How to diagnose the “phantom cursor” issue on your mac

I randomly experience phantom cursor movements and mouse clicks on my Windows 10 PC. Often, the phantom actions occur in the middle of work I am doing, so the focus is shifted to another area of the desktop, causing unintended actions and consequences. In fact, the problem is occurring as I attempt to write this inquiry, causing me to try and pull the cursor and focus back to my browser window.

This isn’t the first time the problem has cropped up, though it is occurring with more frequency, which is diminishing my ability to use the PC. I have also noted the area of the desktop where the phantom movements/clicks occur has migrated. Previously, the cursor relocated to the right-center edge of the desktop. Now the cursor moves to the top-right edge of the desktop.

I’ve swapped out my mouse, and that doesn’t have an impact on the problem. I just upgraded to the latest build of Windows 10, and that had no impact on the problem. I’ve not tried any troubleshooting with drivers on the machine, as that is something I don’t have the native skills to attempt.

I am running Windows 10 Build 17134. The PC is an HP Pavilion 27-n041 TouchSmart All-in-One Desktop with an Intel i7 CPU.

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Press Windows key + X
Click Device Manager
Expand Mice and other pointing devices.
Right click on the Mouse and click uninstall

Press Alt + F4
Press the Windows key + X
Press the letter U
Press the letter R

Restart in Normal mode and see if the mouse works.

It was an issue with the Synaptics drivers for my touchpad. I had to disable some Palm Check sensitivity, which I had read about a few days ago, but could not find the option.

Press Windows key + X
Press the ‘M’ key
Press tab once
Use the down arround to select Mice and other pointing devices.
Press the right arrow to expand Mice and other pointing devices.
Use the down arrow again to select your HID-Compliant mouse
Press the right click menu key on your keyboard (usually located between the Alt and Control keys)
Select uninstall
Hit Enter

Press Alt + F4
Press the Windows key + X
Press the letter U
Press the letter R

Other things you can try.

Method 1: Run the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter. This troubleshooter finds and fixes common problems with devices on your computer.

Click Start.
Type Troubleshooting, and select Troubleshooting in the results.
In the new window, click Hardware and Sound.
In the list of options, click on Hardware and Devices.
Click Next and follow the on-screen instructions.

Method 2: Use the System File Checker tool to repair missing or corrupted system files. This allows users to scan for corruptions in Windows system files and restore corrupted files.

Open Start, type: CMD
Right click CMD
Click Run as administrator

Type in at the prompt OR Copy and Paste these one at a time : (Hit enter after each)

Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth

Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth

Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth

Also run the System File Checker utility:
Open Start, type: CMD
Right click CMD
Click Run as administrator

At the Command Prompt, type: sfc/scannow

This will check for any integrity violations

Apple Diagnostics, formerly known as Apple Hardware Test, can check your Mac for hardware issues.

If you think your Mac might have a hardware issue, you can use Apple Diagnostics to help determine which hardware component might be at fault. Apple Diagnostics also suggests solutions and helps you contact Apple Support for assistance.

Prepare your Mac

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Disconnect all external devices except keyboard, mouse, display, Ethernet connection (if applicable), and connection to AC power.
  3. Make sure that your Mac is on a hard, flat, stable surface with good ventilation.

Start Apple Diagnostics

Apple silicon

  1. Turn on your Mac and continue to press and hold the power button as your Mac starts up.
  2. Release when you see the startup options window, which includes a gear icon labeled Options.
  3. Press Command (⌘)-D on your keyboard.

Intel processor

  1. Turn on your Mac, then immediately press and hold the D key on your keyboard as your Mac starts up.
  2. Release when you see a progress bar or you’re asked to choose a language.

View the test results

Apple Diagnostics shows a progress bar while it’s checking your Mac:

How to diagnose the “phantom cursor” issue on your mac

When testing is complete, Apple Diagnostics shows the results, including one or more reference codes. Learn about Apple Diagnostics reference codes.

How to diagnose the “phantom cursor” issue on your mac

To repeat the test, click “Run the test again” or press Command-R.

To restart your Mac, click Restart or press R.

