Your theme can also include custom mouse pointers (or mouse cursors as they are also referred to). You can download mouse pointers or create your own (as you can icons).
The problem with mouse pointers is that they have to be functional. Think how much you use the mouse in Windows. Having an extremely odd-shaped mouse pointer can be more of a problem than an enhancement to the GUI. We discuss downloading and creating mouse pointers in Chapter 10 For now, let's take a look at how you change the default mouse pointers and apply them to the theme you are creating.
Select the Start menu and then click the Control Panel icon. In the Control Panel, click Appearance and Themes. In the See Also box on the left of the Appearance and Themes window, click Mouse Pointers.
The Mouse Properties dialog box opens. Click the Pointers tab of the dialog box (see Figure 4.13).
Figure 4.13. The Pointers tab of the Mouse Properties dialog box.
You have two options for changing the default pointers: a new scheme or changing each pointer. To select a new theme (Windows XP provides a number of pointer schemes), click the Scheme drop-down list and select a new scheme. The new pointers appear in the Customize box. You can use the new scheme or change individual pointers as needed.
Now, let's say you want to change each pointer (to pointers you have downloaded or created) and then want to save the new set of pointers as a scheme. First, to change the various default mouse pointers, click a mouse pointer in the Customize box and then click Browse. The Browse dialog box opens to the Windows\Cursors folder. This folder contains several pointers that you can use to customize the default pointers (including a set of dinosaur pointers).
To browse in a folder other than the Windows\Cursors folder, use the Look in drop-down box to locate the drive and the folder that holds your cursors. Cursors can come in two file types: .cur or .ani. The .ani extension is used for animated cursors (a subject covered in Chapter 10).
Select the replacement cursor you want to use, and then click the Open button. You are returned to the Pointers tab of the Mouse Properties dialog box, and your new pointer is shown in the Customize box (see Figure 4.14). Because I am creating a cat theme, my Normal Select cursor is now a cat cursor I created.
Figure 4.14. The replacement pointer is displayed in the Pointers tab's Customize box.
You might want to click the Apply button after changing a mouse pointer, particularly the Normal Select pointer. This enables you to immediately begin using the new pointer. If the pointer doesn't seem to work very well (meaning it is hard to find where to place it on a item when you click), you can repeat the process and browse for a different pointer.
Select each of the default pointers you want to replace and repeat the process of browsing for and then opening the replacement cursor. When you have completed changing the default pointers, save your pointer scheme.
Click the Save As button. Type in a name for the pointer scheme and then click OK. Your pointer scheme is displayed in the Schemes drop-down box.
When you have finished working in the Mouse Properties dialog box, click OK. Then click the Back button on the Appearance and Themes window's toolbar. This takes you back to the Control Panel. Now that you have taken care of the mouse pointers for your new theme, it's time to create a sound scheme for the theme.