How to customize mouse cursors or pointers in Windows

Have you ever wanted to change your mouse pointers from the default scheme in Windows? Perhaps you want cursors that are larger or that are less of a strain on your eyes. If so, we have some good news: in this article we will show you how to customize mouse cursors in Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7, to suit your own preferences. We will also show you how to delete mouse pointer schemes which you don't want to use anymore. Got you interested? Let's start:

Mouse cursors in Windows

Windows uses ".ani" (animated cursor) and ".cur" (cursor) files for mouse pointers. Cursors are usually around 9-10KB in size each, while animated cursors can be as large as 500-600KB.

The default folder where Windows stores these files is "C:\Windows\Cursors". If you download a new mouse pointer scheme, it is best to extract it in the same folder and have it make its own subfolder under "C:\Windows\Cursors".

The procedure for changing the mouse cursor is much the same in Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7. We'll illustrate most of the article with screenshots from with Windows 10.

How to access the Mouse Properties window in Windows 10

The fastest way to open the Mouse Properties window is to use Cortana. Type the expression “mouse settings” in the search bar from your taskbar, and then click or tap on the Mouse result.

The long way to get to the same Mouse Properties window, is to use the Settings app. Open the Start Menu and click or tap on the Settings shortcut. Inside the Settings, go to Devices, then to Mouse & touchpad, and then click or tap on Additional mouse options.

Another way is to use the Control Panel as your starting point. To quickly open it, right click or tap and hold on the Start Menu icon, and then click or tap on the Control Panel shortcut. Inside Control Panel, go to Hardware and Sound and then click or tap on Mouse.

Now the Mouse Properties window should be opened. It will look like this:

How to access the Mouse Properties window in Windows 8.1

In Windows 8.1, switch to the Start screen, and start typing “mouse settings” on it. Once the search results are displayed, click or tap on “Change mouse settings”.

Or, if you prefer, open the Control Panel. A fast way to launch it, is to right click or tap and hold on the Windows icon from the bottom left corner of the screen, and then click or tap on the Control Panel shortcut. In the Control Panel, go to Hardware and Sound. Then, click or tap on Mouse, in the Devices and Printers section.

The Mouse Properties window will look like this:

How to access the Mouse Properties window in Windows 7

In Windows 7, start by typing mouse into the Start Menu search box. Then, click on the Mouse search result.

Or, if you prefer the long way, open the Control Panel (by clicking on its shortcut from the Start Menu), then go to Hardware and Sound, and then click on the Mouse link from the Devices and Printers section.

This is what the Mouse Properties window looks like in Windows 7:

How to change the mouse pointer scheme used by Windows

Once you have opened the Mouse Properties window, click or tap to select the Pointers tab. Inside, you'll see some familiar shapes in the list of Windows default pointers.

Click on the drop-down menu to see the other pointer sets built by default into Windows.

This is the set available in Windows 10. The Windows 8.1 set is exactly the same, but the Windows 7 set is different. That’s because Windows 7 has Aero options that Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 do not - but wait and see what you can do if you really want the Aero shapes in Windows 10 or Windows 8.1 too.

In either system, once you've chosen one of the pre-installed mouse schemes, you'll be shown a display of the various cursor shapes that come with that set. This will help you scroll through the possibilities and pick what you want.

Choose one of the pre-installed mouse schemes from the drop-down list. Here, for example, we've chosen the Windows Black (extra large) system scheme.

As you can see, the shapes and sizes of the cursors have changed. This makes them more visible. You can also choose to have a shadow under the cursor if you want, by clicking or tapping the box marked "Enable pointer shadow". This is worth experimenting with to see if you like the effect.

Once you've found a scheme you like, click Apply or OK.

How to customize individual mouse pointers in Windows

But what if you don't like every shape and size supplied with the scheme? Select a pointer that you'd like to change and click or tap Browse. This will open up the folder in which the cursor images are stored, and you can scroll through the thumbnails to choose one you like better.

As you can see, the Aero shapes are available in Windows 10 and also in Windows 8.1. They're just not listed as a separate Aero theme. Here we've chosen the familiar round "busy" cursor shape, in large size to go along with the other cursors in the set.

You can go through all the schemes and select whatever shapes you want. If you should change your mind about any of those shapes, just click or tap on Use Default and you'll go back to the original set (but of course that means any other changes you made will go back to the defaults as well).

It’s important to keep in mind that once you've changed the cursors to your liking, Windows will treat your changes as an entirely new theme. Be sure to save this theme so you can choose it again. Click or tap the Save As button and give your theme a descriptive name.

In Windows 7, you have the choice of allowing themes to change your mouse pointers. If you choose to do this, then if you install a new theme that has its own set of cursors, those will supersede the ones you've chosen. If you want to keep the same set regardless, be sure not to check that box.

How to delete a mouse pointer scheme in Windows

You can't delete Windows' built-in schemes (as you see, the Delete button is greyed out).

But, once you have made changes to a theme and saved it, the Delete button will be active. If you want to get rid of your theme, just click or tap that button.

Then, confirm the deletion process.

Where to find mouse cursors on the internet?

There are many places on the internet where you can find different mouse cursors. For example, DeviantArt has a good collection of pointers that you can download and install. And, we also published a great article on the subject: Top 20 best mouse cursor schemes for Windows.

Is that all there is?

There are plenty of custom mouse-cursor themes available for free on the internet. But there are also a lot of the custom themes that cost money, and some of the free ones are little more than havens for malware. You'll have to decide whether you want to pay for a specialized cursor scheme. A Google or Bing search on custom mouse pointers and your operating system will turn up plenty of options. Have you made changes to your mouse pointer? Have you found good paid or free schemes? Please share your experiences in the comments.