To shut down, click Shut Down or press S.

To get information about your service and support options, make sure that your Mac is connected to the internet, then click ”Get started” or press Command-G. Your Mac will restart to a webpage with more information. When you’re done, choose Restart or Shut Down from the Apple menu.

Learn more

On an Intel-based Mac, if you can’t start Apple Diagnostics with the D key, try these solutions:

  • Press and hold Option-D at startup to use Apple Diagnostics over the internet.
  • Make sure that your Mac isn’t using a firmware password.

Приложение «Диагностика Apple» диагностирует и распознает неполадки внутренних аппаратных компонентов компьютера, таких как материнская плата, память и устройства беспроводной связи. Возможно, удастся запустить компьютер Mac с помощью приложения «Диагностика Apple», даже если компьютер не загружается в macOS.

Распечатайте эти инструкции. Нажмите кнопку «Общий доступ» в окне «Справка», затем выберите «Печать».

Отсоедините все внешние устройства, такие как клавиатура, мышь, монитор и динамики. Если Вы используете кабель Ethernet или внешний привод DVD, отключите их тоже.

На Mac выберите меню Apple

> «Перезагрузить», затем нажмите и удерживайте клавишу D, пока Mac перезагружается. Продолжайте удерживать клавишу D, пока на экране не появится список языков.

Выберите язык. Диагностика Apple запускается автоматически.

Когда Диагностика Apple закончит работу, появится список найденных проблем. (Код ошибки используется службой поддержки Apple Support.)

Следуйте инструкциям на экране.

Чтобы запустить компьютер со встроенного восстановительного диска и открыть страницу «Обратитесь в службу поддержки Apple» в Safari, нажмите «Начать».

Если Диагностика Apple обнаружит, что карта Wi-Fi работает неправильно, обратитесь в службу поддержки Apple, доставьте компьютер Mac в магазин Apple Store, в котором он был приобретен, либо обратитесь к авторизованному поставщику услуг Apple.

Чтобы снова изменить язык, нажмите сочетание клавиш Command-L.

Приложение «Диагностика Apple» не проверяет внешние аппаратные компоненты, например подключаемые через USB, и устройства, не изготовленные компанией Apple, например PCI-карты сторонних производителей. Оно не проверяет неполадки, связанные с операционной системой (macOS) и программным обеспечением, такие как конфликты между приложениями или расширениями.

Если проблема аппаратного обеспечения не обнаружена, возможно, неполадки возникают в используемой версии macOS и Вам необходимо ее переустановить. Переустановка macOS.

Mac issues can occur for a variety of reasons, but in general most errors can be traced back to unstable software. The best way to prevent problems from cropping up is to make sure you are using the latest versions of Apple’s programs and third-party applications.

How to diagnose the “phantom cursor” issue on your mac
However, if you’ve troubleshooted software and the problem persists, it’s time to consider whether it’s your Mac’s hardware that’s at fault.

Disk Utility is the first program you should fire up if you suspect disk errors or permission issues, but if that fails to identify the problem or you can’t even get your Mac to boot up into the operating system, you can try using Apple’s integrated Mac diagnostics tool.

Apple Diagnostics is built into every Mac released since June 2013. If you have an earlier Mac, the equivalent is called an Apple Hardware Test (AHT), but the basic principles are the same.

How to diagnose the “phantom cursor” issue on your mac
To start using Apple Diagnostics or AHT, first turn off any firmware password if you’re using one. Next, shut down your Mac, disconnect all external devices except keyboard, mouse, display, and any Ethernet connection, and then follow the steps below.

