Why Does My Mouse Pointer Suddenly Disappear?

By Ken Burnside

Mouse cursors are an important usability tool, even as Windows computing moves into a touch-focused user interface paradigm with Windows 8. When you're using a mouse, trackpad or other pointing device, having the cursor vanish can be frustrating. There are a number of causes, ranging from Windows setting to hardware configuration. In rare situations, a video driver is the culprit.

The Cursor Changes Shape

Some programs, such as Microsoft Word, change the shape of the mouse cursor to a blinking vertical line with two small end-caps. This indicates where the mouse cursor is for text insertion, but it can make the cursor difficult to spot. In Word, you cannot change the shape of the insertion cursor. You can change settings in Windows to improve accessibility.

Windows Settings

Windows has a setting, available through the Control Panel, that will make the mouse cursor vanish while you're typing. If this describes the problem, pull up the Control Panel by pressing "Windows-I" and selecting it from the Charms window that comes up. Go to Hardware and Sound and then Mouse to pull up the "Mouse Options" dialog box. You can turn off the "Hide Pointer While Typing" option on the "Pointer Options" tab, or turn on "Display Pointer Trails" to make the mouse easier to see.

Multi-Monitor Setups

On Windows systems using more than one monitor, it is possible to lose your mouse icon by having it shift from one monitor to another. If you're using an external monitor and keyboard with a laptop, check to see that nothing is resting on the laptop's touchpad, mouse buttons or integrated pointing device; this can cause the mouse cursor to vanish due to conflicting inputs.

Video Driver Issues

If no other issue appears to be causing the problem, it may be that the mouse pointer is failing to show up due to a video driver issue. If adjusting the settings in Windows doesn't fix the problem, make sure that your video driver is current and updated.