How To: Find your mouse cursor after you have lost it on Windows

We move our mouse (or trackpad) but the cursor is no where to be found. Sometimes it camouflages with the background while other times our eyes just play tricks on us. Nonetheless, it has happened to the best of us. I just came across a simple trick to help out in situations like these and figured I should better human-kind by sharing it with all dotTechies.

The trick is very simple; it involves enabling an option in your mouse settings so every time you press the Ctrl key (left or right Ctrl) on your keyboard, your mouse cursor will be highlighted with circles so you can easily find it. In other words, every time you press the Ctrl key something like this will happen:

The round circles around the mouse pointer are what show up when you press the Ctrl key.

To enable this feature (it is built into Windows) follow these simple directions:

  • Open “Start Menu”.
  • Go to “Control Panel”.
  • Find “Mouse” and click on it. “Mouse Properties” should open.
  • Go to “Pointer Options” and check “Show location of pointer when I press the CTRL key”:

  • Click “Apply” and “OK”.

Now whenever you press the Ctrl key (left or right) the round circles should surround your mouse pointer indicating where it is located.

Thanks Someguy!

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63 comments

  1. bella

    my cursor disappears when I get to my tile page I ave ctrl ,an I ave f5 ,an fn the tiles show up with white box around tiles when I go on them but cursor still not showing an I cant get on start to go into my control panel

  2. gospelmidi

    Q.: Windows 8.1 – the mouse loses focus and the cursor disappears – not just mouse lag – what do I do?

    Does ANYONE know how to get the mouse to respond in a timely fashion, without the cursor disappearing, getting lost, or taking a vacation for 5, 10, 15, or even 30 seconds at a time?
    _________________________________

    John: use a different flavor of cheese

    __________________________________

    Windows Support: You may have accidentally pressed the Fn key which toggles the mouse off and on. That key varies by make and model of computer, but F5 is most common, or else F9, F6, or F7. Press the key once to toggle the mouse on again.

    If your laptop does not have separate Function keys, you will need to hold down the Fn key when you press the dual-purpose key that is labelled F5, F9, F6, or F7.
    __________________________________

    Windows 8.1: Your cursor has probably migrated to Display 2, and you have Display 2 turned off. Start -> Control Panel -> Appearance and Personalization -> Display -> Screen Resolution -> Multiple displays -> Show desktop only on 1
    Click Apply and OK.

    It may also be worthwhile for you to disable Display 2 in Device Manager.

  3. mattie

    You’re right about the circles but the thing is my computer wont let the cusor appear and its.so frustrating! The comp. I have is a touch screen and its a Toshiba brand. I wish I could mention more but this thing doesnt even have a start menu.

  4. thor

    so i learned FN is a key that might be on laptops. for those of us with regular keyboards, it doesn’t help. i did some research and found out there may be a way to simulate the FN key but it seemed like a hassle.

  5. tom

    It would be a nice tip if it worked. I have WinXP and used this “tip” and it does not work. Sure I get the circles where the mouse pointer should be but the pointer is still gone and unable to operate the mouse. I could move the mouse around and the circles stay in the same location..

  6. JJ

    @Lacerda:

    Lacerda…have a similar problem with a brand new Toshiba Satellite C855 (non-touch screen) laptop pre-loaded with W8. A secondary identity has completely lost the onscreen pointer/cursor from the TouchPad. Have attempted to tweak the TouchPad settings but to no avail. The primary identity has the pointer/cursor…just not the other identity…

  7. Lacerda

    Dear all,

    I recently bought a Sony Vaio with Windows 8 which was working just fine. However, yesterday I turned it on and the pointer had disappeared. So I’m kind of ‘locked’ in Windows 8’s initial screen. I can’t do anything and I don’t even know if it’s a Windows problem or a Sony problem. Can anyone help me??

  8. pbmax626

    @Mike: Well, Mike, I’ve been using Windows since it was MS-DOS :-) I just bought a new laptop with Windows 8 installed. I knew about the CTRL key option already, but it hasn’t helped with my current situation. The pointer is visible on the initial screen and the user selection screen, but once it opens the main page with all the tiles, it’s invisible. The ctrl key will show me where it is, but nothing I’ve tried allows me to see it. I changed it to inverse colors (i.e., black instead of white), but it still doesn’t appear. I can get around somewhat by using the keyboard, but of course there are limits to what you can do that way. If you or anyone else has any suggestions, I’m open. At this point, the machine isn’t much better than an expensive paperweight.

  9. mohhsin

    Hello I need help I havn’t lost my cursor however when I open this program Sony vegas my cursor disappears and the pointer is never there when i click control it shows where my cursor is but the cursor isn’t there? I need HELP!

  10. alan

    Perhaps a browser Addon is hooking onto your mouse.

    I suddenly lost control of right clicks – the context menu vibrated drastically.

    I downloaded Autoruns
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb963902

    Under the Explorer Tab I saw that the file sharing application DropBox had made TEN hooks to itself.
    I unchecked the 10 boxes for these hooks to disable and my mouse worked properly again.

    With those hooks disabled I could still share files and decided those hooks had no legitimate purpose.
    I found dropbox application folder files with timestamps at the very same second as the System Events recorded power up.
    I do not trust applications that try to start-up before the Firewall has started – what are they phoning home with ! ! !
    DropBox may be legitimate but it totally lost my trust and I chose to restore a partition image and ensure there was no evil remnant.

