Linda’s story demonstrates that a simple change to a user’s computer setup can make a big difference. Linda is a woman who had a brain injury a number of years ago. The injury left her with significant physical difficulties in walking, speaking, and using her hands. She uses a Windows computer for all kinds of tasks, with the typical keyboard and mouse.
Although Linda uses a standard mouse, it’s not easy for her, as she often overshoots the target, and bounces back and forth a few times before settling on the button or field that she’s trying to click. Read on to see how KPR’s Pointing Wizard software made it much easier and faster for Linda to control her mouse.
Before and after videos
These videos are short, but hopefully will give you a sense of Linda’s mouse control. This first one is Linda’s original setup, the one she had used for years. It’s just a typical mouse using the standard settings within Windows. Her task here is to click on the Name field on a form (indicated with a large red arrow in the video). The mouse cursor has a yellow circle around it in the video, as well as a gray trail to show the path of the mouse. (Sometimes those visual cues are hard to see, when the cursor moves too fast, but hopefully there’s enough there that you can see how much back-and-forth movement was needed to get the cursor into that Name field.)
The second video is the same task, after Linda used our Pointing Wizard software and let it customize her Windows mouse settings for her needs. Here we see the cursor move smoothly to the field in one motion, nice and controlled.
Hopefully it’s clear from the videos that the new settings recommended by Pointing Wizard enabled much better control of the mouse for Linda. Linda was kind enough to let us collect detailed data on her mouse performance, and we found that the new settings allowed her to select targets 60% faster, with 65% fewer target entries. So this was a fairly simple intervention, taking only a few minutes, but one that had a definitely positive effect.
How does Pointing Wizard work?
Pointing Wizard is a free Windows program developed by KPR. Just download it, then run it. It walks you through several steps to determine if there are changes to the Windows mouse settings that may make it faster and easier to use the mouse. It works for other pointing devices, such as trackballs, trackpads, and joysticks, too. The whole process takes only a few minutes.
In Linda’s case, the main thing she needed to improve her control of the mouse cursor was to decrease the sensitivity, what Windows calls the Pointer Speed setting. The default setting of 10 was too sensitive, and after collecting data on her mouse movements, Pointing Wizard recommended a setting of 2. With Linda’s permission, it then activated that setting for her use.
Can I adjust my settings without Pointing Wizard?
You don’t need Pointing Wizard for this customization process, but it does make it easier and more effective. It is possible to adjust the mouse settings yourself within Windows, by navigating through the tabs in the Mouse Properties window. The screenshot below shows the tab used to adjust the Pointer Speed.
So manual adjustment is possible, but it’s somewhat cumbersome and time-consuming, especially when adjusting more than one setting. Perhaps more importantly, it’s hard to know exactly what the right value should be. That’s where Pointing Wizard comes in, as it will recommend the best setting for each of 6 different mouse settings, based on data collected during a simple pointing task.
Keep in mind that Pointing Wizard only addresses the question of whether the current mouse settings are right for your needs. It doesn’t help you understand whether another type of pointing device altogether might give you better performance than the one you’ve been using. For that sort of question, you may want to look at our Compass software for access assessment.
How can I try Pointing Wizard?
Pointing Wizard is completely free to use, so if you’re curious about whether it might help you or someone you know, just give it a try. Please let us know how it goes! Learn more at kpronline.com/ptwiz.
We conducted several studies on Pointing Wizard, which are described in the citations below. See our Publications page for other KPR research as well.
Koester HH, Mankowski J. (2014). Automatic Adjustment of Mouse Settings to Improve Pointing Performance. Assistive Technology, 26(3): 119-128.
Koester HH, Simpson R, Mankowski J. (2013). Software Wizards to Adjust Keyboard and Mouse Settings for People with Physical Impairments . Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, 36(4): 300-12.