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My cursor on my Mac (running the latest version of El Capitan) has been freezing for a split second around every 10 seconds – it then reappears in the place it should've been if it hadn't disappeared.

I've tried using a different mouse – still occurs. And have done a PRAM reset.

Anyone have a clue of what could fix this?

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  • Are you using a wireless or Bluetooth mouse? – Allan Jul 10 '16 at 10:56
  • this has helped me discussions.apple.com/thread/… but be careful, it was also mentioned in wiki1e@ks – Artem Bernatskyi Oct 20 '18 at 22:36
  • I get it as well, whenever I have a second, USB-C monitor plugged in and switched on. 2019 MacBook Pro 16". The intermittent freezing happens with both a wired USB mouse as well as a bluetooth trackpad. – Johnny Jul 25 '20 at 20:54

16 Answers 16

8

I've had that happen to my own Mac and typically for me it was due to a high system load or something else locking the system (like a hard drive failing for example).

Here is a comprehensive list of things to try:

Try leaving Activity Monitor open and check if CPU usage remains consistently high while you are doing your usual tasks. If so, close all running Applications and check again. Also, with all your normal applications open check the Memory tab and see if Memory Used is close to or exceeding Physical Memory. If so, perhaps see if your Mac can have its Memory upgraded? Also, Go to the Disk tab and check Data written/sec: If you're looking at 50 MB/s or above and your Mac does not have an SSD then that's most likely the issue. You can also get this upgraded on most Macs.

You can also try loading your Mac into Safe Boot Mode to force the Mac to check and fix its startup volume from any issues it may have (https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT201262). Once you have done this and are in Safe Boot mode, reboot the Mac and try using it normally again, see if the issue is resolved.

Check your hard drive's health using a tool such as Drive Genius, disclaimer: I do not work for them but only recommend their tool as its quite easy to use and understand. If your hard drive's health isn't great then you should backup your data with Time Machine (https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT201250) and take your Mac to an Apple Store or Authorised Repairer for servicing so they can replace your hard drive.

Try creating yourself a new user account to test in, if you find the cursor is not skipping in the new account it may be an issue with your user account.

Once you have a good backup you can also try restoring your system to a clean state and re-test without your restoring your data on the Mac. If you find that the cursor isn't skipping then the issue may be due to an Application previously installed on your Mac or a corrupt system file. Try restoring just your user account using Migration Assistant once your Mac is in a clean state and you have confirmed the cursor issue is not present

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    Thank you for the detailed answer! Unfortunately, it looks like it may be a hard drive issue. After wiping the drive and installing a new copy of El Capitan, the problem still occurs. – Vincent Lee Jul 20 '16 at 0:31
  • The same occurs for me, also a hard drive issue! Thanks for the help! – Oliver Atkinson Jul 6 '18 at 21:40
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    @VincentLee How did you determine that the problem is a drive issue? I have the same intermittent freezing problem. I have run Disk Utility's First Aid but it shows no issues. – P A N Jul 24 '18 at 19:32
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    I have the same issue. It is driving me crazy. – Kees Briggs Apr 3 '19 at 19:58
63

I've had something like this issue (with the mouse freezing momentarily every few seconds), and it was related to my second screen. If I left this second screen turned off after waking the Mac from sleep (or from having the laptop lid closed), this issue happened every time

Also had an issue with it even when the screen was on; it usually cleared after I unplugged and replugged the second screen cable.

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    This was the issue for me (screen plugged in, but not in use), changing the screen input to the iMac fixed the glitches. – Olex Ponomarenko Jan 6 '18 at 8:07
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    @OlexPonomarenko does the same thing happen to you on High Sierra? I'll update in a blink if it's fixed. This issue is killing me on Sierra - I have two screens connected but if I don't use the second one I have to disconnect it physically every time - because if I don't the cursor freezes every few seconds or so :( Does High Sierra fix that for you? How did you change the screen input? – Wordpressor Apr 27 '18 at 21:23
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    @Wordpressor I do not know of a fix other than 1. you have to unplug the cable. 2. have the monitor show the imac output. – Olex Ponomarenko Jun 6 '18 at 19:07
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    This is the solution. Just happened on a MBP 2018 15in after it rebooted for a system upgrade. – pholz Sep 12 '18 at 15:12
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    Well, that was a lot easier than I anticipated. Thanks! – 3Dave Mar 17 '20 at 16:42
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My cursor was also freezing intermittently and it was also related to my multi-screen display. I unplugged my monitors and replugged them in and this solved the issue.

