How to shop for the best laptop for school 2021

white laptop and black mortarboard graduation cap pattern on blue background

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  • Consider your budget and how you’re planning to use your device when buying a new school laptop.
  • Students should also look for education discounts and consider the resources available on campus.
  • It’s also important to consider whether a MacBook, Chromebook, or Windows PC is best for your needs.

As a college student, your laptop is your lifeline. Whether you’re working on a paper, watching movies in bed, or blasting music before a night out, your laptop is at the center of almost everything you do.

That’s why picking out the right one is so important. There’s a lot to consider when shopping for a laptop, but there are two key questions that will guide most of your decisions: What do you intend to use it for, and how much are you willing to spend?

There are many other factors, but those two questions should be at the center of your search. A student studying history or English, for example, will experience very different workloads than those pursuing a major in graphic design or video production.

Here’s a look at what to consider when buying a laptop for school.

Know what you’re getting for your money

dollar bills money

Budget is the biggest consideration when searching for a new laptop. The best laptops usually cost around $1,000 or more, but you can find worthwhile picks below that price point.

Laptops that cost around $1,000 will typically have the latest processors from Intel in the Core i5 or Core i7 line, which means they should offer fast performance and last for at least the typical four years of study. These laptops also usually have high-quality durable designs, 13-inch screens that have a resolution of at least 1080p, and enough memory and storage to handle most workloads. It’s good to think of $1,000 as a baseline price for a new laptop.

Laptops in the $300 to $600 range will typically come with less powerful processors and usually top out at 8GB of memory (RAM). Laptops closer to the $300 end of the spectrum or lower will probably run on an Intel Celeron or Pentium processor, meanwhile you’re likely to find Intel Core chips closer to the $600 range. Many devices in the price bracket will be Chromebooks, which are best for those who just need a laptop for getting online and using Google’s suite of apps like Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Sheets.

If you’re spending $2,000 or more on a laptop, you can expect to start seeing options for features like dedicated graphics, Intel Core i7 or Core i9 processors, larger screens with sharper resolutions, at least 512GB of solid-state storage, and at least 16GB of RAM. Most students won’t need to spend this much on a laptop unless they’re planning to use it for gaming in their spare time.

Learn about the tech resources available on campus first

Working on computer
Young food blogger entrepreneur writing blog post and working online on laptop from home office.

Even if you are planning to pursue a major that might require heavy-duty computing, most colleges have computer labs on campus and allow students to rent tech equipment. The facilities will vary depending on the campus, and schools known for specializing in certain fields like technology or design may have more advanced computer labs than others. 

Regardless, it’s a good idea to educate yourself about the resources available on-site before investing in your own computer. Make it a priority to see the computer labs during a campus visit, conduct some online research by browsing the college’s website, or even reach out to the admissions office for more information if you have questions. 

This will help you gain a better understanding of whether you’ll be using your personal computer for the majority of your classwork, or if you’ll be able to rely on the school’s resources for more demanding workloads.   

Look for student discounts before you buy.

College student graduation

Many laptop makers offer special deals and discounts for students, so be sure to browse their education programs before buying. 

  • Apple offers year-round education discounts that take $100-$200 off the price of a MacBook laptop depending on the model. As part of its special back-to-school promotion running through September 27, Apple is also throwing in a free pair of standard AirPods. 
  • Acer’s student discounts provide a 10% discount and free shipping for those who qualify. 
  • Dell also slashes 10% off the prices of select electronics for students in addition to offering other sales on laptops for the back-to-school season.
  • Lenovo offers a 5% discount, but that doesn’t apply to products that are on doorbuster or clearance sales. 

Check out our full guide to the best back-to-school discounts for more deals.

Decide whether a Mac, Windows PC, or Chromebook is best for you

Microsoft's Windows 11 software being shown on the screens of various laptops.
Microsoft’s Windows 11 update will better bridge the gap between laptops and tablets, an ambition it’s pursued for almost a decade.

Aside from budget, choosing the right operating system is the most important decision you’ll make when buying a new computer. For most people, this decision comes down to which software they’re most comfortable and familiar with. But each operating system offers certain benefits that are worth considering.