  1. Press the power button on your Mac and then immediately press and hold down the D key on the keyboard. (To start Apple Diagnostics over the internet, hold down Option-D.)
  2. Release the D key when the prompt appears on the screen asking you to choose your language using the arrow keys.
  3. Join a local Wi-Fi network if prompted.
  4. If your Mac is a pre-2013 model, you’ll be given the option to “Perform extended testing,” which essentially checks every block of your Mac’s memory. Select this option if desired and click the Test button. On post-2013 Macs, simply select the Test option.
  5. Wait for the progress bar to fill while a scan of your Mac’s hardware is performed. On newer Macs this usually takes at least a couple of minutes, but AHT can take a lot longer, especially if you chose extended testing.
    How to diagnose the “phantom cursor” issue on your mac

Once the scan is complete, a list of any potential hardware issues will appear on the screen or a “No issues found” message will be displayed. Note any issue reference codes before continuing.
How to diagnose the “phantom cursor” issue on your mac

  • To repeat the test, click Run test again. For more information about an issue, click Get Started. Otherwise you can click Restart or Shut Down to exit diagnostics.
  • If you click Get Started for more information about an issue that Apple Diagnostics has identified, your Mac will boot into macOS Recovery Mode and display a web page asking you to choose your country or region.

    Click Agree to send to send your serial number and reference codes to Apple, and follow the onscreen service and support instructions. You can also check any reference codes you noted down against Apple’s official code table for more information.

    Ever since I got my Mac My mouse will disappear every single time I go into a “fullscreen” state so when I exit out of fullscreen my cursor is no longer visible yet I can still move it around blindly and interact with things on the screen. Sometimes when I’m inactive and my screen is on for even less than 2 minutes my cursor disappears and poof, there it goes; invisible again! The only thing that I can do to fix it is to close my macbook and open it again and my cursor comes back but this is only a very short term fix and I’m looking for rather a solution instead of a fix.

    MacBook Pro 15”, macOS 10.14

    Posted on Jan 5, 2020 11:59 AM

    Helpful answers

    • Helpful answers
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    Okay thanks, but is there anything that I can directly do currently to fix this situation?

    Jan 5, 2020 12:06 PM

    There’s more to the conversation

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    “Your Apple-branded or Beats-branded hardware product (“Product”) is warranted against defects in materials and workmanship for a period of ONE (1) YEAR from the date of original retail purchase (“Warranty Period”) when used in accordance with Apple`s user manuals (refer to Under this warranty, you will be able to direct your claims to Apple even in situations where you purchased the Apple Product from a third party.” [Apple One (1) Year Limited Warranty – Accessory – For Apple and Beats Branded Products Only.]

    Jan 5, 2020 12:01 PM

    Okay thanks, but is there anything that I can directly do currently to fix this situation?

    Jan 5, 2020 12:06 PM

    Does this happen with only one specific app?

    Jan 5, 2020 12:07 PM

    A Troubleshooting Procedure that may Fix Problems with macOS El Capitan or Later

    You should try each, one at a time, then test to see if the problem is fixed before going on to the next.

    Be sure to backup your files before proceeding if possible.

    1. Shutdown the computer, wait 30 seconds, restart the computer.
    2. Disconnect all third-party peripherals.
    3. Resetting your Mac’s PRAM and NVRAM
    4. Reset the System Management Controller (SMC)
    5. Reset your Startup Disk and Sound preferences, if needed, after resetting the PRAM.
    6. Test in safe mode to see if the problem persists, then restart normally. Use safe mode to isolate issues with your Mac and Playing Safe – what does Safe mode do?
    7. Repair the diskby booting from the Recovery HD. Immediately after the chime hold down the Command and R keys until the Utility Menu appears. Choose Disk Utility and click on the Continue button. Select the indented (usually, Macintosh HD) volume entry from the side list. Click on the First Aid button in the toolbar. Wait for the Done button to appear. Quit Disk Utility and return to the Utility Menu. Restart the computer from the Apple Menu.
    8. Repair permissions on the Home folder: Resolve issues caused by changing the permissions of items in your home folder.
    9. Create a New User Account Open Users & Groups preferences. Click on the lock icon and enter your Admin password when prompted. On the left under Current User click on the Add [+] button under Login Options. Setup a new Admin user account. Upon completion log out of your current account then log into the new account. If your problems cease, then consider switching to the new account and transferring your files to it – Transferring files from one User Account to another.
    10. Reinstall OS X by booting from the Recovery HD using the Command and R keys. When the Utility Menu appears select Install OS X then click on the Continue button.
    11. Erase and Install OS X Restart the computer. Immediately after the chime hold down the Command and R keys until the Apple logo appears. When the Utility Menu appears:

    1. Select Disk Utility from the Utility Menu and click on the Continue button.

    2. When Disk Utility loads select the drive (out-dented entry) from the Device list.

    3. Click on the Erase button in Disk Utility’s toolbar. A panel will drop down.

    4. Set the Format type to APFS (for SSDs only) or Mac OS Extended (Journaled.)

    5. Click on the Apply button, then wait for the Done button to activate and click on it.

    6. Quit Disk Utility and return to the Utility Menu.

    7. Select Install OS X and click on the Continue button.

    My iMac randomly started suffering from Phantom cursor syndrome. Every time I boot up in normal mode (its fine in safe mode) the mouse moves to the upper left hand corner of the screen. I can still move the mouse however it constantly “floats” to the corner even as I move it. It doesnt happen in the log in screen, and it starts soon after the finder launches.

    An interesting bit I’ve discovered, is if I put it to sleep, the mouse is fine for about 10 seconds, and then it starts again.

    I know it’s not my mouse or other hardware, as I have bootcamp installed, and I didn’t get the same issue in windows. How do I fix this?

    PS: I’ve looked up various stuff on the internet, none of it seems to help. I’ve disabled everything I can think of.

    iMac, Mac OS X (10.6.8)

    Posted on Dec 26, 2011 7:25 PM

    All replies

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    Without knowing which mouse you are using we’re a little blind. If you are using a Mighty Mouse then the ball is probably just dirty and needs a good cleaning. How you do this in get a clean sheet of white paper and VERY VERY vigorously rub the ball on the paper for 30-60 seconds to clean it. If that doesn’t work or you have a Mighty Mouse then do both a SMC and PRAM resets. In fact it would be wise to do them each 2x.


    • Shut down the computer.
    • Unplug the computer’s power cord and all peripherals.
    • Wait 15 seconds.
    • Attach the computers power cable.
    • Wait another 5 seconds and press the power button to turn on the computer.


    • Shut down the computer.
    • Locate the following keys on the keyboard: Command, Option, P, and R. You will need to hold these keys down simultaneously in step 4.
    • Turn on the computer.
    • Press and hold the Command-Option-P-R keys. You must press this key combination before the gray screen appears.
    • Hold the keys down until the computer restarts and you hear the startup sound for the second time.
    • Release the keys.

    How to diagnose the “phantom cursor” issue on your mac

    Download and try Outbyte MacRepair right now to see what it can do for your Mac.

    Developed for macOS

    When your Mac does not start up, there could be a multitude of issues behind it. For that reason, we came up with these top 10 troubleshooting tips for a Mac to help resolve any problems.

    While most of us are fortunate enough to experience trouble-free years, working every day without issues, others run into problems keeping them from using their Macs. Well, if a Mac does not start up, that does not necessarily mean you can’t do anything about it. Yes, it can be a disaster, especially if you have a deadline to meet. But again, these Mac troubleshooting tips should help you diagnose the problem and fix it, or at least, prepare you ahead for any problems.

    1. Use Mac’s Safe Boot Option.

    One of the easiest and most straightforward methods to diagnose startup problems with Macs is to use the Safe Boot option. This method technically forces a Mac to start up with only the most important apps and programs required for startup. It scans your startup drive to make sure that everything is ready for booting.

    Follow the steps below to safe boot your Mac:

    1. Shut down your Mac.
    2. Turn it on by pressing the Power button and holding the Shift key.
    3. Wait for the Apple logo to appear.
    4. Once the login window shows up, you may release the Shift key and enter your login credentials.
    5. Sometimes, you will be asked to log in twice, especially if you enabled

    2. Reset your Mac’s NVRAM or PRAM.

    A PRAM or Parameter Random Access Memory holds the information needed for your Mac’s configuration, including the time and date, volume, mouse, desktop, and other control settings. Since it is powered by a tiny battery, most of the configurations won’t be deleted even if you turn off your Mac.

