Reader Feedback Friday: Pointer pointers

Back in January, I covered Boinx’s Mouseposé, a handy utility—perfect for presentations—that highlights where your mouse cursor is on the screen. In response, I got a few emails from readers recommending similar utilities.

The first is the $10 UltraPointer 1.0.6 . Whereas Mouseposé works by dimming the screen except for the area immediately surrounding the mouse cursor, UltraPointer simply draws a colored indicator around the cursor. You can change the color, size, and shape—circle, ring, crosshair, or line—of the indicator; you can also choose between a solid indicator or a pulsing one. Like Mouseposé, you can activate/deactivate UltraPointer’s indicator via a function (F) key. (When UltraPointer is the active application, you can quickly change many indicator preferences via the keyboard or, in the case of the indicator size, your mouse’s scroll wheel.)

In my testing, UltraPointer is mainly useful as a way to quickly find your cursor; as a presentation tool, it has one significant flaw: When you click-drag with the mouse, the UltraPointer circle remains at the position where you first clicked the mouse; it doesn’t catch up with the actual mouse cursor until you release the mouse button.

The other suggestion I received is the free Mouse Locator 1.0 . Reader Frank Piccolo noted that he’s found Mouse Locator especially useful in finding his mouse cursor in the vast screen area of his new Apple Cinema Display. After trying it out, I have to agree—it’s a great “find my cursor” utility that beats out UltraPointer mainly because of its automatic activation.

Like Mouseposé and UltraPointer, you can activate Mouse Locator via an F-key (or you can keep it on, full-time). And like UltraPointer, it appears as a colored ring around the mouse cursor. (You can’t easily customize the indicator as you can with UltraPointer, but you can download and install alternate indicators from the Mouse Locator website.) However, where Mouse Locator shines as a cursor locator is that you can set it so that it only appears when your mouse cursor has been idle for a certain amount of time—since that’s when you’re most likely to be wondering where the cursor is. You can also choose how long it appears on the screen afterwards. For example, you can set your preferences so that if your cursor hasn’t moved in 10 seconds, the Mouse Locator indicator will appear as soon as you move the mouse, and then disappear five seconds later—helping you to locate the mouse cursor and then getting out of your way. (You can adjust both values to your taste, or you can have Mouse Locator display the indicator until you click the mouse button.) There’s also an option that indicates mouse clicks via a small yellow circle under the mouse, although I haven’t yet figured out when this feature might come in handy.

 

My verdict? I still prefer Mouseposé for presentations—as I mentioned in the original article, the way Mouseposé highlights an area of the screen makes it perfect for drawing your audience’s attention to the actions you’re performing with the mouse. On the other hand, if your challenge is finding a mouse cursor lost on today’s ever-larger displays, Mouse Locator is a better alternative, thanks to its automatic on/off features.

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