Windows

Windows is the most popular laptop operating system and offers the most flexibility. You can find Windows devices at almost any price range, unlike MacBooks which start at $899 for the newest MacBook Air with a student discount. Certain Windows laptops are also available in 2-in-1 designs with touchscreens that allow them to serve as both laptops and tablets. That could make Windows a better choice for those who plan to use their laptop for entertainment, too.

Mac

Apple’s macOS is the operating system that powers MacBook laptops. If you own an iPhone, you might feel most comfortable with macOS since Apple’s smartphone and laptop software share many apps and features. For example, iPhones and MacBooks each have apps like iMessage, Safari, Maps, Mail, and Calendar. Plus, you can pick up from wherever you left off in most of Apple’s apps when switching between iPhone and Mac through a feature called Handoff. 

Chrome OS

Chromebooks, on the other hand, run on Google’s Chrome OS. It’s a very simple operating system that’s designed around using web-based apps like Google’s Chrome browser, Google Docs, and Google Sheets. They’re best for those who just want an affordable laptop for getting online and performing basic tasks like notetaking, researching, and web browsing. If you don’t anticipate needing much software for your schoolwork other than Google’s web browser and word processor, a Chromebook might be the right choice for you.

Choose a laptop with the right specifications for your needs

MacBook Air red open

Next, you’ll want to think about factors like how much processor power you need and what size you’re looking for in a laptop. Here’s a rundown of the most important specifications you should consider during the shopping process.

Processor and memory

A laptop’s processor is the biggest factor in determining its performance. Most laptops run on Intel processors, but you’ll occasionally find some powered by AMD chips as well.

In general, it’s best to avoid buying a laptop with a processor that’s more than two generations old. That’s because you want to make sure your laptop remains fast and capable for at least four to five years. Investing in technology that’s several years old could result in you spending more money in the long run since you might have to replace it sooner than expected.

When it comes to memory, you’ll ideally want a machine with at least 8GB of RAM. The RAM often determines how good your computer is at juggling multiple tasks, such as opening dozens of tabs in a web browser, and buying a laptop without enough RAM could result in slower performance under heavy workloads.

In general, a laptop with an Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM is plenty for most tasks. But an Intel Core i3 laptop will also suffice if your budget is a little tighter and you don’t anticipate that you’ll be using your laptop for much more than browsing the web and watching Netflix. It’s common to see Chromebooks with lower-end specs when it comes to the processor and RAM because they’re only meant for basic tasks like these. 

Display quality

Just like anything else, your laptop’s display quality and size depends on how you intend to use it. If you’re mostly using your laptop for writing papers, taking notes, and conducting research, you probably don’t need a super high-resolution screen. Many laptops come with a screen resolution of at least 1080p, which is all you really need for basic word processing and research. 

If you’re already planning to spend $1,000 or more on a laptop for other reasons, like the processing power, your laptop will probably have an even sharper display with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 or 2,560 x 1,200. Touchscreens can also add to the price, so consider whether that’s a priority for you before buying. Some laptops come with the option to upgrade to a 4K display, but it’s usually more money than it’s worth, especially considering it can impact battery life. 

Size

Many laptops come with 13-inch screens, but you can also find larger models with 15-inch or 17-inch screens, and smaller-sized 11-inch laptops. Larger-sized models are more expensive and usually come with more powerful processors, while smaller-sized laptops are tailored for convenience and portability and are generally equipped to only handle the basics. 

Laptops with 13-inch screens fall right in the middle and usually offer the best combination of screen space and portability for most people. 

Consider how you plan to use your laptop before deciding which size is right for you. Is having a device that’s lightweight enough to squeeze in a small bag and carry around campus your main priority, or are you planning to primarily use your laptop at your dorm room desk?

Storage

Many laptops come with at least 128GB or 256GB of storage, except for Chromebooks since they rely on cloud storage. This should be enough storage for most people, but students working with large video files and photos might want to upgrade to a laptop with 512GB or more. 

