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In computer
user interface In the industrial design Industrial design is a process of design A design is a plan or specification for the construction of an object or system or for the implementation of an activity or process, or the result of that plan or specificati ...
s, a cursor is an indicator used to show the current position for user interaction on a
computer monitor A computer monitor is an output device that displays information in pictorial or text form. A monitor usually comprises a electronic visual display, visual display, electronic circuit, some circuitry, a casing, and a power supply. The display de ...

computer monitor
or other
display device A display device is an output device An output device is any piece of computer hardware Computer hardware includes the physical parts of a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or ...
that will respond to input from a text input or
pointing device A pointing device is a human interface device that allows a User (computing)#End-user, user to input Three-dimensional space, spatial (i.e., continuous and multi-dimensional) data to a computer. Computer-aided design, CAD systems and graphi ...
. The mouse cursor is also called a pointer, owing to its resemblance in usage to a
pointing stick ] A pointing stick (or trackpoint, also referred to generically as a nub) is a small analog stick An analog stick (or analogue stick in British English), sometimes called a control stick or thumbstick, is an input device for a controller (oft ...
.


Etymology

''Cursor'' is Latin for 'runner'. A cursor is a name given to the transparent slide engraved with a hairline used to mark a point on a
slide rule The slide rule is a mechanical . The slide rule is used primarily for and and for functions such as , , s, and . They are not designed for addition or subtraction which was usually performed manually, with used to keep track of the magnitude ...

slide rule
. The term was then transferred to computers through analogy. On 14 November 1963, while attending a conference on computer graphics in
Reno, Nevada Reno ( ) is a city in the northwest section of the U.S. state of Nevada, along the Nevada-California border, about from Lake Tahoe, known as "The Biggest Little City in the World". Known for its casino and tourism industry, Reno is the county ...
,
Douglas Engelbart Douglas Carl Engelbart (January 30, 1925 â€“ July 2, 2013) was an engineer Engineers, as practitioners of engineering Engineering is the use of scientific method, scientific principles to design and build machines, structures, ...
of
Augmentation Research Center SRI International's Augmentation Research Center (ARC) was founded in the 1960s by electrical engineer Douglas Engelbart to develop and experiment with new tools and techniques for collaboration and information processing Information processing ...
(ARC) first expressed his thoughts to pursue his objective of developing both hardware and software computer technology to "augment" human intelligence by pondering how to adapt the underlying principles of the planimeter to inputting X- and Y-coordinate data, and envisioned something like the cursor of a computer mouse, mouse he initially called a "bug", which, in a "3-point" form, could have a "drop point and 2 orthogonal wheels". He wrote that the "bug" would be "easier" and "more natural" to use, and unlike a stylus, it would stay still when let go, which meant it would be "much better for coordination with the keyboard." According to Roger Bates, a young hardware designer at ARC under Bill English, the cursor on the screen was for some unknown reason also referred to as "CAT" at the time, which led to calling the new pointing device a "mouse" as well.


Text cursor

In most command-line interfaces or text editors, the text cursor, also known as a Caret navigation, caret, is an underscore, a solid rectangle, or a vertical line, which may be flashing or steady, indicating where text will be placed when entered (the insertion point). In text mode displays, it was not possible to show a vertical bar between characters to show where the new text would be inserted, so an underscore or block cursor was used instead. In situations where a block was used, the block was usually created by inverting the pixels of the character using the boolean math exclusive or function. On text editors and word processors of modern design on bitmapped displays, the vertical bar is typically used instead. In a typical text editor, text editing application, the cursor can be moved by pressing various keys. These include the four arrow keys, the Page Up and Page Down keys, the Home key, the End key, and various key combinations involving a modifier key such as the Control key. The position of the cursor also may be changed by moving the mouse pointer to a different location in the document and clicking. The blinking of the text cursor is usually temporarily suspended when it is being moved; otherwise, the cursor may change position when it is not visible, making its location difficult to follow. Some interfaces use an underscore or thin vertical bar to indicate that the user is in insert mode, a mode (user interface), mode where text will be insert key, inserted in the middle of the existing text, and a larger block to indicate that the user is in insert key, overtype mode, where inserted text will overwrite existing text. In this way, a block cursor may be seen as a piece of selected text one character wide, since typing will replace the text "in" the cursor with the new text.


Bi-directional text

A vertical line text cursor with a small left-pointing or right-pointing appendage is for indicating the direction of text flow on systems that support bi-directional text, and is thus usually known among programmers as a 'bidi cursor'. In some cases, the cursor may split into two parts, each indicating where left-to-right and right-to-left text would be inserted.


