Many people with limited vision find the text cursor difficult to find on the screen, and to track while it’s moving. The text cursor or ‘insertion point’ is the vertical line that indicates where a letter will appear when you start typing. It can be seen in documents and emails, as well on forms on the web, for example in the Google search box.
Microsoft Windows has for a long time allowed users to change the width and the blink rate. A greater width allows users to locate the pointer and track its movement. Slowing down the blink rate can help people who find it distracting or uncomfortable to look at.
Open up the Windows Control Panel by going to Start and selecting Control Panel from the menu. [Windows Key, Arrow Keys (to select Control Panel), Enter]
Double-click on the ‘Accessibility Options’ icon to launch the applet. [A (to select Accessibility Options), Enter]
Up pops the Accessibility Options window. Click on the Display tab at the top of the screen. [CTRL + TAB until Display is highlighted]
You can adjust the blink rate and width under the Cursor Options section. I have a separate tutorial that covers the High Contrast section.
The Blink rate slider allows you to alter the rate all the way from no longer (i.e. a solid bar) up to a fast flicker. The preview text cursor will give you an indication of how this will appear.
The text cursor width is, in theory, as very good way of making the text cursor more visually accessible and easier to find for everyone. It works well if you make a little thicker but if you make it very thick then the black box covers over characters on the right of the text you are reading. This can be particularly awkward when editing text.
Also I should note that these settings aren’t adhered to in all programs, some of which will ignore your options completely. However they are supported across most Microsoft programs including Word, Outlook and Internet Explorer.
One thought on “Adjusting the Windows Text Cursor’s Blink Rate and Width”
Is there any way to change the Windows word processor cursors to something more workable, like the old DOS cursors?
I am dissatisfied with the Windows style word processing cursor, a thin I-bar that is often hard to find, and when you do find it it covers one of the letters you might want to deal with. Having started word processing in DOS programs, I have happy memories of the old DOS cursor shape, which was a blinking underline, one character wide, for the critical character. In one program, if you changed from write-over to insertion mode, the cursor changed from a blinking underline to a blinkking character-sized block that alternately showed the character “reversed,” white on black.
It probably isn’t available as a fix, but you would think that after all these years Windows could have improved the standard cursor.