It’s a strange and random problem for many of us Mac users. We work as usual and then all of a sudden the Mac mouse cursor (pointer) disappears, and we’re stuck! To find it, we hunt all over our screen, clicking and wiggling all over the place to just get that darn pointer visible.
This particular problem occurs with no pattern, it just happens. We call it the “where’s my mouse?” syndrome. And it’s definitely something you don’t want to catch!
But we are not alone. Many fellow macOS and Mac OS X users encounter this issue too. And they find that their mouse cursor (or pointer) randomly disappears and then reappears with no apparent logic.
And this problem is especially annoying for folks whose work depends on the mouse cursor. The bottom line is that this issue makes it impossible to use our mouse or trackpad. So what to do?
- Quick Tips
- The Causes of Your Mouse Cursor’s Disappearing Act
- Find your Mac’s mouse cursor with Siri
- Ever lose track of your mouse pointer via Mission Control!
- How-To Fix Mouse Pointer Disappearing Problem
- 1-First make sure that there are no connections or interactive issues
- 2-Use Your System Preferences
- 3-When you cursor becomes invisible, switch your windows and press Command (⌘) and Tab
- 4-Visit Your Dock or Your Menu Bar
- 5-Try Your Trackpad or Touchpad
- 6-Reset NVRAM
- 7-Click and Drag
- 8-Right Click
- 9-Force Quit
- 10-Patience is a Virtue
- There’s An App For That!
- Launching Without a Cursor, No Mouse Required!
- How To Launch System Preferences Via the Keyboard
- Reader Tips
Try These Steps To Fix Your Disappearing Mouse Pointer
- For third-party mice and trackpads, check the manufacturer for a firmware update (drivers) compatible with macOS Catalina
- Change the mouse’s or trackpad’s on-screen pointer to a larger size
- Move down to the Dock, pause, and then move up to screen center
- Ask Siri for help in locating your mouse on-screen or increasing the cursor’s size to help you find it
- Switch your active window by pressing the Command (⌘) and Tab keys
- Create a new hotkey in Mission Control
- Check battery levels for wireless mice and trackpads
- Turn on the accessibility preference Shake Mouse Pointer to Locate
- Click and drag or right-click to make your mouse pointer visible
- Try a finger gesture on your trackpad
- Close and open the lid on your MacBook
- Force Quit open programs or restart your computer
- Reset NVRAM or PRAM
- Is your mouse or trackpad not working with your iPad or iPhone?
- MacBook or Magic Trackpad gets stuck in a clicked mode
- Spotlight Search Not Working on MacBook, How-To Fix
- How-To Configure Your Mac’s Trackpad
- How-To Add Magic Mouse Gestures
- What To Do When Your Mac’s Mouse or Trackpad Cursor Moves Randomly
The Causes of Your Mouse Cursor’s Disappearing Act
Mouse disappearing problems are usually caused by several different factors:
- Times when your Mac is running low on available memory
- Too many open browsers (Safari, Chrome, Firefox)or software tabs (Word, Photoshop, etc.)
- Using multiple monitors
- Watching YouTube videos (often hides mouse)
- Using multiple high-resolution displays (working with two screens or more)
- Third-party software conflicts also cause a disappearing cursor
- Notice when it occurs–are you having this problem only when you use third-party software such as Microsoft or Adobe?
If you get warning messages saying things like “your startup disk is full”? Check out this article for tips to address this problem
Find your Mac’s mouse cursor with Siri
Don’t forget that starting with macOS Sierra, Siri is available to help you through your digital lives. If you set up Siri on your Mac, use Siri to get your mouse cursor back! Hopefully, you set up a keyboard shortcut for accessing Siri, so launching her without your mouse or touchpad is easy.
The default shortcut for Siri is one of the following
- Hold Command (⌘)+Space
- Hold Option+Space
- Press Function (FN) +Space
There’s also an option for you to customize your own keyboard shortcut for Siri.
If Siri is enabled on your Mac, she can help you get your mouse cursor back. Just have her perform the steps listed below.
Check out our article on using Siri on macOS to see what she offers and how to get her working for you!
Ever lose track of your mouse pointer via Mission Control!
