Whether you are doing graphics/web design work or just taking screenshots, it’s often very difficult to move the mouse precisely enough to select pixels the way you’d like. Here’s a couple of ways to make it better.
There’s a number of methods you can use, from configuring the default mouse settings, to enabling Mouse Keys to move the mouse pointer with the keyboard, or my favorite: Using the Precision Booster feature in IntelliPoint.
Image by Rufus
Slow Down the Mouse Pointer System-Wide
If the mouse moves too fast for you, you can always slow down the mouse pointer by opening the Mouse Properties window in Control Panel (either type Mouse into the search box or look in the Hardware section).
On the Pointer Options tab you should see the “Enhance pointer precision”, which should be turned on if it isn’t.
You can change the mouse pointer to move slower by just dragging the slider.
Use the Keyboard to Move the Mouse in Windows 7 or Vista
One of the accessibility features in Windows is called “Mouse Keys”, and it will let you control the mouse movement with the number pad on the keyboard. By doing so, you can move the mouse pointer a single pixel at a time if you want… it doesn’t get any more precise than that.
Open up Control Panel and then click on Ease of Access…
Then click on “Change how your mouse works”
Then click on “Set up Mouse Keys”
Now you can configure the Mouse Keys to your liking, the most important setting being to “Turn on Mouse Keys”. Once you’ve turned on the option, you can toggle Mouse Keys on and off with Alt+Shift+Num Lock (using the left alt/shift).
Once it’s been activated, you can use the arrows on the number pad to move the mouse. Sadly there’s no good way to take a screenshot of the mouse moving a single pixel at a time.
Use the Keyboard to Move the Mouse in XP
This works very similarly to the setting in Vista, it’s just found in a different place. Go into Control Panel \ Accessibility and then click on Accessibility Options, and then on the Mouse tab you can find the checkbox to enable MouseKeys as well as the Settings button.
You can set pretty much the same options, with the same shortcut key.
Using Intellipoint’s Precision Booster
If you have a Microsoft mouse, you can download and install Microsoft’s IntelliPoint software that gives you a lot of extra features, including one somewhat hidden feature: Precision Booster, which can slow down the mouse by assigning it to a mouse button.
Open up the Mouse properties through Control Panel (easiest method is to just type Mouse into the start menu search box). Once there, you can use the Buttons tab, and assign the feature to one of the buttons as shown:
When you select the Precision Booster item from the list, you’ll get this dialog to configure how you want the feature to work. I chose to make the mouse really slow, and to use the button as a Toggle instead of having to hold the button down.
If you only want to use the Precision Booster in a single application, check the box for “Enable program-specific settings” and then click on the Settings button.
You can add an application to the list by clicking the Add button and finding the executable on your hard drive, then you can customize the settings for that particular application.
This way I can continue to use the small thumb button for Forward in my browser, but use Precision Booster while I’m using Photoshop.