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How to Diagnose the “Phantom Cursor” Issue on Your Mac

How to Diagnose the “Phantom Cursor” Issue on Your Mac

I converted to the cult of Mac about 3 years ago. I’d used Macs a bit in elementary school, and then again during college in our school’s computer lab, but it wasn’t until after I graduated that I bought my first MacBook. 3+ years later and it’s still going strong; I’ve never had a single issue with it.

Well, okay, just the one issue. For a while a few months back, my Mac was possessed.

Okay, not like “possessed by a ghost” possessed, but something strange was definitely going on. I’d just be typing, and all of a sudden, the cursor would jump to a random location on the page and all my text would move to that portion of the document. Sections of my text documents would get highlighted, and then get completely erased the next time I made a keystroke. It was AWFUL. My productivity plummeted because I couldn’t write even half a blog post without it all going to pieces.

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My ensuing struggle with my Mac to solve the mystery of the phantom cursor took about a week of searching Mac user forums, inventive troubleshooting, and asking my friends who used Macs if they had ever encountered something similar.

If you’ve got the dreaded “phantom cursor” haunting your Mac (and you’re running a version of OSX 10), here’s a rundown of the major causes of this issue to help you diagnose what is causing your cursor malfunction.

Common Cause #1: You Need to Adjust Your Trackpad Settings

For some Mac laptops, the problem is related to your trackpad settings. To figure out if your cursor issues are caused by your settings, go into System Preferences. Select Trackpad, and then de-select the box for Trackpad Gestures and check “Ignore accidental trackpad input”. By effectively making your trackpad less sensitive to your input, you may eliminate the cause of your cursor issues.

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Another possible way to resolve the phantom cursor issue on a Mac laptop is to attach a USB mouse and use that in lieu of your trackpad. If a faulty trackpad is the cause of your cursor bouncing around the screen, using a mouse instead can circumvent the fault. Just make sure to go into System Preferences after plugging in the mouse and select “Ignore Trackpad When Mouse is Present” under Trackpad Settings.

Common Cause #2: You Need to Reset Your PRAM

The parameter RAM (PRAM) is where a Mac stores basic information (such as the time) so that you do not need to re-enter it every time you start up the computer. Resetting the PRAM is sort of like a smarter way of trying to fix a tech problem by turning the machine off and on again. Not particularly elegant, but it can often get the job done.

First, shut down your computer. Then, unplug it, remove the battery, and then hold down the power button for a count of ten. Replace the battery re-attach the power cord. Turn the computer back on and immediately hold down the following keys: Option, Command, P, R.

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Keeping holding these keys down, and you will hear a soft chime. Keep holding those four keys down until your computer chimes for the second time, then release them. The reset is then complete, and you are ready to try writing again and see if the phantom cursor program still persists.

    Common Cause #3: You’ve Got Malware

    If you have malware, viruses, or spyware infecting your computer, they can sometimes cause cursor malfunction. As we all know, Macs are generally less likely to get these sorts of problems than PCs, but it can still happen. Use a free trial of a program like MacScan to check your hard drive for anything nasty. If the program finds anything, it can isolate and delete it safely.

    Common Cause #4: Trackpad Damage/Misalignment

    In my case, this was the source of all my phantom cursor woes. Over time, (and partially due to playing too many video games that caused me to do vigorous clicking) my trackpad had gotten slightly depressed, sending it out of alignment and causing my computer to read it as constantly being clicked on.

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    In the case of my MacBook, my Mac-savvy roommate saved the day. He removed the battery from my laptop’s case, and used gentle pressure with his fingers to nudge the battery housing very slightly just underneath the trackpad. This slight pressure was just enough to pop the trackpad up a few millimeters into its correct position.

    What about you guys? Have you ever had a “phantom cursor” problem? And if so, how did you solve it? Tell us in the comments section below!

    More by this author

    Tucker Cummings

    Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

    The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It? The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity? How to Diagnose the “Phantom Cursor” Issue on Your Mac Extreme Minimalism: Andrew Hyde and the 15-Item Lifestyle 6 Easy Tips for Living with 100 Items or Less

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    Last Updated on October 16, 2019

    11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

    11 Meeting Scheduler Apps to Boost Your Productivity

    Automations are key to improving efficiency. Set the system up right from the beginning and you’ll reduce the amount of no-shows and cancellations.

    Whatever your business is, with automations, meeting scheduler apps do more than just streamline appointment setting. They prime your workflow for maximum results.

    Meeting scheduler apps are awesome if you use them right. Use them wrong and you can look like an arrogant elitist.

    In this article, I will share with you 11 great meeting scheduler apps you can start using today to boost your productivity.

    1. ScheduleOnce

      ScheduleOnce is an industry leader and robust solution. Whether you work alone or have a large team, ScheduleOnce can support you.

      ScheduleOnce allows you to create multiple users and multiple calendars. I use one calendar for booking podcast guests with automations set up to prep my guests for our interview. I use another calendar for strategy sessions and coaching calls.

      ScheduleOnce also has embeddable widgets so you can keep the scheduler inside your own website.

      Starting at $7 a month and a 14 day free trial, ScheduleOnce can fit a variety of needs in business.

      Available on Web

      2. Calendly

        Calendly stands out for its clean, easy to use interface. If you like clean design, Calendly might be your choice. It too has robust automations and integrations for individuals and teams alike.

        You can try Calendly free for 14 days. Their basic plan is free while their most robust plan is only $12 a month.

