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How to Boost Your Mouse Pointing Accuracy in Windows

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.

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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…

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Then click on “Change how your mouse works”

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Then click on “Set up Mouse Keys”

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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).

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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.

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You can set pretty much the same options, with the same shortcut key.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/22/10

Comments (17)

  1. trevor

    That’s what I love about my Logitech G5 laser mouse, has 3 buttons right below the scroll wheel that you can assign different sensitivities to for quick switching

  2. Daniel Spiewak

    The “Enhance Pointer Precision” option is probably the best mouse option ever available on *any* platform. Any time I use Mac or Linux I miss it terribly. Basically what this does is increase mouse speed when you move the mouse faster, while decreasing it at lower speeds. Thus, you can get incredibly fine-grained movement when you need it, without “mouse pumping” to move greater distances.

  3. LeeHill

    A site such as yours is super helpful to novices such as myself, thank you.

  4. Spacegold

    Very good explanation, Geek. It was set by default on my computer, but if I want to change anything, I now know where to look. I want to thank you for a writing style that employs English in lieu of geekanese. I can understand most of what you explain.

  5. Tom

    Does this feature affect game play at all such as Call of Duty? Or is it only on operating systems?

  6. lilla

    how I find option “move to” and “send to” in win7 (like in win xp)..? please/nead help!!!

  7. Bear Seven

    @lilla:
    Run Windows Explorer. Press [Alt] to show menubar if it’s hidden. Then select [Edit] > [Copy to folder] or [Move to folder].
    If you want the menubar always shown, press [Alt], select [Tools] > [Folder options]. Go to [View] tab and check the [Always show menus] option.

  8. Danny

    I always recommend turning off the ‘enhance pointer precision’ option.
    Because it is dynamic and adjusts sensitivity with how fast the mouse is moving, it’s inconsistent and difficult to get accurate with.
    With it off, you know that moving your mouse so far, regardless of how fast, will always leave the cursor the same distance from where it started. With a little time, and setting the sensitivity to something that suits you, you’ll be fast and accurate with your mouse whether you want to move a few pixels or across the screen.

    Since I saw someone ask, yes this has an effect of first person shooter games. You will be BETTER at the game with the option OFF.

  9. PeaceSold13r

    @Danny I don’t agree with you. I think that the utility of the “enhance pointer precision” feature is case-sensitive, and so the effects it can have in FPS.
    For example, I’ve always used it, it’s one of the first things I do after a format, and I use my mouse to play but also for precision works like Photoshop or Autocad. I’m not saying I’m one of the best players in the world, but I think that if I would disable that option the visual responses of my pointer (or of my gun) will not meet my attitudes anymore. So, imo, it’s just a question of habits, not of BETTER and WORSE.

  10. MJ

    I always set mouse speed faster, about 75% of the slider. I get anywhere faster and I don’t perceive any lack of precision.

  11. Camilo Martin

    For the really geeky: there’s a registry entry (I don’t remember where) that contains a matrix that defines the acceleration of the mouse.

  12. Jr.

    I can see that my mouse moves two by two pixels, it make me crazy, Why doesn’t 1 to 1?
    Maybe Camilo’s tweak is a good stuff.
    This tweak above is really really stupid.

  13. Gayle

    Is there a way to make the mouse pointer larger so I can follow (see) it better?

  14. trash

    this is just stupid guide..

    All these software based tweaks of precision obviously just make the cursor respond worse to the actual movement sent by the sensor of your mouse

    fail guide is fail

  15. NIC

    it helped in a way.

  16. Luke

    This is how I see it, When you are playing FPS with your mouse you will want to leave this option OFF, when you are using the mousepointer to click static targets like when you are browsing it’s more of a preference question.
    When you have it on you enable mouse acceleration which is really bad for FPS gaming, it’s not a preference thing, when you are trying to hit moving targets the easiest way to aim for something is when the distance the mouse has to travel on its surface is always the same for a certain distance of crosshair or mousepointer travel on screen.

  17. mmm

    Luke, that’s what is best for you. That does not work on everyone. It really is about preference AND which mouse you have AND about the way how you are holding the mouse. Different mouse react differently to windows default config. I have been using this booster for fps sometimes. Even not all FPS are not the same. Do not generalize like that.

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