What to Do When the Cursor Freezes?
By Milton Kazmeyer
Updated September 28, 2017
A frozen cursor can be an extremely frustrating computer glitch to deal with. An immobile cursor can indicate a number of different problems, ranging from a crashed mouse or USB driver to a complete system failure. Working your way through common sources of this problem can help you recover control of your system without losing data, when possible.
One common cause of a frozen cursor is a problem with your mouse. If you use an optical mouse, try picking it up off the desk and see if the LED light activates. If not, the mouse has lost connection with the PC and is not drawing power, and you should disconnect and reconnect the mouse to see if that fixes it. If the light activates, you should check the optical sensor port on the bottom of the mouse to determine whether debris may be blocking the sensor. If the mouse has power and a clear sensor, then you can rule out hardware problems.
If your computer is experiencing heavy memory load or intensive disk access, it may cause a system slowdown and prevent input devices from functioning properly. If your system has a disk activity light on the front of the case, check it to see if your system is active. If the light flickers rapidly, it could be a sign that your computer just needs to catch up with the current task and you may regain control soon. A solid, unchanging light or steady, regular pulses may indicate a crashed program or loop that the system cannot escape.
Sometimes the cursor can lock up, but other input sources will still function. Try pressing keys on the keyboard to determine if you can still interact with the computer that way. Pressing Alt + Tab or the Start key on your keyboard may allow you to switch out of a crashed application and regain control of your cursor. If your keyboard is working, you can also bring up the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Delete and selecting that option from the menu with the cursor keys. The Task Manager will allow you to shut down any applications that have crashed and stopped responding.
When all else fails, you may have to reboot your computer. If you cannot bring up the shutdown menu with Ctrl + Alt + Delete, try pressing the reset button on the front of your computer. If a single press will not reboot your system, you can either hold the button in for several seconds, or reach back to the power supply and switch your computer off. If you power your computer down entirely, wait at least 15 to 20 seconds before switching it back on, to allow hardware to power down properly. This method will result in the loss of any unsaved work, but it should restore control of your system.
Milton Kazmeyer has worked in the insurance, financial and manufacturing fields and also served as a federal contractor. He began his writing career in 2007 and now works full-time as a writer and transcriptionist. His primary fields of expertise include computers, astronomy, alternative energy sources and the environment.