Just remember that storage drives up the price, so it’s important to carefully consider how much you need. If you’re not sure how much storage to get, you can always opt for a laptop with 128GB or 256GB and purchase an external hard drive later if you need it. 

Our guides to the best laptops

Dell XPS 13 2

Still not sure where to start? Check out our laptop buying guides for our favorite picks.

The best laptops for college students

The best laptops overall

The best budget laptops

The best Chromebooks

The best MacBooks 

 

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to set up dual monitors on your Windows PC or Mac computer

A man using two computer monitors while surrounded by plants and cats.
Setting up dual monitors can boost your productivity and free space.

  • To set up dual monitors on your computer, you’ll need to connect all your monitors with HDMI or VGA cables.
  • Once you’ve connected the dual monitors to your computer, open your PC or Mac’s “Displays” menu.
  • You can set up your dual monitors to display the same image, or work separately.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

In an office, it’s common to see people using multiple monitors at the same computer. It’s a great way to expand your workspace and use lots of different apps at once.

Luckily, dual monitors aren’t just for professionals. You can set up dual monitors on your PC and Mac easily. You just need the monitors and cables to connect them.

How to set up dual monitors on a Windows 10 computer

1. Connect both monitors to the computer tower or laptop you’re using, and make sure they’re both turned on. Depending on the monitor and your computer, you’ll need a VGA, HDMI, or USB cable. In some cases, you might need a combination of different cables.

Your computer should recognize the new monitor right away. Both screens will go black and might flicker a bit.

Two pictures on top of each other. The top picture shows a Windows laptop next to a black screened monitor. The bottom image shows the same Windows laptop, but its screen has now been extended onto the monitor.
A Windows laptop before it’s been connected to the second monitor, and after.

2. Once the screen comes back, right-click on an empty part of your PC’s desktop and a drop-down menu will appear. Click on Display settings.

A Windows 10 desktop, with the "Display settings" option highlighted.
Open your PC’s “Display settings” menu.

3. Scroll down to the Multiple Displays option, open the drop-down menu, and choose how you want the dual monitors to work. Here are your options:

  • Extend these displays: You can set your screens up so that they display different things and your mouse cursor can move between them.
  • Duplicate these displays: This option will show the same image on both screens, which can be useful for PowerPoint presentations and lectures.
  • Show only on 1: Select this if you only want to use the primary monitor.
  • Show only on 2: Select this if you only want to use the secondary monitor.

4. Once you’ve picked an option, click Keep changes.

A Windows 10 Display Settings menu, with the various multiple monitor display styles highlighted.
Choose how you want your monitors to operate.

5. If you chose the Extend these displays option, scroll back up to the Rearrange your displays section. Your main monitor will be listed as “1,” and your new monitor will be listed as “2.” Click and drag them around to match their arrangement in real life, then click Apply.

A Windows 10 Display Settings menu, with the options for rearranging your screens highlighted.
You’ll need to click “Apply” to save your changes.

How to set up dual monitors on a Mac

1. Connect your second monitor to your MacBook, iMac, or Mac Mini using an HDMI cable. If your Mac device doesn’t have an HDMI port, you’ll need to connect the HDMI cable to a USB cable or hub, and then connect that to the Mac.

Your computer should recognize the new monitor right away. Both screens will go black and might flicker a bit.

Two pictures on top of each other. The top picture shows a Mac laptop next to a black screened monitor. The bottom image shows the same Mac laptop, but its screen has now been extended onto the monitor.
A Mac laptop before it’s been connected to an external monitor, and afterwards.

2. Once the display comes back, open the System Preferences app – you can click the Apple logo in the top-right corner of your screen and open it from there – and select Displays.

A Mac's System Preferences menu, with the "Displays" option highlighted.
Open your Mac’s “Displays” menu.

3. Two windows will open, one on each display. The window on your main display will have more options – use this window and click Arrangement at the top.

4. If you want both monitors to show the same image, check off Mirror Displays. If you want them to work separately, uncheck it.

5. Click and drag the blue boxes to match the arrangement of your monitors in real life. You can also click and drag just the white bar to pick which monitor has the Dock – this will be your main monitor.

