After upgrading my late 2012 Mac Mini from Yosemite to Sierra I notice a weird occurrence - briefly when moving the mouse it suddenly jumps to about 10x the normal size for just a tiny moment.

A timed screen capture from Skitch shows this happening:

big mouse pointer in macOS

What on earth could be causing this?

  • 3
    @Freiheit You know there's a cursor size option in System Preferences, you could have faked the screenshot just by increasing the size manually first :) (see the screenshot in my answer, it's located right above the mentioned option about shaking the mouse)
    – grg
    Jan 19 '18 at 21:23
  • 6
    I did not know that. My coworkers who leave workstations unlocked will soon learn this also.
    – Freiheit
    Jan 19 '18 at 21:28
  • 3
    It's not a bug, it's a feature! Jan 20 '18 at 23:02

El Capitan introduces a feature for finding a mouse cursor you've lost. Shake the mouse around and the cursor will increase in size whilst you're shaking so you can find it.

Here's the moment it was introduced in the Apple Keynote at WWDC 2015:

Keynote moment

You can disable this feature in System Preferences → Accessibility → Display.

Shake mouse pointer to locate
Quickly move the mouse pointer back and forth to make it bigger.

Shake mouse pointer to locate

  • 15
    I think this feature should be easier to activate. it's really difficult to actually make the cursor large Jan 19 '18 at 14:26
  • 1
    +theonlygusti Well apparently for this guy it happens by accident. I don't want this happening all the time randomly, so I think it's fine that it takes a second or two of shaking in order to activate it.
    – scornwell
    Jan 19 '18 at 16:22
  • 26
    @Stewart "now"?! That's a feature of Windows 95!
    – grg
    Jan 19 '18 at 17:57
  • 1
    Huh, I have no idea how I'm triggering this accidentally. I must have shaky hands!
    – Mr. Boy
    Jan 19 '18 at 21:25
  • 3
    @Mr.Boy It's possible there's an issue with the sensor in your mouse where it's inputting this kind of shake very rapidly and briefly; like @​theonlygusti said I have difficulty activating this when I want to!
    – grg
    Jan 19 '18 at 21:26

If you were eating something sticky, got some stickiness on your fingers, and now there is some stickiness on your laptop trackpad, then that can set off the sensor. As the warmth of whatever the substance is cools, the mouse sensor can register it as a shaky finger.

I know this because.... a friend told me

  • 2
    I must now perform several empirical data gathering experiments over several days involving sticky buns and capacitive touch devices.... for science.
    – bmike
    Feb 2 '20 at 18:01

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