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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou? Pick of the Week
Mouse Locator imageThe macosxhints Rating:
8 of 10
[Score: 8 out of 10]
About a year I ago, I made Mouseposť the pick of the week. This handy little app dimmed your screen, except for a bright circle around the mouse. I find it quite useful during presentations, to help the audience find the cursor. It resides in the menubar, and is invoked via a quick tap of a function key. It works very well for its intended purpose.

On my home Mac, though, I had a related but different issue. I have two fairly-sizable displays, and I'd often find myself flicking the mouse about wildly, trying to locate the cursor. This was especially true if I'd been away from the machine for a few minutes, as I wouldn't have any clue in which application I may have left the cursor. Sure, I could use Mouseposť and hit F1, which is what I had been doing until Friday. Under 10.4, I could also use the Universal Access panel to make a truly huge mouse cursor, but I didn't want it big all the time; I just wanted some way of spotting it a bit quicker.

Then on Friday, I caught this article by Chris Breen over at Macworld. Almost in passing at the end of the article, he mentioned Mouse Locator. This handy utility does one thing: it helps you find the cursor. It works automatically, activating itself after a user-defined 'no cursor movement' time period, anywhere from one second to 30 minutes. (If you'd like to always highlight the cursor, there's also an Always On checkbox.)

And what exactly does Mouse Locator due when activated? Nothing. Until you move the mouse. Then the locator appears, surrounding the cursor. It stays onscreen for a user-definable time period, from one to nine seconds. The default locator graphic is the concentric green circles, shown in the icon at the top of this hint. But you can also easily change the highlight, and there are other images available, from both the developer and third parties. You can even make your own, if you're so inclined. As seen in the screenshot at left, I'm using one of "Ian A's" designs at the moment.

Mouse Locator is perfect for what I need -- it stays out of the way until I need it, which is usually after a longish absence from the machine, so I have it set for a 20 minute delay. You can also use a hotkey to instantly display the locator, which can be very useful when editing a long Word document, for example.

I have only two small complaints about Mouse Locator. The first issue is the most annoying, and it has to do with the custom locator images. When you use a custom image, the program will only look for it in one spot -- in the top level of your user's Pictures folder. It just so happens that I use the Pictures folder as the source for my rotating desktop images on one monitor, so my custom image is now technically in the rotation. Thankfully, I have a lot of pictures in there, and it hasn't come up yet. I've written the author, asking for the ability to specify a location of our choosing (or at least to use any folder other than Pictures), but haven't heard back as of yet. If a fix isn't forthcoming, I'll end up moving my desktop images to a folder of their own, then specifying that folder in the Desktop preferences panel.

The second (minor) issue is that while the instant-on hotkey is user-settable, it's not completely customizable. You can use any combination of Shift, Command, Control, and Option, but only with Space or F1 through F15. I would prefer to use another keystroke, but there's no way to do that presently.

Outside of these two issues, though, I love this system preferences panel. I no longer have to do the repetitive mouse flick to find my cursor when I return after an absence. As soon as I start moving the mouse, it lets me know where it is on the screen.
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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou? | 22 comments | Create New Account
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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou?
Authored by: inemo on Feb 20, '06 07:59:42AM
Where you say
Developer: 2POINT5FISH.COM
in the article, the link starts with
hhttp://
Just a heads up :)

---
http://applemacfreak.com

I'm just a mac baby :)

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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou?
Authored by: robg on Feb 20, '06 08:02:43AM

Thanks; fixed now.

-rob.



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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou?
Authored by: stevebr on Feb 20, '06 08:12:30AM

I have the same issue as you (two monitors, can't find cursor) and I tried Mouseposť briefly for this purpose when you recommended in last year. I appreciate Mouse Locator: the delay to activate is a great idea and the 'always-on' nature of a system preference is a definite plus. Thanks for the... er... pointer.

As an aside: I also use a two-monitor setup with Windows (same screen sizes and resolution as my Mac) and when using Windows, I have the problem of not being able to find the cursor far less frequently. The cursor in Windows is a white arrow with a black frame -- I don't think this is a coincidence.

It would have been nice of the OS X developers to let the user invert the cursor colours when the added the ability to change its size in the 10.4 Universal Access prefpane.



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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou?
Authored by: Baggins on Feb 20, '06 09:39:01AM

Depending on your attitude toward haxies, Unsanity makes a great little app called Mighty Mouse that lets you do all kinds of nifty things with your mouse cursor.

I use it to flip my pointer for left-handed use (it is surprisingly annoying to have the pointer facing the wrong way).



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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou?
Authored by: b00le on Feb 20, '06 08:17:50AM
Wonderful little utility - I too have 2 big screens. A thousand thanks.

[pedant mode] Have you ever seen one of those school productions of Romeo & Juliet where Juliet stands on the balcony gazing about, going "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?", as if she could not see him down below? It usually gets a laugh from the two or three people in the audience who know that 'wherefore' means 'why', not 'where'. i.e.: "Why must your name be Romeo (and not something acceptable to my parents?)"[/pedant mode]

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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou?
Authored by: tknospdr on Feb 20, '06 02:48:52PM

HA! I was going to point out the very same thing.
I guess I'm not the only anal retentive a-hole with a love for old english out there. ;-)



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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou?
Authored by: robg on Feb 20, '06 03:14:44PM

Did either of you notice that I (intentionally) split "wherefor" into "where" and "for?" Now it's not wrong, it's just a nice nonsenical play on words that at least included the "where" bit :)

-rob.



