Changing the mouse pointer shape in terminal.

Luke Nath lukenath at
Sun Feb 2 03:16:44 UTC 2014

> Subject: Re: Changing the mouse pointer shape in terminal.
> From: ignored_mailbox at
> To: users at
> Date: Sun, 2 Feb 2014 01:01:18 +1030
> Allegedly, on or about 30 January 2014, Luke Nath sent:
> > How do I change the mouse pointer shape in mate-terminal
> > or gnome-terminal , from the fleur to a left pointing arrow head? 
> To attempt that, you're going to have to fight against the system which
> uses long-standing conventions of altering the mouse pointer to indicate
> what sorts of things it can do with where it's currently placed:
>       * I-beam pointer shape - you can copy text under the pointer into
>         a buffer, or click into that space and type into it (the text
>         isn't read-only).
>       * Arrow pointer - what's under the mouse can be moved (dragged),
>         or selected (clicked on).
>       * Hand pointer - what's under the mouse can be followed as a link
>         (e.g. links to internet addresses in webpages and emails).
>       * Busy-indicator - You can't currently do something with the mouse
>         (could be anything, or just what's under the mouse), because
>         some other process needs to complete, first.
> And that's just the four that spring to mind, at the moment.  There may
> be others.
> If you try and take away that functionality, you turn reading various
> things into guessing games of what's just readable text, and what could
> be interacted with, because you've taken away the mouse pointer hints,
> and authors keep on taking away the hints that the user-agents provide
> to indicate the type of page content (e.g. webpages where the links
> aren't coloured, nor underlined).  It becomes a game of hovering over
> things, trying to find links.  Or randomly clicking on things, in the
> hopes that you can find the link.
> If you really want to do that - and I've never seen anyone argue that
> point with sensible justifications - look into how to customise the
> shape of the mouse cursor, and use the same image for each type of
> function.

Thank you for a very lucid explanation.
In gnome-terminal or mate-terminal, I have never seen the pointer shape
become anything but the I beam. I use mostly vi or cat or more or less
or type scripts. These are pretty much the text apps I use.
In all of these "commands", the shape remains the I beam.
Is there a way to change it to a left pointer just in the mate or
gnome terminal?

P.S: I recall that I used to be able to set it to left ptr in Xterm when
I used to use BSD Unix.

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