Reader Dan provides a great temporary fix that’s both quick AND easy—using just your Mac’s Mission Control.
Open Mission Control preferences and assign a new hotkey to bring up your dashboard as an OVERLAY. When you can’t find your cursor, just tap that hotkey twice, and your cursor returns!
On your Mac, change your Mission Control System Preferences for options and shortcuts by going to Apple menu > System Preferences > Mission Control.
To access your Mac’s Mission Control
- From a trackpad: swipe up with three fingers. To leave, swipe down
- From a keyboard: To enter or leave, press the Mission Control key, use the Control Strip, or press Control-Up Arrow
How-To Fix Mouse Pointer Disappearing Problem
Before you try any of the steps below, click somewhere else and see the cursor returns. If not, close all open apps and restart your Mac. See if your mouse cursor is back. If the cursor has not returned or you cannot close and restart your Mac, continue trying the solutions below.
1-First make sure that there are no connections or interactive issues
For instance, make sure that your mouse is turned on if you are using a wireless mouse. And check the battery level of your mouse. If you happen to use a mousepad, try a solid color rather than patterned or multicolor. The color or pattern differences sometimes confuse your mouse.
If you configured interactive corners (Mission Control’s Hot Corners) on your screen, try and move into an interactive corner when your mouse cursor disappears, often it reappears just by doing this simple step. It seems that flipping to a Hot Corner restores visibility to your mouse cursor.
Some readers report that even when they don’t have hot corners configured, opening up Mission Control appears to restore your missing mouse cursor.
2-Use Your System Preferences
- Go to System Preferences > Accessibility > Display > Cursor Size and change the cursor size
- Or go to System Preferences > Accessibility > Zoom > More Options button and check “Enable temporary zoom”. Simply hitting Ctrl+Option brings back the mouse cursor
- Another option is to allow Shake to Find. Go to System Preferences > Accessibility > Display > and turn Shake Mouse Pointer to Locate ON
3-When you cursor becomes invisible, switch your windows and press Command (⌘) and Tab
Go to another app then return to the app that you were using Command (⌘) and Tab Keys. This often works if this problem occurs because of a bug in the app. You’re basically switching back to your active app
4-Visit Your Dock or Your Menu Bar
When your mouse cursor goes invisible, just scroll blindly to below your screen dock (usually at the bottom of the screen.) Then scroll back up again. Your mouse cursor should reappear.
Alternatively, move your cursor all the way up to the menu bar, at the top of your screen. Once there, select a menu and click. Invoking a menu click often brings your cursor back.
5-Try Your Trackpad or Touchpad
If you have a trackpad, perform a three-finger swipe to the right on your Trackpad so that you get the Widgets screen. Wait 10-20 seconds and then do a three-finger swipe to the left to get back to the Finder and the cursor reappears!
Alternatively, try a four-finger swipe up and down on your Trackpad or Touchpad. A straightforward and fast solution!
Some readers also report success with a double click with two fingers on their Touchpads or Trackpads to get mouse cursors back.
- Turn off your Mac
- Press your power button to turn on your Mac and immediately after the startup sound, press and hold Command (⌘), Option, P, and R. Keep holding these keys until your computer restart again
7-Click and Drag
One solution is to click directly on your desktop and drag as if you were to be selecting a group then release. The mouse cursor usually reappears immediately after
Try a right-click on your mouse if it has it or a Control-Click for mice that don’t. For Trackpads, click two fingers at the same time. Many times, the cursor comes right back.
Press and hold Command (⌘)+Option+Escape and force quit from your open applications.
Often, you won’t need to force quit any applications. Sometimes just bringing up the force quit menu brings your cursor back
If nothing above works, try this. Just press Command–Control–Power button to force restart your computer.
10-Patience is a Virtue
A final suggestion is to just wait patiently for a few minutes. Usually, your mouse cursor comes back out of its hiding, right on its very own! Or if you find yourself frustrated, try closing your laptop or computer. Just walk away. Wait a few minutes, have a cup of tea and return. With some time, your mouse returns.
There’s An App For That!
Yup, of course, there’s an app for that too. Mac users experiencing the “where’s my mouse” problem often benefit from the installation of a simple app to assist. There’s quite a selection of mouse locating app out there so head to your mac’s app store, search for mouse locator, and find an app that fits your need and wallet.