I use a Macbook Pro and 2 Dell Monitors.

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  • I don't have a multi-screen display. The screen still freezes. – Jake Berger Dec 12 '18 at 15:56
  • You need to be very specific about the symptoms. Freezing and "freezing intermittently" are very different. Also, you don't need multiple displays attached. For me it appears to be a processor issue. – ATL_DEV Apr 17 '20 at 22:18
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I had the same issue which drove me crazy. I checked everything about my Mac and external display, but in the end the problem had been found with an external USB-C hub connected to my mac. Unplugging it immediately solves the problem.

So my suggestion is before all of the software checks (in order to reduce possible troubleshooting time) try to unplug all physical extensions (monitors, mouses, BT devices, etc) and see how it behaves.

My tech stack is MacBook Pro (2019) on Catalina 10.15.2 with the (source of the problem) USB-C hub HyperDrive GN30B

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  • I also recently had this issue which originally I thought was related to the keyboard since the first time I noticed it was using the keyboard. At first a full reboot solved it but then it would reappear. The system would freeze totally for about a second every 5 or so seconds. I noticed it was coincidental with a hard drive that would drop connection. Eventually I did this debugging method(I focused on USB device connections) and it leads to a resolution at least that doesn't require a reboot. – Brian Lamb Mar 10 at 17:28
  • Fwiw for me the same USB-C hub works with a short cable (~18") but causes the hangs with two different longer cables (10ft and 15 ft). – Jelling Apr 3 at 19:32
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I had this difficulty with a brand new MacBook Pro (2018). I found the stuttering was connected to my use of a USB-C breakout box I had attached. Even if other accessories were not attached to the box, it caused a momentary stutter every ten seconds. After removing it, all was well

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  • same here, it was my USB-C hub – soupdiver Dec 9 '20 at 15:59
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Was happening with mine too. So I disconnected my second screen, and the problem ceased. Reconnected, and it's okay now.

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    I don't have a second screen. The problem still exists. – Jake Berger Dec 12 '18 at 15:56
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I've had this issue for quite some time and for the life of me couldn't have thought it was due to my second monitor. I used to connect my second monitor and I regularly switch it off if I feel I don't use it, but still leave it connected. Finally, I figured that as long as I keep the second monitor switched off, the mouse/trackpad used to freeze at frequent intervals. Switch the monitor on, and the problem is gone. Basically, didn't need to unplug and replug the monitor cable at all. Just switching the 2nd monitor on worked for me. Weird, I know.

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  • thanks! i've had exactly the same issue here. for the record, it was monitor connected via hdmi, as a second one (also there was mini-dp monitor connected). unplugging/plugging in solved it. I'm wondering if it's because i have DisplayLink driver installed – Jacek Kolasa Mar 6 '19 at 10:40
  • I'm using 2 external monitors on display-ports (using thunderbolt 3 to 2x DP adapter) Sometimes this freezing appears. It is very annoying and I could not find out why. Then I found out that all whats needed is to keep displays connected but turn them on/off and let the OSX connect them again. That fixes it. Sometimes when I'm using only one external display, I have to turn on and off the second one for this to disappear. It does not happen all the time, very rarely, but when it does, this helps. – 99electronic Nov 24 '20 at 7:34
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I have this problem every now and then after I started using a second display on a Mac Mini.

It ceases after I reseat both display cables on Mac Mini. I'm running macOS High Sierra 10.13.6.

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I had this problem too on my new MacBook Pro (2018) Mojave 10.14.3. As I use the Activity monitor, everything looks healthy - Memory, CPU, etc. The screen and mouse freezes every few seconds. Tried all the means to reset the NVRAM, etc. but it has no effect until I disconnect my Mazer USB-C Hub and everything becomes smooth.

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I could be peripheral. Remove them all and re-add them one at a time.