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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou?
Authored by: tknospdr on Feb 20, '06 03:52:25PM

I was just teasing.



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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou?
Authored by: robg on Feb 20, '06 04:55:31PM

Yea, I know. :)

-rob.



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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou?
Authored by: whshep on Feb 20, '06 09:04:07AM

Neither Mousepouse nor Mouse Locator seem to work with Keynote on my system, so they aren't much use for presentations.



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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou?
Authored by: robg on Feb 20, '06 10:44:27AM

You mean when you're actually *giving* the presentation? For that, I think you need a laser pointer to highlight onscreen points. I use it when I have the app switched out and I'm doing a demo in the Finder; both work just fine then.

regards;
-rob.



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I just zoom in
Authored by: mzs on Feb 20, '06 09:17:36AM

Under Universal Access in System Preferences I have Zoom enabled. Whenever I cannot find my mouse I just press opt+cmd+= and my screen zooms in to where my mouse cursor is. Then I zoom back out with opt+cmd+-.



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I just zoom in
Authored by: mark hunte on Feb 20, '06 11:07:06AM

Nice, Thats a Hint in its self..

---
mh



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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou?
Authored by: zacht on Feb 20, '06 09:32:12AM

This is a great utility! I think I like it better than Mousepose'. Well, I'll try it for a while...

On a different note, does anyone know about a similar utility to "locate" the insertion cursor in a block of text? I mean the blinking I-beam. A lot of times I use a key combo like shift-option-right arrow to select & highlight the next word, which makes it pretty visible; but it would be nicer to have a utility similar to this, showing an indicator on a hotkey, or after a period of inactivity perhaps.



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Selection, selection, where are thou?
Authored by: tinb on Feb 20, '06 09:38:13AM

Finding the mouse cursor with the zoom feature is great! It's always better to use built-in features, IMHO.
I am still looking for a means to find the text selection! Sounds strange? Well, did you ever searched a web page for a piece of text and did not find the selection then? That's my problem.



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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou?
Authored by: rlinsurf on Feb 20, '06 10:21:53AM

Hey -- How about posting your neat graphic for Mouse Locator. It looks better to me than the graphics I found at their site ;)

---
Jeffrey



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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou?
Authored by: rlinsurf on Feb 20, '06 10:23:17AM

Whoops... found it. NM :)

---
Jeffrey



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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou?
Authored by: Riker29 on Feb 20, '06 03:43:00PM

So many of these issues could be resolved if there was a "Mouse Trails" option in Mac OS X.

That is one feature that Windows has that I think is fantastic.



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An alternative, albeit more expensive
Authored by: rboisjoly on Feb 20, '06 04:00:29PM

You might also wish to evaluate PinPoint from MacChampion http://www.macchampion.com its a bit more expensive (10$) but has some neat features which are constantly evolving. Nothing beats free of course, but their graphics are nice and the support is great too. I'll openly say they are buddies of mine (family actually), so make of this what you want, but it might offer features not found in other products so you might want to take a look.



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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou?
Authored by: Anonymous on Feb 21, '06 03:33:28AM

Nisus Writer Express http://www.nisus.com/Express/ includes this feature which allows to locate the cursor at any time. Just press Enter, and the line in which the cursor remains hidden becomes highlighted momentarily.



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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou?
Authored by: kimballk on Feb 23, '06 08:16:12PM

I prefer moving a "lost" cursor to a consistent obvious place rather than making it more prominent and therefore easier to find. The latter approach still requires SOME searching, especially with my 23" and 30" screens. When I "lose" the cursor or when I return to a sleeping machine, or to a running screen saver, I hit a key combination (for me, 4 adjacent fingers on control-option-command-space) and the cursor is moved to the position x= 10, y=50; i.e., just below the apple. Same place every time. I use a commercial program called QuicKeys to do this; there may also be freeware or shareware programs which allow you to program a mouse click position with a keyboard shortcut.

---
Kimball Kramer



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Mouse Locator - Cursor, cursor, where for art thou?
Authored by: BobHarris on Mar 04, '06 04:35:28PM

Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing Mouse Locator to my attention!

I find Mouse Locator delightful to use. Configurable so that it is not annoyng, but always on so I do not need to make a decision as to wether my cursor is lost. If I need to make a decision, then I would waste time flicking my mouse (or trackpad) around, then if Mousepose is installed, remember what the key sequence is to activate, or if using Universal Access, remember CMD-OPT-+, etc...

I'm using this on my 14" iBook, my twin 18" monitor PowerMac Dual/G5/2.5GHz. I've put it on my Mom's 17" iMac, and my Mother-in-Law's 12" iBook. I've also recommended Mouse Locator to my brother and a few people at work.

Again, thank you to 2POINT5FISH for Mouse Locator, and MacOSXHints for mentioning it.

Bob Harris



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