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Coming across this handy CSS Cursor tool I wondered: why are the CSS cursor types other than default, pointer and text so rare on the web? Even most web applications don't go further than these three plus perhaps cursors for moving and grabbing.

  • That site seems to only cover CSS2 keywords for the cursor property. CSS UI 3 has more, including potentially useful zoom-in/zoom-out, but no ‘zoom-fullscreen’ or ‘zoom-originalsize’ or ‘pointer-opensnewtaborwindow’. – Crissov Dec 14 '15 at 12:07
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    default, pointer and text. Then you have one more used cursor than most desktop applications. If I don't need it I would refrain to learn meaning of fancy cursors, random icons bother me enough... – Adriano Repetti Dec 14 '15 at 14:31
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    Personally, I never use them mainly because I didn't know half of those existed as CSS options. Combine that with the fact that I rarely have to use them (I think disabled is the only one I touch sometimes). Most plugins such as jQuery UI Resizable comes with the cursor CSS built in so I always assumed it was some sort of browser default implementation. – DasBeasto Dec 14 '15 at 14:46
  • Changing the cursor is irritating unless it's for a specific purpose, and increasingly irrelevant on touch devices. – pjc50 Dec 15 '15 at 11:11
  • To show your user exotic cursor types you must first be sure that they already know them, else you don't. Thus, they don't see those fancy pointers and they don't learn them. You need somebody else to teach your users about them :-) – Juan Lanus Dec 15 '15 at 20:27
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I think you've answered your own question.

The special cursors demonstrated on that web site are rarely needed, whether in a browser or outside of one. Of the 31 cursors, 14 of them are for resizing elements, which isn't really a common task.

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    The lifehacker network of sites uses crosshair when hovering images. I'm not so sure I like that decision but hey, what do I know. – MikeTheLiar Dec 14 '15 at 22:04
  • @mikeTheLiar That's caused by their image-commenting plugin (I don't know its name), so that the crosshair is for aiming at the exact point in which you insert your comment. I always intended it like this, anyway – Damien Pirsy Dec 15 '15 at 11:03
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I see Progress and Help used fairly regularly.

Other than that, the rest of them are mostly situational... there's no need to use them out of specific tasks and environments.

Using cursors where not absolutely necessary violates the rule of don't confuse your users, ever. If you can use a normal cursor, do.

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"Default", "Pointer" and "Text" are defaults in browsers.

Others we forget to specify for developer — because we paint static images. But if we work with interaction our-self, we will remember to use "Not available" cursor for disabled elements for example.

2

In most cases the cursor primarily is to SELECT, POINT or CLICK. Extra actions such as GRAB, CROSSHAIRS are handy for other more specific type applications like picture uploads, crop and resizing.

Upload image resizing

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