When I try to search for this problem I get many results, but most of them seem to be about mouse cursor themes, and I haven't played with that, and can't see how that could explain the symptoms I see.

When the mouse cursor is over a window from thunderbird, firefox or a (group) chat from pidgin, the mouse cursor is 2-4 times the usual size, that it has when over windows with xterm, liferea, pavucontrol, audacious or the friend list from pidgin (I think that's everything I have running right now). The exception being if pidgins task bar menu is open, then the cursor is the usual (small) size, no matter which window the cursor is in.

I use i3 as window manager with no desktop manager on debian Stretch (but I only upgraded a couple of days ago, and also saw the problem on Jessie).

Any explanation (and cure) or just hints to how I find out what is wrong.

  • Were you able to solve this? I'm experiencing the same issue on a new monitor.
    – bvx89
    Aug 21, 2018 at 13:27
  • No, still living with it - and occasionally throwing some words into a search engine to try to find a solution. - Sorry. Aug 21, 2018 at 15:07
  • I have the same problem, and I'm also using i3, but on Ubuntu. Maybe it has something to do with i3? It also only recently occurred, having worked fine previously.
    – L3viathan
    Sep 9, 2019 at 7:40

3 Answers 3


I just discovered that the problem is actually not window-related, but widget(?)-related, the huge cursor doesn't occur when it's over pidgin chat windows (as I wrote), but only when it's over one of the text fields (which takes up most of those windows, which probably explains why I didn't realise that before), either the one I can use to type messages into or the one where messages appear.

The mouse cursor is actually also "small" (sanely sized) when over the title bar of windows. In addition I can add Chromium and Spotify (but I think I read somewhere that new versions of spotify is mostly a camouflaged chromium) is also on the list of programs that cause the huge cursor.

That all made me think that maybe this is might be due to a question of (a poor) mouse cursor theme and a fallback (that looks better) when the mouse is over some kind of window that doesn't cooperate with the parts of gnome that still infects my systems to produce the huge mouse cursor, which also explains why bvx89 reported in a comment that he saw this on a new monitor. That made me search the net for "linux mouse cursor DPI", which made me find Cursor is huge on Ubuntu due to high resolution monitor, which actually seems to be the same problem, reversed (he reports a huge cursor over "system-dependant things" and not over firefox). But his solution (i.e. selecting a cursor/icon-theme with only one size - which is non-standard but you can download https://github.com/codecat/dmzblack-96dpi that he refers to) worked for me, now my mouse cursor has the same (sane) size everywhere.


I had a similar issue in XFCE (Gentoo). The mouse cursor was big in Terminal and some other windows, but it was small / normal in other windows. Changing the cursor theme did not help.

But changing of the cursor size did help. It seems to me, that the cursor size was not set properly (or not set at all), but the settings window showed some value. When I changed the value for the first time, the cursor size started to be consistent in all windows - even when I went back to the original value.

Mouse and Touchpad settings window


This answer might be identical, somewhere in the background, to what @eNCA proposed.

I had this problem for a very long time, on I3 and Debian.

Today I tried to add

Xcursor.size: 8

to my ~/.Xdefaults, reloaded with by running

xrdb -load .Xdefaults
i3-msg restart

(Note that this I3's restart is clean and safe, ie. does not close any windows or kill any running apps.)

I intentionally chose such a tiny size to be able to see the difference more clearly. The actual cursor I got is about 19 pixels long--I tend to exaplain this to myself that that's just the smallest bitmap available (no 8x8 bitmaps nowadays...? :D).

i3 parts such as window titles and i3bar were affected immediately.

With regards to window contents, the "obedience" seems to depend on the app:

  • chromium, slack (.deb build) and pavucontrol were affected immediately (meaning, after the above commands).

  • firefox, telegram (flatpak build) and qutebrowser needed to be restarted.

  • a special case -- Signal (flatpak build) obeyed immediately but it seems to use different bitmap, which is actually less than 19 pixel and a bit different shape

Thanks to people on oftc.net/#i3 for suggestions!

  • I haven't been able to find anything looking like the dialog eNca show (probably because I don't use the same software as he does), so his post is kinda worthless to me, so even if this is really identical, it's much better. Feb 21 at 14:44
  • Come on, "worthless" is a strong word. :-) I think he uses the standard XFCE settings dialog. (That's my guess, as someone who used XFCE a lot in the past.) Feb 25 at 9:59

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