The Mouse Control Panel in Windows controls the look of your mouse cursors, including special cursors such as the spinning "busy" cursor and the text entry cursor. Windows includes several sets of alternate cursors, or for even more options, use CUR or ANI files found on the Internet -- no need to install any extra software.
Search for and select Mouse on the Windows 8.1 Start screen or Windows 7 Start menu to open the Mouse Control Panel.
Switch to the Pointers tab and pick a cursor set from the Scheme menu. Windows includes several variations on its regular cursors, including options for larger cursors, black cursors and cursors with inverted colors.
The (None) option reverts to the simple black and white cursors from pre-XP versions of Windows.
Select a specific cursor, such as Text Select for the vertical bar used in Word and Notepad, and click Browse to change the cursor.
Pick a new cursor in the Browse window. When you first press Browse, the list shows every cursor that comes with Windows. You can also select cursor files from anywhere on your computer, including cursors you download from the Internet or draw yourself. Static cursor files use the CUR extension, while animated cursors use ANI.
Repeat these two steps to apply a different cursor to each of the cursor types you want to change.
Click Save As to save your changes as a new scheme. Saving isn't necessary, but by saving your custom scheme, you can quickly switch between it and other schemes.
Finish by clicking OK to close the Control Panel and apply the new cursors.
The "Use Default" button switches a cursor to its appearance in the "(None)" scheme, rather than its default for the selected scheme as you might expect. To revert to a scheme's defaults, reselect the scheme from the menu.
If you're losing track of your cursor, turn on "Show Location of Pointer When I Press the Ctrl Key" on the Pointer Options tab. Whenever you press "Ctrl" on its own, Windows indicates your cursor's position.
Some programs and browser plugins that offer new cursors are a source of malware. Rather than downloading new programs, look for sites that offer ordinary cursor files -- CUR and ANI files -- and apply them in the Mouse Control Panel. See the the Resources section for a few such sites that offer free, safe, Windows-compatible cursors.
Some games and other programs include their own custom cursors, which you can't change in the Control Panel. Usually, you can't alter these custom cursors at all, but check the program's own settings to look for an option to use the default Windows cursors instead.