A Mac "Displays" menu, with various options highlighted.
You can change your display settings in various ways.

Ross James contributed to a previous version of this article.

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How to uninstall or delete apps on your Mac computer

Searching on laptop
It’s easy to uninstall apps from your Mac.

  • You can uninstall apps from your Mac by moving them to the Trash.
  • If you downloaded the app from the App Store, you can also uninstall it through Launchpad.
  • Uninstalling an app should delete most of its data, but some data may be left behind on your Mac.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

If you’re like most people, apps take up more space on your Mac than any other kind of file. And in many cases, the biggest apps are ones that you barely use.

Luckily, it’s easy to uninstall apps on a Mac. You can get rid of them like any other file: Just throw them in the trash.

Here’s how to uninstall apps from your Mac.

How to uninstall apps on a Mac

Using Finder

1. Find the app you want to uninstall, either on your Desktop or in a Finder window. If the app is on your Dock but you can’t find it anywhere else, right-click it in the Dock and then select Options and Show in Finder.

2. Once you find the app icon, you have two options. You can:

  • Right-click the icon and select Move to Trash
  • Click and drag the app icon to the Trash app
A Mac's Applications folder, with the Move to Trash option highlighted.
You can right-click on any app or file to delete it.

In either case, the app icon will disappear from your Finder or Desktop, along with all or most of its data. If the app icon is still in your Dock, just click it and it should give an error message and then disappear.

And to fully delete all the data, open Trash and click Empty in the top-right corner.

A Mac's Trash folder, with the "Empty" option highlighted.
Click “Empty” to fully delete everything in the Trash folder.

Using Launchpad

If you downloaded the app you’re uninstalling from the Mac App Store, you can also uninstall it through the Launchpad.

1. Open Launchpad and scroll to find the app you want to uninstall.

2. Click and hold your mouse on the app until all the apps start to shake.

3. If the app was downloaded from the App Store, it should have an X icon in the top-right corner. Click that X, and then click Delete.

A Mac's Launchpad screen, with the "Delete" option highlighted.
Click the X and then confirm you want to delete the app.

The app icon – and its data – will disappear.

Olivia Young contributed to a previous version of this article.

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How to get a virtual pet on your MacBook Touch Bar with Touchbar Pets

macbook pro touch bar
Touchbar Pets gives you a cute animal without any of the shedding.

  • Touchbar Pets is an app that lets you raise virtual pets that live in your MacBook’s Touch Bar.
  • Once you download Touchbar Pets and launch it, you can adopt a dog, cat, rabbit, or hamster.
  • You can walk, feed, and play with your virtual pets using the Touch Bar.
  • You need a MacBook with a Touch Bar, an iPad set up with Sidecar, or a Touch Bar emulator to use Touchbar pets.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Tamagotchis, Pokémon, Furbies – if there’s one thing that people can never get enough of, it’s virtual pets.

If you’re looking for a new virtual pet to look after, and you have a MacBook with a Touch Bar, consider the free Touchbar Pets app. With just a few clicks, you can adopt an animal and walk, feed, and play with it all from your Touch Bar.

Here’s how to get Touchbar Pets set up and adopt your first pet.

How to get Touchbar Pets

Firstly, you’ll have to download the app from the developer’s website.

1. Visit the Touchbar Pets homepage and click the blue “Download” button.

touchbar pets 1
Touchbar Pets is free to download.

2. Save the .zip file to your computer, and then double-click it to extract the “Touchbar Pets” app.

3. Open the app and press “Play.”

touchbar pets 2
Click “Play” to get started.

4. You’ll be given two options: “Adopt Pet” and “Existing Pets.” Click adopt to make a new pet – once you’ve adopted a pet and closed the app, you can come back later and click “Existing” to see the pet again.

5. In the “Adopt Pet” menu, you can give your pet a name, pick its species (you can have a dog, cat, rabbit, or hamster), and pick its color (white, cream, black, or brown).

Once you’ve got your pet how you want it, click “Create,” and you’re ready to start.

touchbar pets 3
Design your pet and then create it.

