Cursor Definition & Meaning

A cursor is a special symbol, usually a solid rectangle or a blinking underline character, that signifies where the next character will be displayed on the screen. To type in different areas of the screen, you need to move the cursor. You can do this with the arrow keys, or with a mouse if your program supports it.

If you are running a graphics-based program, the cursor may appear as a small arrow, called a pointer. (The terms cursor and pointer are often used interchangeably.) In text processing, a cursor sometimes appears as an I-beam pointer, a special type of pointer that always appears between two characters.

Note also that programs that support a mouse may use two cursors: a text cursor, which indicates where characters from the keyboard will be entered, and a mouse cursor for selecting items with the mouse.

Cursor Examples
Image: Examples of graphical cursors.

Other Uses of the Word

  • A device, similar in appearance to a mouse, that is used to sketch lines on a digitizing tablet. Cursors for digitizing tablets are sometimes called pucks.
  • In some database languages, short for current set of records,the currently selected set of records.

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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