Strange Cursor Artifact in Firefox

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Posted on June 04, 2006 1:57 PM in Browsers
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

I'm currently using Firefox 1.5.0.4, and lately I've been noticing a strange cursor artifact quite often. I'm not sure why it shows up, but it seems pretty random and comes and goes as it pleases. The last time I saw it was when I was writing up an email in Gmail:

Screenshot of Firefox Cursor Artifact

It's a minor annoyance, sure, but it's an annoyance nonetheless. I tried looking for a Bugzilla bug on it, but didn't find one right off the bat. I did, however, find some discussion on the artifact over at MozillaZine, relating mostly to RTL languages. However, I'm not convinced this is the cause of the problem.

Comments

Ryan on June 05, 2006 at 1:23 AM:

I see that all the time though not now, it seems. I found it about 20% annoying -- I wish it were not there, but its not anything I'd blog about :-).

I'll keep my eyes open for it and any possible reasons for its existene.

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Bernie Zimmermann on June 05, 2006 at 7:19 PM:

I have a nasty habit of blogging about all things Firefox, large or small.

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Mr. Ignition on June 06, 2006 at 12:31 PM:

I've seen that so many times and always thought it was my 'puter. Good to know that I'm not secretly going insane. :-)

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Chris on June 17, 2006 at 3:56 PM:

I see it in Firefox on both my Mac and Windows machines, and I had to Google "gmail firefox cursor" to find your blog entry. Jeez, I hope either Gmail or Firefox gets this fixed. It's not crazy-making but it is occasionally distracting.

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Fell on June 29, 2006 at 9:14 AM:

Press F7 to disable or enable caret blinking.

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Scott on July 10, 2006 at 5:44 PM:

That weird cursor doesn't seem to be limited just to any particular websites. I'm getting it in the comment section of my own blog, and I've seen it at many different websites, including a web app I'm developing at work. It's not so annoying as to impede productiveness, but it's one of those things that gets under your skin, so to speak.

BTW, I've never been to your blog before, but I love your logo -- great use of typography!

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Bernie Zimmermann on July 10, 2006 at 10:46 PM:

Scott, couldn't have said it better myself (regarding the annoyance). I wonder if the issue's still around in the beta of Firefox 2.0 that came out yesterday.

Thanks for the compliment regarding my logo.

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Melissa on October 09, 2006 at 5:51 PM:

I find this a HUGE HUGE HUGE annoyance. My curser blinks at a crazy rate and seems to just input text wherever it chooses. To prove the point I am using windows but I will copy your link and repost in Firefox. It's positively insane.
My issue is that for my job I the Firefox works better or should I say it did before I upgraded. LOL

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Johal on October 25, 2006 at 12:06 PM:

Still appears in 2.0 (find it about 15.7% annoying ;-)
/Johal

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jeffrey on October 27, 2006 at 3:09 PM:

This bothers me as well. BTW, I always see it on the wikipedia, can someone confirm?

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Ryan on November 20, 2006 at 6:57 PM:

I just found out that this is called caret browsing, and its a simple fix by hitting F7!

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Nathan Brauer on November 21, 2006 at 1:37 AM:

I've seen it... does it have any correlation to FireFox's version "AutoComplete" maybe?
I don't find it annoying at all. It's just a cursor. I only find it annoying when it doesn't show the cursor at all.

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Pete on December 11, 2006 at 7:25 AM:

This is not caret browsing. Caret browsing involves using the cursor to highlight within a web page. This occurs even with the address and search bars of Firefox. Has no one found the cause or solution? I find this terribly annoying.

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Ian Bonner on January 30, 2007 at 4:23 PM:

I know this sounds nuts but I've noticed that this cursor shows up when I search for items that are related to terrorism. Like if I do a google search for "arabic" the next time I search I have the weird cursor. If I search for something harmless, like bunnies, it goes away. Then if I search for Saddam it's back again.

Someone else try this out and see if I'm just crazy. It only happens in firefox, not IE.

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Bernie Zimmermann on January 30, 2007 at 9:27 PM:

Ian, what you're seeing could just be a coincidence based on the point that was raised in my original post about RTL languages. If the "terrorist" or "Saddam" searches you're performing result in the display of those types of languages, it might explain why the cursor changes.

I still have no clue what the significance of the cursor change is, though.

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Dan on February 11, 2007 at 5:04 AM:

I've been wondering about this for ages too! Here's the explanation:

It will appear in the text boxes of a page that mixes left-to-right and right-to-left scripts. For example, wikipedia.

The dot on the cursor indicates the direction the caret will move in the current text box (which depends on the script direction). I imagine this is useful to people who work in a mixture of RTL or LTR languages.

Source: http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?t=331120

...and, indeed, someone on that page has added Arabic and Hebrew text to one of the posts, so the search box on the right now shows the dot.

I have no idea whether there's a bug to remove the marker on people's systems that don't use BiDi languages.

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Bernie Zimmermann on February 11, 2007 at 9:33 AM:

Dan, thanks for the very insightful follow-up on the matter. It definitely makes more sense now, especially the part about the left- and right-facing glyphs depending upon the direction of the language.