6. You’ll be brought to the main game menu, and a tutorial will appear. Click through it to learn how the game plays, or check out our guide below.

How to play Touchbar Pets

Once you’ve closed the tutorial, your new pet will appear in the Touch Bar, along with four different stats.

  • Health tracks how close your pet is to death. If you go too long without feeding it, this will go down, and eventually hit zero.
  • Hunger tracks if your pet needs food. Letting this drop makes your pet less healthy.
  • Tokens are the currency in Touchbar Pets. Earn them by taking your pet on walks, and spend them on food, toys, and other collectibles.
  • Mode tells you how you can currently interact with your pet. “Design” lets you place props in its habitat, “Eat” lets you feed it, and “Play” lets you give it toys.

The main menu and game modes, explained

In the main menu, you have an inventory with six slots, and five options below it. Each of these has its own function and importance.

touchbar pets 7
The main menu gives you five main options.

Shop

This is where you’ll spend the tokens you earn. You can buy food, props for your animal’s habitat, and toys. Every animal has its own likes and dislikes, so be sure to read each item’s description.

touchbar pets 4
Every item has a description and price.

Just note that food and toys are all single-use – once your pet interacts with them, they’ll disappear, and you’ll have to buy them again.

If your pet dies, you can also spend 150 tokens on a “RevivePotion,” which will bring it back to full health.

Walk

This is probably where you’ll be spending most of your time.

Once you choose a walk duration – you can pick between “Short,” “Average,” and “Long” – you can take your pet on walks by pressing and holding your finger on either side of its habitat. You have to keep your finger on the Touch Bar for the entire walk.

By completing a walk, you’ll earn tokens – $50, $100, and $200 respectively for each duration. But you have to complete the entire walk, since you only get your reward at the very end.

Along the way, you’ll also have the chance to find treasure. Every 250m there’s a chance you’ll find a treasure box, which can be tapped for a prize. There’s also a random chance of finding litter, which might also give you treasure when you tap it.

touchbar pets 8
Walking with a cat and finding litter on the road.

However, be sure to notice if your pet poops on the side of the road. You’ll have to tap their waste to clean it, and if you don’t, you’ll be issued a $20 fine.

Pen

This option puts you in “Design” mode and lets you place props in your pet’s habitat.

While in Design mode, you can click a prop in your inventory and then tap a spot in the habitat to place it. Remember that none of the props are functional – they’re just for making the habitat look cute.

Mode

Unlike the other buttons, “Mode” has two icons that you’ll switch between when you click it.

While you have the bone icon selected, you’re in “Eat” mode. This lets you click a piece of food in your inventory, and then tap a spot in the habitat to place it. Your pet will run over and gobble it up. This, as you might expect, is how you keep its hunger and health stable.

If the tennis ball icon is selected, you’re in “Play” mode. Click a toy in the inventory and tap to place it down, and your pet will come over to check it out and then play with it.

touchbar pets 10
“Insider” the cat playing with a cardboard box.

Again, remember that food and toys are single-use – once you place it, it’ll be used and gone within moments.

Goals

The Goals menu gives you a list of tasks to accomplish, which you can check off with a star once they’re done. If you’ve ever played a game with achievements, this is similar.

Additionally, if you ever want to read the in-game tutorial again, enter this menu and uncheck the first “Tutorial” goal. As soon as you exit the Goals menu, you’ll be given the tutorial again.

touchbar pets 9
You won’t get any points for completing these goals, but they can be a fun challenge.

You can only have one pet in a habitat at a time. But feel free to adopt multiple pets – you can switch between them by restarting the app and clicking “Existing Pets” on the intro screen.

Note that to see your pet, you’ll need to be focused on the “Touchbar Pets” app with whatever monitor has the TouchBar. If you click another app, or move the app window to another monitor, your pet will disappear.

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How to record your screen on a Mac computer with the Screenshot Toolbar or QuickTime Player

woman using laptop and cell phone at home working
It’s easy to screen record on any Mac.

  • To screen record on Mac, use the Screenshot Toolbar or QuickTime Player.
  • If you have a new Mac, you can screen record on the Screenshot Toolbar with a keyboard shortcut.
  • QuickTime Player is great for older macOS versions, and screen records just as easily.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Say you want to capture something on your Mac screen – but a screenshot just won’t do it.