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        Available on Web | Google Chrome Extension

        3. Assistant.to

          For those who use gmail, Assistant.to is a super simple solution.

          From inside an email, you click on the Assistant.to icon and pick times your free. Assistant.to embeds the times directly into the email so the recipient can quickly pick a time that works for them.

          While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of apps like Calendly or ScheduleOnce, Assistant.to is completely free.

          Available on Web

          4. Acuityscheduling

            Acuity is a robust meeting scheduler very similar to ScheduleOnce. It integrates with CRMs, Email Marketing platforms, Analytics tools and accounting software.

            It comes with a 14 day free trial. They have a free solo account but if you want the benefit of the integrations, you’ll start as low as $15 a month and can cost up to $50 a month.

            Available on Web | iOS | Android

            5. Pick

              Built for simplicity, Pick is direct and easy to use. You can create your own url extension like pick.co/yournamehere and it integrates with Google calendar and Office 365.

              At $3 a month, this is a great tool for quick scheduling.

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              Available on Web

              6. X.ai

                For those who are early adopters of AI, this may be the solution for you. X.ai created two AI assistants they call Amy and Andrew Ingram. After setting up your account you simply CC them on your emails with the person you’re wanting to schedule and the AI assistants will email your guests from there until your appointment is set.

                This type of scheduler feels more personal because of the dialogue. There are stories on their site of people thinking Amy and Andrew are real people. X.ai integrates with Google, Office 365 and Outlook.

                Starting at $29 a month for an Individual account and $39 a month per user for a Team account, Amy and Andrew are ready to schedule meetings for you. Want to try it out first? They do have a free trial.

                Available on Web

                7. YouCanBook.me

                  is another competitive solution for scheduling meetings online. You can manage the calendars of your entire team, configure booking forms, and integrate with your calendar.

                  They have a free account branded with their company name or you can have some control over your branding and appearance at $10 a month for all their features. Either way, this company is worth a look.

                  Available on Web

                  8. Doodle

                    Doodle is unique in the space of meeting schedulers because it helps groups of people find a time to meet that works for everyone.

                    It integrates with your calendar and allows you to send a poll to all invited. Once people vote on the poll you can see which time works best for everyone.

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                    You can also run polls for food preferences if you’re scheduling a lunch meeting or a section of town if people are coming from all over.

                    While there is a free account, you’ll unlock it’s potential starting at $39 per year.

                    Available on Web | iOS | Android

                    9. WhenAvailable

                      WhenAvailable is another scheduler that works for groups of people. You can use it to schedule a pickup game of basketball, decide on your next book club or book your family reunion.

                      Their free account allows up to 20 guests, unlimited events and one contact group. For $15 a year you unlock all the goodies including reminders and chat messages.

                      Available on Web

                      10. Rally

                        Like Doodle and WhenAvailable, Rallly is helpful for scheduling meetings and events with multiple people involved. You create a poll and everyone votes. It’s quick and easy.

                        Unlike Doodle, it doesn’t have as many features, but it’s entirely free.

                        Available on Web

                        11. NeedtoMeet

                          Finishing strong, NeedtoMeet is our last app that allows you to schedule meetings or events for multiple people. It has mobile apps, custom urls, easy polling, notifications and commenting.

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                          NeedtoMeet also allows 1:1 Meetings for things like performance reviews for your whole team. You send out the your calendar slots to your team and they can only pick 1 slot, minimizing the amount of emails and scheduling you have to coordinate.

                          While they have a free account, you can unlock all features for only $19 a year.

                          Available on Web

                          Bonus: Don’t Make These Common Mistakes When Using Meeting Schedulers

                          In the excitement of streamlining your scheduling process, it can be easy to forget the feelings of those you’re inviting to meet. I know. I’ve done this.

                          To say “Hey, schedule time on my calendar” feels colder than “Hey, here’s my calendar. To avoid all the back and forth, pick a time that works best for you.”

                          Always make sure to frame your invite with your scheduler app with the benefit to them and why we’re doing it this way rather than the old fashioned, personal way.

                          A little finesse goes a long way. Without it, you risk seeming transactional and cold.

                          Some meeting scheduler widgets you can embed in your site can take a couple seconds to load. If you go this route, make sure there’s text just above the widget that lets your guest know the calendar will appear below and to wait for it to load.

                          If you use an online meeting tool like Zoom, it’s also important to explicitly let them know the meeting will take place on Zoom and include the Zoom link in the email reminder. Many make the mistake of not clarifying where the meeting will actually take place which can create last minute chaos at the time of the meeting.

                          Should you require special settings, like ethernet, external mics or lighting, let your guests know that on your thank you page and reminder emails so they are prepared for the meeting and you end up with the best meeting possible.

                          With clear communication in your automation, your meeting scheduler tools can almost perform like a virtual assistant for a fraction of the cost, or free, depending on the app you choose.

                          The Bottom Line

                          Meeting scheduler apps are diverse in features and unique in design. Before committing to one and realizing it’s not a fit, I recommend exploring which 3 might best fit you and then doing a trial with each of them at the same time so that you can see how they feel as you use them side by side.

                          Scheduling meetings the old fashioned way can be tedious. Conversely, finding a scheduling app that works seamlessly in the background is heavenly.

                          Like cell phones, meeting scheduler apps are moving from a nice-to-have luxury to must-have necessity in the lives of productive people. As you explore your options, stay true to your brand and the tools that have worked well for you to this point and simply find a meeting scheduler app that plays well with what you have created.

                          Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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