my god, where's my mouse pointer!?!?!?

Philip Dahl said...

The OS X mouse pointer is not boring! if you look at your examples, I mean actually look at it, you're completely wrong. There is not only shading and lighting on the very unobtrusive OS X pointer, but there was actually thought put into the all black look of it. It is what allows them to make it so small actually surpassing the amount of visibility of the white, black outlined, pointers.

Jån P said...

sometimes my curser icon changes (like when ur adjusting the dock size from the little line on the dock) and it just stays like that.... :/

OS X 10.5

MacKat said...

You said that sometimes when typing, the cursor disappears? That's intentional. You see, when typing, some people don't bother to move it out of the way of their typing, so Mac OS X hides it when you're typing. It can also be hidden by pressing escape, normally.
Please, Apple, PLEASE don't make it like the Windows cursor. I intentionally replaced all my Windows cursors with the Mac OS X set because the Windows ones are horrible. They're white, and seemingly mocking; they're massive! I feel more professional when things - like Apple's cursors and GUI - stay out of my way when I want them to.

Chadwick Boggs said...

It should invert the colors under it and smoke instead of shadow. I loose the pointer and the cursor all of the time. I love Apple, but this detail is huge.

Icepup said...

Yo,
I am leaving this comment to tell ask you if there is any FREE mouse changing software for mac? I need to know please tell me!
P.S. If there is can you give me a link? Anybody?

krystle said...

Hey,
iCursor is actually free and it is pretty cool. Adds some nice effects to the mouse. at least it takes attention of of that ugly black idiot cursor. When is someone at apple finally gonna notice that everybody hates the stupid cursor and change it!

Anonymous said...

i think it's just preference. i LOVE the OS X cursor and think that the Windows and Ubuntu ones are ugly. It's just personal preference and I wouldn't change the pointer for the world

M.J. Christensen said...

I really need a solution for this. The default cursor is just perfect on my 13" MacBook Pro. Until I bring it home and DARE to plug it into my 23" monitor. Then I can never find the damned thing. I just want it a little bigger. Windows 3.1 could do this. I'm not saying anything good about Windows, I don't even have a dual-boot on my Mac ... I'm just saying this is not a new, nor stupid, feature just because you don't need it. Just for accessibility reasons, I should be able to enable things like mouse trails, larger pointers, etc, without it being ridiculously ugly. I chose a Mac because I didn't want an ugly computer.

Cursorator said...

The cursor is now scalable without getting pixelated.

I don't see what's wrong with the design though. I usually work on a light background and black is the stronges contrast to white. The white borders helps when I'm on a dark background. The light shadow gives a consistent look as the white border don't disappeare completely when on a white background.

Usefullness over prettyness. Allways. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm writing this from 7 YEARS in the future (of this article. Think 'bout that ;.).

I'm happy to report Mac's latest version - Shasta Dam - has THE COOLEST CURSOR.

In fact, Mac's don't USE cursors anymore.

Since Steve Jobs came back (his engrams were downloaded into genetically cloned & 'speed-matured' - turtleneck & all - Steve Jobs Jr.), he gave much thought - obsessed, actually about this, and decided to chuck the whole cursor concept.

You now use the most beautiful, and simple cursor; your finger.

Ok - yes, ha-ha, but, I AM writing 'from the future' of this article's original posting, and - sad to say but in the time since this was posted the Mac cursor looks pretty much exactly the same - fugly.

As for the links for cursor replacements w - which, apparently WAS free, isn't, & the third - well, it's trying to connect to Rogue Amoeba (a company I'm familiar with), but, it's just 'hanging.'

Anonymous said...

Lol paying for a mouse cursor #linux