That’s when screen recordings come in handy. You can record a video of your Mac’s screen using either the Screenshot Toolbar tool, or the QuickTime Player app, both of which come pre-installed on your Mac.

How to screen record on a Mac using the Screenshot Toolbar

Again, remember that this method is only available if you’re running macOS Mojave or newer. If you’re not sure what version of macOS you have, read our article on how to check your macOS version and install any needed updates.

Once you’re ready to record:

1. Press Command + Shift + 5 on your keyboard to open the Screenshot Toolbar.

A toolbar with a number of icons and options will appear at the bottom of the screen. You’re looking for the icons that have the record symbol (a solid circle) over them. One will record a video of your entire screen, and the other will let you select a specific section of the screen to record.

how to screen record on mac 1
The two options in the middle of this toolbar will let you screen record.

2. Pick which recording type you want – and if you picked “Record Selected Portion,” highlight the part of your screen that you want to film – and then click “Record.” If you want to cancel a screen recording before it begins, press the Esc key.

3. Your screen recording will start immediately, and capture everything on your screen (or in the selected section) and any audio playing. When you’re done, click the stop button in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

By default, your screen recordings will be saved to the desktop as .mov files. You can change this by opening the Screenshot Toolbar and clicking “Options” – see below for more details.

How to screen record on a Mac using QuickTime Player

This is the method you’ll want to use if you’re running an older version of macOS. If you go through these steps while running macOS Mojave or newer, it’ll just lead you back to the Screenshot Toolbar.

1. Open the QuickTime Player app on your Mac. You can find it in your Applications folder, or by searching for it.

2. Click “File” in the menu bar at the top of your screen.

3. Click “New Screen Recording” and wait for a dark gray recording window to appear.

Screen record Mac 3
Select the “New Screen Recording” option.

4. Click the red record button, then click anywhere on the screen to start a fullscreen recording, or drag your mouse to record only a specific section.

You can also click the arrow next to the record button to choose whether or not to enable the microphone, and if you’d like your mouse clicks to be highlighted.

macos high sierra quicktime screen recording
QuickTime will give you less options, but still lets you narrate the recording.

5. When you’re finished recording, click the stop button in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

Once you stop recording, your new video will open in QuickTime automatically. From here, you can watch, edit, and share it.

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How to insert a blank page in Word and keep your document’s formatting intact

woman typing on laptop
You can add a blank page or a page break in Microsoft Word.

  • You can add a blank page into a Word document by clicking the Blank Page option in the Insert menu.
  • Using this option will keep your Word document’s formatting intact.
  • You can also insert a new page break in a Microsoft Word document to add space between sections.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Microsoft Word allows you to insert blank pages between existing pages with just a few clicks.

It’s a helpful feature when you’re working on long documents or presentations, because it seamlessly inserts a blank page without disrupting the format of the existing content.

Page breaks are another option for adding space between sections. This formatting tool moves the content after a page break to the beginning of the next page.

If you want to add or insert a new blank page into your existing Word document, here are two ways to do it.

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How to check the CPU usage on your computer to see how well it’s performing

woman using laptop headphones music
It’s important to check your computer’s CPU usage to make sure it’s operating normally.

  • You can check your CPU usage on a PC with the Task Manager or Resource Monitor apps.
  • On a Mac, you can check your CPU usage using the Activity Monitor app.
  • Your CPU usage tracks how hard your computer is working to run programs, make calculations, and more.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Your PC or Mac’s central processing unit (CPU) is like its brain. It’s the piece of your computer that tells every other part how to work, which programs to launch, which pictures to show, and more.

 

Your CPU usage – in simpler terms, how much of the CPU’s energy is being used – is measured with a percentage. When your computer is idle, your CPU usage should float around the single digits or low teens. When running videos, games, or other intensive applications, the CPU usage should jump, but still never stay at 100% for too long.

