Mac OS X: Common Pointer Icons and What They Mean

Learn about common pointer (cursor) icons that you see in Mac OS X.
This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

Mac OS X
10.1 and earlier
Mac OS X
10.2 and later
Arrow pointer
When you see this icon, you can move, copy, select, or drag items.
Progress indicator
The progress indicator appears when an application needs some time to finish a task. In Mac OS X 10.2 or later, this pointer appears in applications that need you to wait. If this pointer appears a long period of time, the application may have stopped responding or "crashed."
Watch cursor
The watch cursor may appear instead of the progress indicator in some stand by situations, such as with a Classic application.
Progress indicator
Some applications use this alternate spinning cursor.
Link pointer
The link pointer appears in Mac OS X applications when you move the pointer over a hypertext link, such as
The I-beam, or insertion point, appears when you can edit, type, or select (highlight) text in a particular area.
Alias pointer
The alias pointer means you are making an alias of the selected item. This happens if you press Option-Command while dragging an item.
Copy pointer
The copy pointer means you are copying or duplicating the selected item without moving the original. In the Finder, this pointer appears when you drag an item to a different volume, or to the same volume while pressing the Option key.
Shortcut menu pointer
This pointer means that you can click the mouse button to see a shortcut, or contextual, menu. You can hold the Control key on your keyboard and click the mouse button to see these menus when they are available.
n/a Prohibitory pointer
This pointer means you can't do the action you're trying to do, such as attempting to move a file to a location where you don't have permission make changes.
Resize pointer
Variations of this cursor appear when you can resize something, such as a window column in the Finder, or a sidebar in iTunes.
Screen capture pointer
To take a screen shot of a selection of the screen, press Command-Shift-4.
Screen capture pointer
To take a screen shot of a particular window, press Command-Shift-4, release those keys, then press the Space bar.

Published Date: Feb 17, 2012