I got a new laptop with a much higher screen resolution than I've ever had, 2560x1440 pixels. I'm using i3 window manager, and Arch linux current xterm (version 386-1, but that might be just the package version).

The xterm fonts and mount pointer (not the text cursor, not the X11 default cursor, the xterm mouse pointer) are way too small, verging on invisible.

I had to run up the xterm font size, and I got the X11 default mouse pointer bigger with an X resource. For the life of me, I can't make the xterm mouse pointer bigger. When I mouse over any xterm window, the mouse pointer goes from a large arrow to a tiny, tiny arrow.

How do I change xterm's mouse pointer size?

Just to for reference, here are my current X resources relating to this:

XTerm*cursorColor: orange
XTerm*pointerColor: red
XTerm*pointerColorBackground: red
XTerm*pointerShape: left_ptr
XTerm*faceName: Monospace
XTerm*faceSize: 18
Xcursor.size: 64

Note that I resized the default X11 mouse pointer with Xcursor.size, but this doesn't affect the xterm mouse pointer: it uses a different one, somehow.

Leaving XTerm*pointerShape to default makes it a microscopic I-beam shape when mousing over a xterm window. I'm currently compensating for the tiny tiny on-screen mouse pointer by coloring it red, and giving it a red outline.

  • @Quasímodo - thank you, but no! That's the default X11 mouse pointer, not the xterm mouse pointer. I've already changed the default mouse pointer's size using the Xcursor.size resource, as per my listed X resources. Apparently xterm keeps it's own X mouse pointer, which is what I'm trying to resize.
    – user732
    Aug 2, 2021 at 20:56
  • 1
    There's no "version 386-1" (yet). You might find reading the XCursor manpage helpful, as well as the discussion of the cursorTheme resource. Setting the size really depends on what you have installed, hence no one can tell you exactly what to set. Aug 2, 2021 at 21:37

1 Answer 1


Based on xterm's own Thomas Dickey's comment, I did this on my Arch linux laptop:

$ pacman -S xcursor-themes

This gave me a directory /usr/share/icons/Adwaita (among other new directories) which contained a cursors/ subdirectory.

I changed my .Xresources file to contain this:

XTerm*pointerShape: left_ptr
XTerm*cursorTheme: Adwaita
XTerm*faceName: Monospace
XTerm*faceSize: 18
! Large cursor for 4K screen Dell E7470
Xcursor.size: 64

I ran xrdb -load .Xresources, and the next xterm window I opened had a sensibly-sized cursor, one that matches the 64x64 default cursor.

The XTerm*cursorTheme: Adwaita seems to allow the Xcursor.size: 64 to get the xterm windows to use a 64x64 mouse pointer image. The /usr/share/icons/Adwaita/cursors/left_ptr X11 cursor file has a 64x64 pixel cursor in it. I did install the Arch xcur2png package to convert the Adwaita-theme left_ptr file into PNGs. Adwaita/cursors/left_ptr contains many icon bitmaps. One of them ends up as a 64x64 PNG when xcur2png acts on it.

I answer my own question with enough info so that others can have a bigger hint about how to proceed on this issue than I did. I award myself no points, and may God have mercy on my soul.

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