If you’ve noticed performance issues, like a slow startup time or lagging apps, you’ll want to check your computer’s current CPU usage. That way, you can make sure the CPU’s usage percentage is staying in a healthy range, both when your computer is idle and running at high gear.

How to check your CPU usage on a Windows PC

How to check your CPU usage on a Mac

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Why does my Mac’s mouse keep disappearing? How to fix a mouse cursor that won’t stay on the screen

using mac
It’s easy to find a mouse cursor that’s disappeared.

  • If the mouse keeps disappearing on your Mac, make sure that it’s connected, and the cursor isn’t too small.
  • You can quickly find your cursor by shaking your Mac’s mouse, which will cause the cursor to suddenly grow larger.
  • Though rare, a constantly disappearing mouse could also signal an issue with an app or your Mac’s memory.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

A disappearing cursor or mouse pointer can be a frustrating time-waster. The good news is that while there are several reasons why you might not be able to find your cursor, there are also easy ways to bring it back.

If your Mac’s mouse cursor has a habit of going missing, here are the most common ways to get it back. 

How to troubleshoot when your mouse keeps disappearing on a Mac

Quickly shake your mouse

When troubleshooting a problem like this, where there are several different explanations, it’s best to start with the simplest solution.

If you can’t see your mouse pointer, try shaking your physical mouse – do this by moving it left and right across your mousepad quickly. 

If you do it quick enough, your mouse cursor will blow up in size until you stop shaking. It’s hard to miss, but you may need to do it a few times before you find it.

This feature should be enabled by default, but if it’s not, you can enable it:

1. Click the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your screen, and select “System Preferences.”

2. In the menu that appears, click “Accessibility.”

3. Click “Display” in the sidebar.

4. Check off the “Shake mouse pointer to locate” option.

Make your cursor bigger

If you’re having trouble tracking your mouse as it moves, it might mean you need to make the cursor bigger permanently. Luckily, you can do just that.

1. Click the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your screen, and select “System Preferences.”

2. In the menu that appears, click “Accessibility.”

3. Click “Display” in the sidebar.

4. Use the “Cursor size” slider to make your cursor bigger. The farther to the right it is, the bigger it’ll be.

Screen Shot 2021 02 03 at 2.40.26 PM
Use System Preferences to make your mouse bigger temporarily or permanently.

Check that your mouse is working

If your mouse isn’t working, your cursor won’t appear at all. 

If you’re using a wireless mouse, turn your mouse off and replace its batteries, or charge it. Once you do, turn it back on and reconnect it.

If you’re using a USB mouse, disconnect and reconnect it.

If neither of these methods work, disconnect your mouse and restart your computer, then reconnect.

Screen Shot 2021 02 03 at 2.51.07 PM
If you see this in your “Mouse” menu, there’s no mouse connected.

Change or restart apps

It’s possible the app you are currently using is suppressing the mouse. Sometimes this happens intentionally, like with certain video apps, but it might also be a bug or a glitch. 

Press Command + Tab to switch to a different app and try moving the mouse again. If you think it’s a bug with a specific app, restart the app.

Make sure it’s not on a different monitor

This might seem obvious, but it’s often the culprit: If you have more than one monitor connected to your Mac, it’s possible the mouse is on a different display and not where you expect it. 

This is most likely if your monitors are misconfigured so you can’t drag the mouse pointer from one monitor to the next. 

monitors office setup
If your monitors are on the wrong sides, it’s easy to lose track of your mouse.

Reset your NVRAM

If your mouse is still missing, your Mac’s NVRAM (nonvolatile random-access memory) might be corrupted. Resetting this memory will restore your mouse (and probably fix other bugs you’re having).

Don’t worry – this won’t delete any of your files or personal data.

To do this:

1. Turn off your Mac computer. 

2. When you turn it back on, immediately press Option + Command + R + P. 

apple keyboard nvram
You’ll have to press Option + Command + R + P.

3. Hold these keys down for about 20 seconds. You can release the keys after the second startup sound; or, if your computer is a recent model with the T2 security chip, after the Apple logo appears and disappears for the second time.

Let your computer start up again normally, and the issue should be fixed.

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Read the original article on Business Insider