Pointer

In computing, a pointer or mouse cursor (as part of a personal computer WIMP (computing), WIMP style of interaction) is a symbol or graphical image on the
computer monitor A computer monitor is an output device that displays information in pictorial or text form. A monitor usually comprises a electronic visual display, visual display, electronic circuit, some circuitry, a casing, and a power supply. The display de ...

computer monitor
or other
display device A display device is an output device An output device is any piece of computer hardware Computer hardware includes the physical parts of a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or ...
that echoes movements of the
pointing device A pointing device is a human interface device that allows a User (computing)#End-user, user to input Three-dimensional space, spatial (i.e., continuous and multi-dimensional) data to a computer. Computer-aided design, CAD systems and graphi ...
, commonly a mouse (computing), mouse, touchpad, or digital pen, stylus pen. It signals the point where actions of the user take place. It can be used in Text-based user interface, text-based or graphical user interfaces to select and move other elements. It is distinct from the cursor, which responds to computer keyboard, keyboard input. The cursor may also be repositioned using the pointer. The pointer commonly appears as an angled arrow (angled because historically that improved appearance on low-resolution screens), but it can vary within different programs or operating systems. The use of a pointer is employed when the input method, or pointing device, is a device that can move fluidly across a screen and select or highlight objects on the screen. In GUIs where the input method relies on hard keys, such as the five-way key on many Mobile phone, mobile phones, there is no pointer employed, and instead, the GUI relies on a clear Focus (computing), focus state. The pointer or mouse cursor echoes movements of the
pointing device A pointing device is a human interface device that allows a User (computing)#End-user, user to input Three-dimensional space, spatial (i.e., continuous and multi-dimensional) data to a computer. Computer-aided design, CAD systems and graphi ...
, commonly a mouse (computing), mouse, touchpad or trackball. This kind of cursor is used to direct manipulation, manipulate elements of graphical user interfaces such as menus, Button (computing), buttons, scrollbars or any other Widget (GUI), widget. It may be called a "mouse pointer" because the mouse is the dominant type of pointing device used with desktop computers.


Appearance

The pointer ''hotspot'' is the active pixel of the pointer, used to target a Point and click, click or Drag and drop, drag. The hotspot is normally along the pointer edges or in its center, though it may reside at any location in the pointer. In many GUIs, moving the pointer around the screen may reveal other screen hotspots as the pointer changes shape depending on the circumstances. For example: * In-the text that the user can selection (user interface), select or edit, the pointer changes to a vertical bar with little cross-bars (or curved serif-like extensions) at the top and bottom — sometimes called an "I-beam" since it resembles the cross-section of the construction detail of the same name. * When displaying a document, the pointer can appear as a hand with all fingers extended allowing scrolling by "pushing" the displayed page around. * Graphics-editing pointers such as brushes, pencils, or paint buckets may display when the user edits an image. * On an edge or corner of a window (computing), window the pointer usually changes into a double arrow (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal) indicating that the user can drag the edge/corner in an indicated direction to adjust the size and shape of the window. * The corners and edges of the whole screen may also act as hotspots. According to Fitts's law, which predicts the time it takes to reach a target area, moving mouse and stylus pointers to those spots is easy and fast. As the pointer usually stops when reaching a screen edge, the size of those spots can be considered of virtual infinite size, so the hot corners and edges can be reached quickly by throwing the pointer toward the edges. * While a computer process is performing tasks and cannot accept user input, a wait pointer (an hourglass in Microsoft Windows, Windows before Windows Vista, Vista and many other systems, spinning ring in Windows Vista and later, watch in classic Mac OS, or spinning pinwheel in macOS) is displayed when the mouse pointer is in the corresponding window. * When the pointer hovers over a hyperlink, a mouseover event changes the pointer into a hand with an outstretched index finger. Often some informative text about the link may pop up in a tooltip, which disappears when the user moves the pointer away. The tooltips revealed in the box depending on the implementation of the web browser; many web browsers will display the "title" of the element, the "alt" attribute, or the non-web standard, standard "tooltips" attribute. This pointer shape was first used for hyperlinks in Apple Computer's HyperCard. * In Windows 7, when Windows Touch was introduced in the mainstream to make Windows more touch-friendly, a touch pointer is displayed instead of the mouse pointer. The touch pointer can be switched off in Control Panel and resembles a small diamond shape. When the screen is touched a blue ripple appears around the touch pointer to provide visual touch feedback. When swiping to scroll etc., the touch pointer would follow the finger as it moves. If touch and hold to right-click is enabled, touching and holding will show a thick white ring around the touch pointer. When this ring appears, releasing one's finger would perform a right-click. ** If a pen is used the left-click ripple is colorless instead of blue and the right-click ring is a thinner ring that appears closer to the pen tip making contact with the screen. A click (either left or right) will not show the touch pointer, but swiping would still show the pointer which would follow the pen tip. ** Also, the touch pointer would only appear on the desktop once a user has signed in to Windows 7. On the sign-in screen, the mouse cursor would simply jump to the point touched and a left click would be sent on a tap, similar to when a touch input is used on operating systems before Windows 7. * In Windows 8 and above, visual touch feedback displays a translucent circle where the finger makes contact with the screen, and a square when attempting to touch and hold to right-click. A swipe is shown by a translucent line of varying thickness. Feedback can be switched on and off in Pen and Touch settings of the Control Panel (Windows), Control Panel in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 or in the Settings (Windows), Settings app on Windows 10, and feedback can also be made darker and larger where it needs to be emphasized, such as when presenting. However, the touch pointer is normally less commonly visible in touchscreen environments of Windows operating systems later than Windows 7. * The mouse-over or hover gesture can also show a tooltip, which presents information about what the pointer is hovering over; the information is a description of what selecting an active element is for or what it will do. The tooltip appears only when stationary over the content. A common use of viewing the information is when browsing the internet to know the destination of a Hyperlink, link before selecting it, if the Uniform Resource Locator, URL of the text is not recognizable. ** When using touch or a pen with Windows, hovering when supported or performing a set gesture or flick may show the tooltip