FWIW I had very similar issue with a Mac mini. Cursor freezing momentarily about every 4 seconds. It was "caused" by USB-C to USB 3 hubs. I had three; two of the same brand caused the issue, the third was fine. Exact cause unknown but in my case it appeared after a RAM upgrade with everything else working perfectly.

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Facing the same issue on Mac OS Catalina on (macbook pro 15', 2018) with a RedGear Manta USB gaming mouse. That split second pause of the mouse is driving me crazy.

Here are my observations:

  • Happens when no screen is connected.
  • Happens when a second screen is connected (Second screen tried in different refresh rates over HDMI - 60/120 Hz)
  • Further, I also use bootcamp (win 10) on the same mac - does not occur in windows at all - same hardware.
  • For the pause part - buttons and scroll wheel of the mouse are also down.

Here comes the fun part:

  • I use this software to use iPad as a second screen - Duet Display
  • Does not occur when I use an iPad as a second screen
  • Also does not occur when all three screens are connected (incl ipad) ...in any order
  • Not able to fool it: Disconnecting ipad immediately brings back the issue.

Wild hunches

  • If I look closely, sometimes when the mouse freezes and unfreezes, the scrollbar on the side of chrome gets a re-rendering.
  • It makes me believe that the mouse gets briefly disconnected from the OS.
  • Further, when the ipad is connected as a display over USB, macbook's fans are on.

Maybe there is a power issue - where the mouse is fluctuating b/w 100mA and 500mA. (Also, there is an ambience LED in my mouse which I cannot control in macOS).

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  • This doesn’t answer the question. – Allan Jun 3 '20 at 2:35
  • Yes, It does not. I just wanted to add more information in case someone can dive deeper. Further, connecting a third display over USB seems like a working nasty solution. – dsculptor Jun 3 '20 at 8:17
0

I had this problem too. My HP wireless mouse kept freezing. I looked it up. Followed all kinds of advice to no avail. Then yesterday I suddenly thought it might be the mouse batteries.So I changed them and hey presto, problem over. I think the batteries last for about 18 months usually.

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    OP never mentions that the mouse in question uses batteries. – IconDaemon Jul 3 '18 at 12:41
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    In my case it does not, even Macbook's touchpad freezes. – Wordpressor Nov 7 '18 at 12:13
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Issue I was having a pointer stutter every 10 seconds or so with MacBook Pro plugged into 2 monitors (1 direct to HDMI port & 1 with StarTech lightning to HDMI connector). Stutter occurred when using trackpad or magic touchpad.

Troubleshooting Unplugged HDMI port monitor - still stutters Unplugged StarTech adaptor - stutters gone Replugged HDMI port monitor - no stutters Tested with another StarTech adaptor - no stutters Replaced with original StarTech adaptor - stutters return

Fault isolated to faulty StarTech Lightning to HDMI adaptor.

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An issue with mouse flickering led me here.

In my case issue was with USB-c Secondary Screen (MSI Optix Mag321) with MBP2018

I connected screen over HDMI - no issue here, no flickering. Once I connected charging USB-c cable (max 15w) mouse start to flicker ~ 10seconds. Different charging cables did not bring any improvements.

I unplugged charging and Using only HDMI + USB hub (over standard USB cable) and I do not have any symptoms.

I am yet to try Thunderbolt cable (masked as USB-c).

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Good news! Apple fixed it in 10.15.6

I could not believe my eyes that after years of this issue being in the open - Apple has detected and fixed it. Verified with my mouse in various screen configurations - it works seamlessly now.

I wish there was an explanation for this mysterious bug.

10.15.6 it is

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  • Doesn't fix it for me: 10.15.6, MacBook Pro 16". I reliably get intermittent freezes when plugging in a second monitor via USB-C - to - USB-C. – Johnny Jul 25 '20 at 20:50
  • 10.15.6 update also did not fit it for me. My situation is using a usb-a dongle which I had plugged into a usb hub. Simply using a usb a extender cable did the trick, not sure why. So it goes macbook -> usb hub -> usb extender cable -> dongle. Worked instantly and permanently. Would leave a more detailed answer but I don't have the fake internet points to do so lol. – Matt Aug 23 '20 at 1:00
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I had this problem with a wireless logitech mouse M560 and using the usb connector to the CalDigit docking station.

When I used a satechi adapter for the usb plug it worked.

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