These apps all have the same premise, helping you find your mouse quickly and simply when you cannot.
Launching Without a Cursor, No Mouse Required!
There are quite a few commands we can do so without our cursors. And when performing the steps above, you probably need some of these at hand. So let’s go through a quick list of how to use our Macs without a mouse, trackpad, or touchpad. Keyboard shortcuts are our friends in these situations. And with practice and muscle memory, you probably will find yourself using these even when the mouse, etc. is working! Keyboard shortcuts just make us more efficient Mac users.
Keyboard Shortcuts: The Basics
- Copy = Command (⌘)+C
- Cut = Command (⌘)+X
- Paste = Command (⌘)+V
- Undo = Command (⌘)+Z
- Redo = Command (⌘)+SHIFT+Z
- Select All = Command (⌘)+A
- Find = Command (⌘)+F
- New (Window or Document) = Command (⌘)+N
- Close (Window or Document) = Command (⌘)+W
- Save = Command (⌘)+S
- Print = Command (⌘)+P
Keyboard Shortcuts: Most Helpful
- Open = Command (⌘)+O
- Switch Application = Command (⌘)+Tab
- Swap Windows in current application = Command (⌘)+~
- Switch Tabs in current application = Control+Tab
- Minimize = Command (⌘)+M
- Quit = Command (⌘)+Q
- Force Quit = Option+Command (⌘)+Esc
- Spotlight = Command (⌘)+SPACEBAR
- Open Application Preferences = Command (⌘)+Comma
- Force Restart = Control+Command (⌘)+Power Button
- Quit All Apps and Shutdown = Control+Option+Command (⌘)+Power Button (or Media Eject )
How To Launch System Preferences Via the Keyboard
- Hit Command+Spacebar to bring up Spotlight and type “System Preferences.”
- Then press return and you’re good to go
Using Mac keyboard shortcuts allows you to do things that normally need a mouse, touchpad, trackpad, or another input device. So at times when your cursor disappears, knowing some of these shortcuts really saves the day (and your work.)
Check the menus of the applications you’re using to discover even more shortcuts. They are listed to the right of each menu item (when available.) Be aware that individual applications may have their shortcuts. So the shortcuts that work in one app may not work in another.
macOS and OS X also allow you to create keyboard shortcuts. One caveat is that you cannot create shortcuts for general actions, like opening or closing an app. To create your own shortcut, go to your Mac’s Apple menu > System Preferences, click Keyboard, then click Shortcuts.
- Quite a few folks report problems with their Bluetooth mice and macOS Catalina, specifically after upgrading to Catalina 10.15.1 their Bluetooth mouse keeps freezing or connecting and then disconnecting. Most users solved these issues by installing firmware updates (drivers for macOS Catalina) for the mice and trackpad. If you have already installed the latest firmware updates, unpair and pair the devices to your Mac again
- Go to System Preferences > Mouse > Set Up Bluetooth Mouse and uncheck Swipe between pages, Swipe between full-screen apps, and Mission Control. No more disappearing or missing mouse cursor again!
- One of our readers, James, pointed out that for him this particular problem occurs with only certain conditions:
- YouTube videos often try to hide your cursor. Pause the video and your cursor returns
- Citrix Receiver. Citrix Receiver is an emulated environment, and it thinks the mouse is within this environment, so it turns if OFF
- Parallels Desktop. When running Windows, the cursor may get trapped on the windows side hiding it from the Mac side
- James recommends using a mouse locator app to find where the mouse is, and he then can use it even if invisible. A Big Thanks to James for these excellent tips!
- A consistent albeit temporary fix I’ve found is to move the invisible mouse to the top left-hand corner and click once and the mouse reappears. It ALWAYS works for me!
Obsessed with tech since the early arrival of A/UX on Apple, Sudz (SK) is responsible for the original editorial direction of AppleToolBox. He is based out of Los Angeles, CA.
Sudz specializes in covering all things macOS, having reviewed dozens of OS X and macOS developments over the years.
In a former life, Sudz worked helping Fortune 100 companies with their technology and business transformation aspirations.