I-beam pointer

The I-beam pointer (also called the I-cursor) is a cursor shaped like a serifed capital letter "I". The purpose of this cursor is to indicate that the text beneath the cursor can be highlighted and sometimes inserted or changed.ComputerHope.com
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Pointer trails and animation

can be used to enhance its visibility during movement. Pointer trails are a feature of GUI operating systems to enhance the visibility of the pointer. Although disabled by default, pointer trails have been an option in every version of Microsoft Windows since Windows 3.1x. When pointer trails are active and the mouse or stylus is moved, the system waits a moment before removing the pointer image from the old location on the screen. A copy of the pointer persists at every point that the pointer has visited at that moment, resulting in a snake-like trail of pointer icons that follow the actual pointer. When the user stops moving the mouse or removes the stylus from the screen, the trails disappear and the pointer returns to normal. Pointer trails have been provided as a feature mainly for users with Visual impairment, poor vision and for screens where low visibility may become an issue, such as Liquid-crystal display, LCD screens in bright sunlight. In Windows, pointer trails may be enabled in the Control Panel (Windows), Control Panel, usually under the Mouse (computing), Mouse applet. Introduced with Windows NT, an ''animated pointer'' was a small looping animation that was played at the location of the pointer. This is used, for example, to provide a visual cue that the computer is busy with a task. After their introduction, many animated pointers became available for download from third party suppliers. Unfortunately, animated pointers are not without their problems. In addition to imposing a small additional load on the CPU, the animated pointer routines did introduce a Vulnerability (computing), security vulnerability. A client-side exploit known as the ''Windows Animated Cursor Remote Code Execution Vulnerability'' used a buffer overflow vulnerability to load Malware, malicious code via the animated cursor load routine of Windows.


Editor

A pointer editor is software for creating and editing static or animated mouse pointers. Pointer editors usually support both static and animated mouse cursors, but there are exceptions. An animated cursor is a sequence of static cursors representing individual frames of an animation. A pointer editor should be able to: * Modify pixels of a static cursor or each frame in an animated cursor. * Set the ''hot spot'' of a static cursor or a frame of an animated cursor. The hot spot is a designated pixel that defines the clicking point. * Add or remove frames in an animated cursor and set their animation speed. Pointer editors are occasionally combined with icon editors because computer icons and cursors share similar properties. Both contain small raster images and the file format used to store icons and static cursors in Microsoft Windows is similar. Despite the similarities, pointer editors differ from icon editors in several ways. While icons contain multiple images with different sizes and color depths, static cursors (for Windows) only contain a single image. Pointer editors must provide the means to set the hot spot. Animated pointer editors additionally must be able to handle animations.


3D cursor

The idea of a cursor being used as a marker or insertion point for new data or transformations, such as rotation, can be extended to a 3D modeling environment. Blender (software), Blender, for instance, uses a 3D cursor to determine where future operations are to take place.


See also

* Susan Kare, designer of several of the common cursor shapes * Microangelo Toolset * Mouse Sonar * Screen hotspot * Throbber * Tooltip * Cursorial


References


External links


Creating and controlling browser cursors

Cross-browser CSS custom cursors



Windows Desktop Application Design Guidelines: Common Pointer Shapes

Apple Human Interface Guidelines: Pointers
{{DEFAULTSORT:Cursor (Computers) Graphical user interface elements User interfaces User interface techniques Virtual reality Human communication Human–machine interaction