How to Fix It: Mouse Cursor Disappears on Mac

It’s frustrating! You go to use your Mac and the mouse cursor is nowhere to be found in the window you are looking at or even the screen. This can occur in a variety of ways and there are multiple things that cause it.

The good thing is that there are solutions for most of these issues, and when in doubt rebooting your computer is sometimes the simplest and most effective way of fixing this.

I’m Eric, a software engineer, and tech enthusiast. I have seen many different problems with computers and other tech devices and while it can be difficult, I do enjoy trying to find solutions. After I find solutions to these problems I like to help others by sharing the information.

If you are having problems with your Mac cursor disappearing, stick around and we will take a look at some of the most common issues and what you can do to fix or at least mitigate them.

What Type Of Issue Are You Seeing (or Not Seeing)?

To best find a solution to this issue, you will first need to identify what type of problem you are seeing:

  • Are you having trouble seeing the pointer over the top of some colors and then it seems to appear over others?
  • Does seem to be sporadic and usually after you have not been using it?
  • Does it only disappear over certain windows? 
  • Or does it disappear from everywhere on your entire desktop? 

Answering these questions can help you to determine what is going on and possibly fix the problem.

Issue 1: Sporadic Disappearance

If you seem to lose the pointer sometimes and then it comes back and seems to operate normally. It’s possible that you are just having trouble seeing it at certain spots on your desktop, due to background colors and the size of your pointer. There are two simple solutions to this.

Solution #1: Shake Your Mouse

The easiest way to locate your cursor is to shake your mouse or rapidly move it back and forth. If the setting on your Mac is enabled, your cursor will enlarge for a few moments so that you can clearly see where it is.

If this does not work, you can check and enable this setting if it has not already been enabled. Use the following steps to check/enable it.

Step 1: Open the Apple menu by clicking on the Apple symbol in the top left corner of your screen, snd select System Preferences.

Step 2: In the System Preferences window select Accessibility.

Step 3: Click on Display on the left side of the window and then the Cursor tab.

Step 4: Ensure that the Shake mouse pointer to locate option is selected. If it is not, click on it to select it.

Solution #2: Increase The Pointer Size

Another thing that you can quickly do is to permanently increase the size of your pointer. This will help you to see it all the time if the issue is just that you are unable to spot it at certain times. You can use the following steps to increase the size.

  • Step 1: Open the Apple menu by clicking on the Apple symbol in the top left corner of your screen, and select System Preferences.
  • Step 2: In the System Preferences window select Accessibility.
  • Step 3: Click on Display on the left side of the window and select the Cursor tab.
  • Step 4: Locate the Cursor size slider and slide it to the right to increase the size of your cursor.

Issue 2: Disappearance from Specific Windows

If you are finding that the pointer only disappears when hovering over a specific window or app, then it could be a sign that the issue is with the application, or the application does not have enough memory to run efficiently.

Many times when an app is slowed by lack of available memory, the cursor will disappear over that window. You can possibly solve this by closing other apps that you have running. Try closing all open apps and see if that makes a difference.

If you find this fixes the problem you might need to ensure that you don’t have other apps running when using that particular one. If you’re looking for a permanent solution you might consider upgrading your Mac’s memory by adding more. 

Just keep in mind that many Mac models do not have upgradable memory, so this is not an option for everyone.

Issue 3: Cursor Is Completely Gone from Everywhere on Your Desktop

If it’s not showing up anywhere on your desktop, it could still be a memory problem as we have discussed above. The other options are that it is some other type of software problem with your macOS, a hardware failure, or as simple as you’re looking at the wrong monitor.

Incorrect Display

This is a simple one and may sound stupid but it does happen. In fact, it happens to me quite often. If you use multiple displays with your computer, it could just be that the mouse pointer is on one of the other monitors. Check all of them to ensure this is not the case.

If your pointer shows up on one monitor but not the other when you move the cursor to it, it could be that you do not have your displays set up correctly and it is going off-screen instead of to the next monitor. Ensure that you have the displays set up and positioned properly. 

Memory Problem

This could still be a problem with low or unavailable memory. Restarting your system can often clear this up, so if you reboot and find the problem goes away, it is a sign that it is a memory problem.

When rebooting you can also try resetting your NVRAM. This can possibly get rid of the problem. Sometimes your non-volatile random access memory can get cluttered or corrupted and cause all kinds of glitches including mouse problems.

Resetting it can often clear these problems quite easily. Just follow the steps below.

  • Step 1: Completely power your Mac down.
  • Step 2: Turn it back on and press the Option, Command, R, and P keys.
  • Step 3: Hold the keys down for about 20 seconds as the system starts up and your NVRAM should be cleared.

If you are still seeing issues it could just be that your system does not have enough available memory for the applications you are trying to run.

If possible you might need to upgrade your memory, but if that is not an option you will have to monitor the applications you use and figure out which ones are using it up. When using the apps that are memory hogs, limit the other apps you open at the same time.

Software Glitch

The issue could be caused by a software glitch in the operating system or even one of your apps. Make sure that your Mac has the latest operating system updates. Also, try to monitor and figure out what applications are running when this happens.

If you can determine what application is causing it, look to see if that application has any updates or information about bugs that may cause this problem.

Hardware Failure

If it’s not a software problem, it may be that your mouse or trackpad is failing. If you have a spare one lying around, try plugging it in and see if it still has problems. If you don’t have a spare, you can try plugging the possible bad one into another computer to see if it still works.

Another option is to try disconnecting your mouse and see if the trackpad works without the cursor disappearing.

If you are just using your trackpad and suspect it is failing, try borrowing a mouse from a co-worker or friend, plug it in, and see if it gets rid of the problem. 

If any of these tests indicate that your mouse or trackpad is not working, you might need to purchase a new mouse to use in place of the old one or your trackpad.

Final Words

A disappearing mouse pointer can be a real annoyance and will make using your Mac very frustrating. Especially when you are trying to get something done and you are unable to use your computer. It can really slow you down and make your Mac seem useless.

I hope that the information provided above can help you to determine the cause of your issues and hopefully provide a solution to your problem.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or comments.

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