    Now, there are times when a Mac does not start up because there is a problem with the NVRAM or PRAM. To fix it, you simply have to reset it. Here’s how:

    1. Switch off your Mac.
    2. Press the power button while pressing the Option, Command, P, and R Hold them until the startup sound is heard twice.
    3. Release the keys.
    4. That’s it. You have successfully reset your Mac’s NVRAM.

    3. Reset your Mac’s System Management Controller.

    Most of your Mac’s basic hardware functions are controlled by the System Management Controller. That includes thermal management, how the power button works, and managing sleep mode. In cases when a Mac does not finish starting up or freezes while in the process of starting, sometimes, resetting the SMC fixes the problem.

    To reset Mac’s SMC, follow these steps:

    1. Go to the Apple menu and hit Shut Down.
    2. Unplug your Mac’s power cord and wait for 15 seconds before plugging it back in.
    3. Wait for 5 more seconds and press the Power button.
    4. You have successfully reset your Mac’s SMC.

    4. Reselect your Mac’s startup disk.

    If you see the dreaded flashing question mark on your screen while your Mac is starting up, you might have to reselect a startup disk under System Preferences. To do that, here’s what you should do:

    1. Open the Apple menu and choose System Preferences.
    2. Click Startup Disk.
    3. Select the icon of the disk you normally use when starting up your Mac. It’s often named Macintosh HD.
    4. Your Mac should now restart normally without the flashing question mark.

    5. Disconnect all your Mac’s external peripherals.

    The startup process of a Mac is indeed unpredictable. After pushing the Power button, sometimes, you’d see a gray screen. If your Mac gets stuck at the gray screen, know that there’ll be a bit of work ahead of you. However, one of the best ways to avoid this issue is to disconnect all your external peripherals. Here’s how:

    1. Press and hold the Power button to force shut down your Mac.
    2. Disconnect all the external peripherals connected to your Mac, excluding the display, mouse, and keyboard. Make sure you disconnect the headphones, audio in or out cables, and Ethernet cable.
    3. Restart your Mac.

    6. Repair blue screen problems.

    If you turn on your Mac and you get stuck at the blue screen, chances are, your startup drive might be having issues. Often, they can be fixed with Apple’s Disk Utility, but you can also use third-party apps, such as TechTool Pro, DiskWarrior, or Drive Genius. Since you won’t be able to start up your Mac successfully, you might need to boot from another drive or from a DVD install disk.

    7. Fix hard drive issues.

    Some startup problems are caused by drives that require minor repairs. To get a Mac with a damaged hard drive up and running again, you have to repair the drive, using third-party software. You can browse the web for software or tools you can use to diagnose and repair the hard drive.

    8. Create another user account to use in troubleshooting startup problems.

    Creating another user account that has admin access can help diagnose and troubleshoot Mac startup problems. The primary reason for creating a spare account is to have a unique set of extensions, user files, and preferences that could be loaded at startup. Just be sure you create an account before the problem occurs.

    9. Use Mac startup keyboard shortcuts.

    By using Mac startup keyboard shortcuts, you can change your Mac’s default behavior when starting up. You may start up using special modes, such as Single-User or Safe mode, both of which are handy for troubleshooting. With these shortcuts, you can also ask your Mac to guide you through the startup process so you will know which particular step it is failing.

    10. Fix installation problems, using OS X Combo updates.

    Other Mac startup problems are triggered by OS X updates that went wrong. OS X update failure usually happens when a power hiccup or a power outage occurs during the installation process. The result could be a corrupted system that does not boot or a system that is unstable.

    Which troubleshooting tip works best?

    Though Macs are known for their quality and stability, they are still computers, which means they are susceptible to errors and problems. Now, whatever it is that prevents your Mac from starting up correctly, these 10 troubleshooting tips should help get it working again. It does not matter which tip you use. As long as you follow it correctly, then any startup issue won’t stand a chance.

    While it does not actually get rid of Mac startup problems, installing Outbyte Mac Repair on your computer will make a difference. Not only will it improve your Mac’s performance, it will also keep your Mac free from junk files that may cause it to slow down and trigger other problems.

