Make the Mouse Pointer on Your Mac Bigger

Enlarge the Cursor or Shake to Find? You Can Do Both

Mouse pointer on image of a house
Gregor Schuster/The Image Bank/Getty Images

It’s not you; your Mac’s cursor really is getting smaller, and it’s not your eyesight that's causing the problem. With both larger and high-resolution displays becoming the norm, you may have noticed your mouse or trackpad pointer is getting smaller. With many of the Mac’s laptop lineup sporting Retina displays, as well as the 27-inch iMac now only available with a high-resolution Retina display, and the 21.5-inch iMac keeping pace by offering a few models with a 4K display, the poor mouse pointer is getting harder and harder to see as it scurries across your Mac’s screen.

There are, however, a few ways to make Mac’s pointer larger, so it's easier to spot.

Accessibility Preference Pane

The Mac has long included a system preference pane that allows Mac users with vision or hearing difficulties to configure Mac’s many graphical interface elements to better meet their needs. This includes the ability to control the display's contrast, zoom in to see details of smaller objects, display captions where appropriate, and provide a voiceover. But it also has the ability to control the cursor size, letting you adjust the size to what works best for you.

If you find yourself sometimes hunting for the mouse or trackpad cursor, the Accessibility preference pane is a good place to start making changes to your Mac’s cursor.

Changing the Mac’s Cursor Size

To make the cursor pointer just the right size for your eyes, follow these instructions:

  1. Launch System Preferences by clicking its icon in the Dock, or selecting 'System Preferences' from the Apple menu.
  1. In the System Preferences window, click either the Universal Access preference pane (OS X Lion and earlier) or the Accessibility preference pane (OS X Mountain Lion and later).
  2. In the preference pane that opens, click the Mouse tab (OS X Lion and earlier) or click the Display item in the sidebar (OS X Mountain Lion and later).
  1. In the window is a horizontal slider called Cursor Size. Grab the slider and drag it to adjust the mouse pointer's size. You can dynamically see the mouse pointer resize as you drag the slider.
  2. Once you have the cursor set at a size you like, close the preference pane.

That's all there is to adjusting the size of the mouse cursor.

But wait, there’s actually more. With the advent of OS X El Capitan, Apple added a feature to dynamically resize the cursor when you have difficulty finding it on your display. With no official name given by Apple for this feature, it's commonly referred to as “Shake to Find."

Shake to Find

This simple feature helps you discover where your Mac’s cursor is on the screen when it's hard to see. Shaking your Mac’s mouse back and forth, or moving your finger on the trackpad to and fro, will cause the cursor to temporarily enlarge, making it easy to spot on your display. Once you stop the shaking motion, the cursor reverts to its original size, as set in the Accessibility preference pane.

Turn on Shake to Find

  1. If you've closed the Accessibility preference pane, go ahead and open the pane once more (instructions are available a few paragraphs above).
  2. In the Accessibility preference pane, select the Display item in the sidebar.
  1. Just below the Cursor size slider, you adjusted previously is the 'Shake mouse pointer to locate' item. Place a checkmark in the box to enable the feature.
  2. With the check box filled in, give your mouse a shake or shake your finger across your trackpad. The faster you shake, the larger the cursor becomes. Stop shaking, and the cursor returns to its usual size.

Shaking and Cursor Size

If you're using OS X El Capitan or later, you may find that you don’t need to enlarge the cursor at all; the shake to find feature may be all you need. My own preference is for a slightly larger cursor, so I don’t need to shake the mouse very often.

It’s a tradeoff between the two; more shaking or a larger cursor. Give it a try; you're bound to find the combination that best suits your needs.