If you're sick of the same old cursor hanging around your screen, it's easier to change than you think. Whether you want to get rid of that annoying animation or color-coordinate your mouse with the rest of your desktop, changing your mouse cursor in Windows is easy. You can use alternative cursors that come with Windows, free cursors made by online artists, or become an artist yourself and design.
To get started, click "Start," then "Control Panel," then "Mouse." This will bring up the Mouse Properties window, which lets you pick from pre-installed cursors. If you don't like any of the included cursors, you can browse for more by, intuitively enough, clicking "Browse." You'll need some cursors to point Windows to, though. You have two options: making your own or finding one online.
Finding Cursors Online
Custom mouse cursors are all over the Internet. These files usually have a ".cur" extension, but are identical in format to icon files. One of the best places to find mouse cursors (and most things customization-related) is Deviant Art, a site dedicated to hosting people's artwork including mouse cursors. Check out the Resources section for a link to the site's cursors, which can be previewed, downloaded and tried out. Move the cursor files to somewhere out of the way after you download them; it's a good idea to have a folder just for your custom cursors in your Documents folder.
Making Your Own Cursors
If you can't find a cursor you like, make your own. This is simple to do using software like The Gimp (see Resources), an open-source graphics editor you can download and use for free.
When designing an icon, it's a good idea to stick to a resolution around 32 by 32 pixels. After you've drawn your new mouse, or pasted the picture you want to be your new mouse cursor, save the file as an icon file. After you save the file, rename it so that ".cur" is the extension. You can now open this file using the Mouse Properties window, as explained above.