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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!

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    Tucker Cummings

    Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on November 19, 2019

    10 Smartest Productivity Software to Boost Work Performance

    10 Smartest Productivity Software to Boost Work Performance

    Productivity is the ability to perform tasks efficiently and in a timely manner. In today’s busy and competitive business world, productivity is paramount for any business, organization or corporation.

    Productivity is more than just performing tasks successfully. It is about investing and allocating resources, so the company or business can perform to meet its core goals.

    As part of 2019, it is important to commit to new goals. When shopping around for new productivity software keep in mind the following things: cost, reliability, cross-platform compatibility, on the go, technical support, etc.

    In the subsequent sections, we will examine the most recommended productivity software in the marketplace. In addition, we will look at what makes them tick and what separates them from the rest of the pack.

    Projects and Tasks Management

    1. Monday dot com

      Monday dot com was founded to create a team management solution so people connect to workplace processes across any industry. The productivity tool is used in more than 140 countries.

      The user interface is intuitive and impressive. It makes collaboration productive and fun because of its simplicity.

      The tool is deemed to have one of the best user experiences across the mobile and online project and task management platform.

      The product includes usability, customization, admin control, group management and control, private or public control, in-group messaging and more.

      Check out the software here!

      2. Asana

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        The mantra behind Asana’s product is to enable teams from across different organizations to work together effortlessly.

        The software comes with lots of customizations. When you create a project as a user, you can choose between a traditional task view and the kanban-style board view. The dashboard allows you to see the progress on a project, and it includes an excellent advanced set of search tools.

        Also, Asana’s Android and iOS apps do retain the web interface’s clean look and feel.

        Check out the software here!

        3. Trello

          Trello was founded in the summer of 2010 and two years later the platform added 500,000 members. Anyone within sales, marketing, HR and operations can collaborate successfully with this product.

          Moreover, the tool has over 100 plus integrations with Google Drive, Slack, Jira and others. The product works flawlessly across various platforms.

          Some of the well-known features includes is speed, easy-to-use, and set up. The interface includes due dates, assignments, file storage, checklists and more.

          Check out the software here!

          4. Jira

            The Jira software is flexible and heralded as the next-generation project.

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            The software allows teams to design and adapt the software to an organization’s needs. This includes having visibility into long term goals, project roadmaps, status of work, real-time release information and more. In addition, the interface is customizable.

            The Atlassian Cloud does not support multiple separate domains, subdomains or domain aliases in Google Apps.

            Check out the software here!

            5. Evernote Business

              Evernote was founded in 2008 and reached 11 million users by 2011. The company was founded on the premise that their product should address the ever-increasing volume and speed of information.

              The product helps bring together groups of teams because of versatility and functionality. It creates documents, collaboration on projects, store information all a single location.

              Moreover, you can find information quickly and includes effective search capabilities and integrations with existing tools you may already use.

              Check out the software here!

              Communication

              6. Slack

                Slack was founded in 2013 and the tool is heralded as a collaboration hub. Slack is where productivity happens. When you start a new project, hire new staff, deploy a code, review a sales contract, finalize on a budget, Slack covers all of these. Some of the major highlights include highly customizable notifications and seamless integrations with other collaboration and office tools. The free version of the software comes loaded with features, but does not archive old message. So, you have to review what are the best options for your organization or business.

                Check out the software here!

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                7. Spike

                  Newcomer Spike makes emails more conversational by helping teams maintain productivity, communication, and collaboration. All of these are achieved from within their inbox.

                  Spike works on top of any existing email (O365, G suite, and IMAP) turning it into a real-time messenger and making your communication much more functional and efficient.

                  Spike’s features include built-in groups and channels, voice and video calls, email encryption, instant access to all your files, and much more.

                  Check out the software here!

                  Creation

                  8. Office 365

                    Microsoft’s Office 365 could not be excluded from the conversation and especially as it pertains to productivity software.

                    Of course we are all familiar with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. But there is more capabilities that come with it.

                    You have business-class email, online storage space, and teamwork solutions. These services can be accessed from just about anywhere.

                    Within this suite is Microsoft Sway, which is a presentation software and a step above PowerPoint.

                    Check out the software here!

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                    9. Grammarly

                      Grammarly helps to cut down time on editing. Professionals in several industries like law, healthcare, academia, marketing, engineering and journalism use it to provide instant feedback on the accuracy of writing in English.

                      Once you install the extension from Google Chrome, you can get corrections when you are drafting an email, using social media and other apps.

                      Grammarly is AI powered and it’s a wonderful tool to have to check spelling and grammar before a presentation.

                      Check out the software here!

                      Team Analytics

                      10. ActivTrak

                        ActivTrak is a business intelligence tool that allows you to access team behavior analytics. In other words, it is data-driven.

                        The pros include two-factor authentication with active directory integration. You can also automate your alerts and it has an intuitive interface with easy-to-use admin controls.

                        Furthermore, it comes with Google sign-in, iOS app, productivity track, and more. The bottomline is the product offers employee productivity metrics along with team behavior analytics.

                        Check out the software here!

                        The Bottom Line

                        Depending on the size, budget, resources, and immediate needs of your company, not all productivity software will exactly solve your problem. You will have to contact any of the providers above and probe extensively to find the right product that is made for your business.

                        More Productivity Tools

                        Featured photo credit: Domenico Loia via unsplash.com

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