Configure cursors in Windows Vista (Mouse pointers settings)
This tutorial explains how to configure your cursors and mouse pointer settings in Windows Vista. The cursor, or mouse pointer, is the arrow or shape that indicates the current location of your mouse pointer on screen. Windows Vista uses 3D cursors with bevel effect and accompanying shadows. Vista ships with several cursor themes ("pointer schemes"), and more can be downloaded online. Later tutorials will cover mouse and wheel mouse options, speed, accuracy, etc.
Loading Windows Vista's Personalization Options
To access the personalization options and settings in Windows Vista, right-click on an empty area of your desktop, and choose "Personalize".
This will open the "Appearance and Personalization" page of the Control Panel, which exposes the seven sets of customizable properties for "Window Color and Appearance", "Desktop Background", "Screen Saver", "Sounds", "Mouse Pointers", "Theme", and "Display Settings".
To load the cursor and mouse pointer options, click on the Mouse Pointers link: this will open the Mouse Properties window, the central repository of customizable settings related to mouse usage and cursor appearance in Windows Vista.
Configuring pointer schemes in Windows Vista
The Mouse Properties window automatically opened with the Pointers tab selected: this is the tab that allows you to switch the mouse pointer scheme, or theme, that Windows Vista uses.
The Scheme dropdown menu at the top shows you which cursor scheme Vista is currently using: to switch to another pointer theme, pick another scheme from the menu. By default, if your computer is recent enough to handle fancy graphics, Windows Vista uses the Windows Aero scheme described earlier. You can switch to more austere or more fantasist pointer schemes on the fly (click Apply to preview).
Customizing individual mouse pointers
You can preview the cursor assigned to each case under the Customize listing: double-click on any mouse pointer to assign a different cursor file to the particular case. (Clicking Browse achieves the same effect, and lets you choose an alternate pointer.) To restore the original cursor to the scheme, click Use Default.
The Browse dialog lets you look at all cursor in the default location: C:\Windows\Cursors - a regular folder you can browse like any other. If you download new cursors from the internet, place them inside the Cursors folder to see easily find them from the Mouse Properties window.
Also notice that a single click on a cursor file shows you a 1:1 scale preview of the mouse pointer's look (a double-click will select the pointer and dismisses the window). File of type "
CUR" are regular cursor files; files with the extension "
ANI" are animated mouse pointers, which can also be previewed.
You can narrow down the mouse pointers you are looking at from the "Files of type" dropdown menu: by default, both types of cursors are displayed in the Browse window. Choose Animated Cursors (*.ani) or Static Cursors (*.cur) to limit your search.
Saving custom mouse pointer schemes
If you like the changes you made, you can save the set of cursors you have picked and customized as a scheme. To do so, click on the Save As button: pick a name for your cursor scheme, and click OK. Your cursor scheme has been saved, can be customized again and re-saved, etc. Now that your cursor settings have been saved, you can switch to another cursor scheme and revert to yours by selecting it again under the cursor schemes dropdown menu.
The "None" cursor scheme
This special cursor scheme is the simplest available in Windows Vista: it is very plain, but ideal if you are running Vista on an under-powered computer. While visually pleasing, the fancy cursor schemes that ship with Windows Vista are more demanding on your graphics card than the None scheme. If you are running Vista on a laptop, using this cursor scheme will help slightly by extending your battery life (i.e. the amount of time for which you can run Vista on your laptop's batteries).
Deleting cursor schemes
If you no longer wish to see or use a particular cursor scheme, simply select it in the dropdown menu, and click the Delete button. Note that this will not delete the mouse pointer files themselves, only the scheme file, which contains links to the particular cursor file names you have customized to use with the scheme.
Windows Vista will sometimes gray out (disable) the Delete button: this means that the cursor scheme selected is a "System scheme". All cursor themes also labeled "(system scheme)" cannot be deleted. For other cursor schemes deletion, Vista will simply ask you a confirmation before permanently removing the custom theme from the listing:
After the custom scheme has been deleted, Windows Vista will automatically revert to the "None" cursor scheme: click OK if this is the one you want, otherwise pick another theme and then click OK.
Other Mouse Options and Settings in Windows Vista
This tutorial focuses on the appearance of cursors: another tutorial will cover the various settings Windows Vista exposes to your computer's mouse or laptop's track pad.up ↑