How to Customize Mouse Cursors/Pointers in Windows 7 & Windows 8

mouseHave you ever wanted to change your mouse pointers from the default scheme? Perhaps you want cursors that are larger or that are less of a strain on your eyes. If so, we have some good news: this article will show how to customize your mouse cursors in Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 to suit your own preferences. It will also show how to delete mouse pointer schemes you don't want to use anymore. Got you interested? Let's start!

Mouse Cursors in Windows

Windows uses ".ani" (animated cursor) and ".cur" (cursor) files for the mouse pointers. Cursors are usually around 1-5KB each, while animated cursors can be as large as 76KB.

The default folder where Windows stores these files is "C:\Windows\Cursors". If you download a new mouse pointer scheme, it is best to extract it in the same folder and have it get its own sub-folder under "C:\Windows\Cursors".

The procedure for changing the mouse cursor is much the same in Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. I'll illustrate most of the article with screenshots from with Windows 8.

Let's Get Started - How to Access the Mouse Properties Window

Start by typing personalize into the Start Menu search box (Windows 7) or the Start screen (Windows 8 & Windows 8.1).

In Windows 7, click the "Personalize your computer" search result, to open the Personalization window.

Mouse, Pointer, Cursors, Change, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

In Windows 8, select Settings and then choose "Personalize your computer".

Mouse, Pointer, Cursors, Change, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

In Windows 8.1 there is no need to filter the search results. Click or tap "Personalize your computer" when the results are displayed by the Search charm, on the right.

Mouse, Pointer, Cursors, Change, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

In the Personalization window, on the left side, you'll see an option for "Change mouse pointers". Click or tap on that to open the Mouse Properties window.

Mouse, Pointer, Cursors, Change, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

NOTE: If you have the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center installed, its tab will turn up first, and you'll need to click or tap the Pointers tab.
You'll see some familiar shapes in the list of Windows default pointers.

Mouse, Pointer, Cursors, Change, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

Click on the drop-down menu to see the other pointer sets built into Windows.

Mouse, Pointer, Cursors, Change, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

This is the set available in Windows 8 and 8.1. The Windows 7 set is different, because Windows 7 has Aero options that Windows 8 does not--but wait and see what you can do if you really want the Aero shapes in Windows 8.

Mouse, Pointer, Cursors, Change, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

In either system, once you've chosen one of the pre-installed mouse schemes, you'll be shown a display of the various cursor shapes that come with that set. This will help you scroll through the possibilities and pick what you want.

How to Change the Mouse Pointer Scheme in Windows

Choose one of the pre-installed mouse schemes from the drop-down list. Here, for example, I've chosen the Windows Black (extra large) system scheme.

Mouse, Pointer, Cursors, Change, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

As you can see, the shapes and sizes of the cursors have changed. This makes them more visible. You can also choose to have a "shadow" under the cursor if you want, by clicking or tapping the box marked "Enable pointer shadow". This is worth experimenting with to see if you like the effect.
Once you've found a scheme you like, click Apply or OK.

How to Customize Individual Mouse Pointers in Windows

But what if you don't like every shape and size supplied with the scheme? Select a pointer that you'd like to change and click or tap Browse. This will open up the folder in which the cursor images are stored, and you can scroll through the thumbnails to choose one you like better.

Mouse, Pointer, Cursors, Change, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

As you can see, the Aero shapes are actually available in Windows 8. They're just not listed as a separate Aero theme. Here I've chosen the familiar round "busy" cursor shape, in large size to go along with the other cursors in the set.

Mouse, Pointer, Cursors, Change, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

You can go through all the schemes and select whatever shapes you want. If you should change your mind about any of those shapes, just click on Use Default and you'll go back to the original set (but of course that means any other changes you made will go back to the defaults as well).
IMPORTANT: Once you've changed the cursors to your liking, Windows will treat your changes as an entirely new theme. Be sure to save this theme so you can choose it again. Click or tap the Save As button and give your theme a descriptive name.

Mouse, Pointer, Cursors, Change, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

In Windows 7, you have the choice of allowing themes to change your mouse pointers. If you choose to do this, then if you install a new theme that has its own set of cursors, those will supersede the ones you've chosen. If you want to keep the same set regardless, be sure not to check that box.

Mouse, Pointer, Cursors, Change, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

How to Delete a Mouse Pointer Scheme in Windows

You can't delete Windows' built-in schemes (as you see, the Delete button is greyed out) but once you have made changes to a theme and saved it, the Delete button will be active. If you want to get rid of your theme, just click or tap that button.

Mouse, Pointer, Cursors, Change, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1

Then, confirm the deletion process.

Where to Find Mouse Cursors on the Internet

There are many places on the Internet where you can find different mouse cursors. For example, if you are left-handed, Microsoft offers left-handed Aero cursors that you can download and install. DeviantArt also has a good collection of pointers. Last but not least, we also published a great article on the subject: Top 10 Best Mouse Cursor Schemes for Windows.

Is that All There Is?

It used to be that there were plenty of custom mouse-cursor themes available for free on the internet. Times have changed. Now a lot of the custom themes cost money, and the free ones are little more than havens for malware. You'll have to decide whether you want to pay for a specialized theme. A Google or Bing search on custom mouse pointers and and your operating system will turn up plenty of options.

Have you made changes to your mouse pointer? Have you found good paid or free schemes? Please share your experiences in the comments.