  11. Ellen Robison

    @Someguy:

    Thanks for the tip. I actually came here looking for other help about my mouse though. can you help?
    After surfing the web for some time and having Mozilla open with a few tabs open inside one window, my mouse begins to operate erractically. The pointer starts to lag behind.
    Also i wonder f yo have any idea as to why when I watch videos the video lags behind the audio a bit then catches up to it. This may happen quite often during a video. The video can be from Netflix or an online Webcast sermon from Harvest church or David Jeremiah.org I have a 2 yr old Systemax with a Dual Core processor 5050e, 2.60Ghz 3.25 GB of Ram, WinXP Pro with approx 65% of the C drive free and I have defragged scanned with anti virus and also disabled user switching. I also placed my pointer speed on fast hoping that would help.
    Anything else you can think of? It would be greatly appreciated. I live on a low income budget of only $269.00 a month state disability and cannot afford a PC fixer guy. So all i get is what I can find online.
    Thanks so much for your time,

  12. alan

    @Mike:

    You are so superior, or are you.

    Why must you gratuitously make snide comments about people with vision defects that can give difficulty locating a cursor on a some backgrounds.

    People who are otherwise more than competent,
    people who had a good upbringing that taught them to be polite,
    and taught them how to spell,
    and the difference between “LOOSE the cursor” and “LOSE the cursor”.

    This may help ! !
    http://www.ericpinder.com/html/lose.html

  13. Mike

    I can’t believe this is a topic, as I can’t believe most of the responses of most places of the internet. If you’re anywhere in the 20th or 21st century, and, have been associated with computers for more than ten minutes, then how can it be possible to “loose” your mouse cursor? I can’t believe some of the responses from people to web sites and to topics, is it so hard to stay within the ballpark of technology? Win98, WinSE, operating with DOS, Wow – prehistoric. If you have more than a dollar fifty you can upgrade anything. Keeping up with the Jones’s isn’t what it’s all about. Asking to put a jet engine into a Model T is the most rediculous. Most of the responses everywhere could be eliminated if people would use the part of their body that seems to be depleating. Good God. It doesn’t take very much to operate or keep ones computer up to par. Most of the time it is user error.

  14. Aesar

    This can be a useful tool unless someone (like myself) who extensively uses keyboard shortcuts instead of the mouse (when typing I don’t like to constantly move back and forth between the keyboard and the mouse), it can become very irritating to constantly see little flashing rings popping up around the cursor every time I release the Ctrl key; and I do that a lot, especially when editing and coding.

  15. Samuel

    In one of my “I’m too lazzy to change” moments I found this feature but decided to stick with my current method which is to scroll to the top left corner like crazy and then I know it’s there.

  16. Alan

    @OldElmerFudd:

    NB This is NOT a reply to OldElmerFudd – I just cannot find a reply button that aims @ the article.

    For those who initially think this does not work.

    There is an error in both this write-up and also in the Mouse Properties GUI.
    The circles do NOT appear when you press the Ctrl Key,
    they appear when you RELEASE the Ctrl Key.

    I configured my system like this 2 years ago.
    I have just re-visited by Mouse Properties and find that all 5 option boxes are ticked – I do not know if one of the other options has inverted this circle effect.

    I am using XP Home edition with SP3.

    Regards
    Alan

  17. Ozzie

    @Refpeuk: LOL! You may well be! I am somewhat afraid of fiddling with things lest I cause computer mayhem (once bitten, twice shy, as they say), so I tend to leave well enough alone. But this is a good tip as my mouse often goes walkabout. Thanks Ashraf!

  18. smokexx

    If I remember correctly back in my win 95/98 days, my college friends and I had some fun with this same pointer locator. I actually changed my pc pointer to a missile to make the feature look nerdy cooler!:). But you still need to install a microsoft app(intellipoint, i think) to use this. That’s why I was glad when MS included this as part of their OS built-in features. Thanks for the heads up once again Ash and Someguy.

  19. Blackbird

    In Vista: Start>Control Center>In Control Panel Home>Under “Hardware and Sound”>Mouse>Pointer Options Tab> Put a check in (At bottom): Show location of pointer when I Press the CTRL key>Click on “Apply”, then OK. (DONE)
    (You can also SPEED UP your mouse at the top of this window by moving the slider to Fast in “Select a pointer speed.”
    And…. RIGHT BELOW that… you can check the box to “Enhance pointer precision”
    (DON’T forget to click the “Apply” button.

  20. V.Subramanian

    “??ashraf??nice friend
    Dear Ashraf is the founder of dotTech. Ashraf spends (insane hours on dotTech )insane hours on dotTech (usually writing articles but sometimes doing absolutely nothing except staring). Yes he is weird, but he is also very friendly.
    I am proud of you about your sincere dedication to the ambition in undrstanding the www field and sharining with other people, like me.
    Iam a subscriber to your elabarate site.Yet ,since I am having limited knowledge in computer, unable to understant the findings you have made.
    I have tried to record a vote on you for the award but unable to do that for lack of knowledge to do.
    I am aged 73years,May God bless you.
    I have made my curser according to your instructions.
    Thank you with my sincere blessings to you.
    V.Subramanian