    Tom Limoncelli
    Site Reliability Engineering Manager at Stack Overflow

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    Director of Engineering at Elastic Cloud

    Roberta Arcoverde
    Principal Software Developer at Stack Overflow


    Connect and share knowledge within a single location that is structured and easy to search.

    The trackpad on my Macbook Pro just started acting oddly. It’s randomly clicking (which might cause me to switch programs), right-clicking and even once my screen even showed the swiping animation as if I was trying to switch to a different desktop.

    Part of me fears that this is some sort of joke hacking attempt (I know of a USB device you plug into someones computer and it randomly moves their mouse and types on their keyboard), but there is nothing plugged into my machine and I just turned off the Wi-Fi and watched as this web page tried to close, the mouse right clicked twice, highlighted a word and clicked “Paste and Match Style” in the Chrome right-click menu.
    Also as I’ve been typing (with my Wi-Fi turned off) the mouse has randomly been clicking inside this question and changing where I am typing.

    I just plugged in a USB mouse which seems to work fine but the trackpad is now nearly useless. I can’t even move the mouse cursor more than a few centimeters with it.

    Is this a common issue?
    I think it is dying actually. I can now click but not move at all with the trackpad, while a regular mouse works fine.
    EDIT 2
    And now it seems to be working again. I turned on the option for “Ignore Trackpad when Mouse is plugged in” under Universal Access. I cleaned the trackpad with rubbing alcohol, I whined and complained for a few minutes to my dog, turned off the “Ignore Trackpad” setting, unplugged the USB mouse, and the Trackpad appears to be working mostly normally.
    If I run my finger across it at the top or bottom portion of the mouse, it works, but there is a line horizontally across it (almost exactly where a physical trackpad button would end on the old trackpads) that is “dead”. The mouse stops moving, or moves sluggishly when hitting that spot and that “spot” goes across the whole trackpad.

    ‎03-16-2018 04:25 PM

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    I have a phantom cursor. I have updated drivers but the problem persists.

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    ‎03-17-2018 12:05 PM

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    Welcome to HP Forums,
    This is a great place to get support, find answers and tips to your technical queries.

    I understand that you are in need of support.

    Could you please help me with the exact product number and the operating system?

    Could you please brief the issue in detail to assist you with a better solution.

    Eagerly waiting for the reply,

    Have a great day!

    I am an HP Employee

    ‎03-17-2018 05:31 PM

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    ‎03-18-2018 11:05 AM

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    Thank you for replying with the information.

    As @Raj1788 is out of the office today, I’m replying to you.

    I have read your post comprehensively and understand that the cursor jumps around the screen. You’ve done a remarkable job performing the steps.

    Let us initiate a hardware test on the touchpad cursor. The following steps will help:

      Shutdown the laptop.

    Turn on the laptop and immediately press Esc repeatedly, about once every second. When the menu appears, press the F2 key.

    On the main menu, click Component Tests.

    Figure : Selecting Component Tests from the main menu

    How to diagnose the “phantom cursor” issue on your mac

    The Component Tests menu displays. Your Component Tests menu might be different, depending on the components installed on your computer.

    Figure : Sample list of Component Tests

    How to diagnose the “phantom cursor” issue on your mac

    Mouse/Touchpad Tests – There are two mouse tests to determine if the mouse is functioning correctly – the Pointer Test and the Drag and Drop Test.

    To run the tests, click Mouse/Touchpad. Select the test you want to run, and then click Run once. Follow the instructions to complete the test.

    NOTE : If the touchpad fails the test then it indicates towards a hardware issue. In such a case please contact our HP phone support team by clicking here and check the available service options for your laptop,

    However, if the touchpad test passes then let us continue with the following steps:

    • Open the device manager.
    • Expand “Mice and other pointing devices.”
    • Right click on the touchpad drivers in there and select uninstall.
    • Close the device manager and restart the laptop.
    • Once Windows has restarted, please download and install the Synaptics TouchPad Driver via this link .

    I sincerely hope this fixes the issue. Please feel free to let me know how it goes. I’ll be glad to assist you.