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Ryan on February 13, 2007 at 5:33 PM:

So its a feature, not a bug. Hmmm... annoying feature.

As always Bernie, thanks for having the site that attracts the people that know what they're talking about :-)

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Chris on April 14, 2007 at 12:13 PM:

Old thread I know, but change about:config Bidi.support to 3 and it should go away

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Michael on April 25, 2007 at 7:15 AM:

I get the vanishing cursor, works fine on one asp.net page, on the next not. The issue is in a div/panel that is exactly the same on both pages. No foreign languages, nothing out of the ordinary. Very annoying to users.

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reda on May 08, 2007 at 10:25 AM:

what about your support

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Bob on June 19, 2007 at 3:06 PM:

Dan-

Thanks for the clarification!! Someone here at work thought it was some sort of keylogger working. Good to know we're not going insane!

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Carina Stumpf on June 21, 2007 at 1:09 AM:

Thx a LOT! This has been bothering me for weeks...

I have two almost identical instances of the same web app but the cursor problem appears only in one of them. "Identical" *except* for the supported languages that are listed in a drop down and one of them includes arabic... never would have thought about that :-)

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Ben Ramsey on July 03, 2007 at 10:31 AM:

Setting accessibility.browsewithcaret to false fixes the issue for me!

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Kyle on August 05, 2007 at 2:34 PM:

The default value of accessibility.browsewithcaret is already false. I've also tried setting bidi.support to 3 (as per the instructions in one of the commments above) and that didn't work either (with Firefox 2.0.0.6). Does anyone know how to turn this annoying thing off?

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CoLT on April 11, 2008 at 3:50 AM:

Hi,

Finding first Arabic site in Google - http://www.aljazeera.net and still cursor is showing to right although you are writing to left (LTR). Maybe someone has found cure for this nonsense?

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phpuser on April 13, 2008 at 4:05 PM:

In about:config change bidi.support to 0 (not 3 as mentioned above)

Restart FF

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Tim on May 03, 2008 at 12:28 AM:

Above commenter's fix doesn't work.

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Amac on June 20, 2008 at 2:49 PM:

F7 worked for me. When I hit it again, it asked me if I wanted "Carat Browsing" turned on. That's the solution. Thanks!

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Shelly on October 28, 2008 at 10:53 PM:

Hello, I want to weigh in on the dot because I first noticed it two years ago when doing google searches. Now I notice it a lot, mostly through Google sites. I think it is generated by Google and has nothing to do with operating systems or browsers, because I have used them all and it doesn't matter. It shows up randomly. It is not here on this site, for instance, but does seem to show up when doing a search. For that reason I thought maybe it was an NSA or DHS spy or bot of some type. If anyone knows for sure please let us know. I got so paranoid about it I stopped using Google for awhile.

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Michael on December 13, 2008 at 5:09 PM:

I have this weird bug in Firefox 3.0.4 that acts like Microsoft Word. I can click anywhere on a web page, and it will show the blinking cursor that is used for typing. I can't type anything there of course, but it just annoys me.

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jacob on July 29, 2009 at 8:11 AM:

it's called caret browsing. press F7 and it should go away.

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Josh P. on October 10, 2009 at 2:04 PM:

I have this dot thing when using Thunderbird V20.0.0.23 email program. The explanation that it's caused by RTL and LTR in the same page makes sense to me, but none of the above fixes have worked. It goes away if I reboot the program and reappears when an email containing Arabic or Hebrew comes in.

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Etamar L. on October 25, 2009 at 4:51 AM:

I see this is a very old post (3 years old), but none of the answers were accurate. So here's a try to explain what's going on:

WHY DOES IT SHOW A LITTLE TRIANGLE AT THE TOP? This is simply to indicate the direction of writing. For people installing multi-lingual versions of their operating system (Windows or Mac OS), it is built in. For people with only one language installed (English, for example), it will start showing the triangle on web-pages that have mixed input OR allow (!!) mixed input in various languages. Think Flickr, Google and Yahoo! (in some of the pages).

DOES IT EVER CHANGE? Yes. When you are typing in a Right-To-Left language, the cursor immediately shows you which language are you in (Hebrew, for example, will indicate the triangle to the LEFT of the cursor bar, indicating you are going to type with glyphs to the left of the cursor.

CAN I REMOVE IT? I ONLY TYPE IN ENGLISH! Unfortunately no, until someone at Microsoft, Apple, Google or the Firefox folks decide it's a worthwhile feature to address. Some of the fixes above work, depending on the exact OS + Browser configuration you will use (there are hundreds, so no one "solution"...)

BTW, this is not considered a bug. It's a usability & accessability feature that users writing RTL languages are familiar with for roughly 20 years. It does not affect your writing, unless you see it blinking with a triangle to the left of the bar, which means you switched to an RTL language... ;-)

See more at http://ask.metafilter.com/39501/Whats-going-on-with-my-Gmail-cursor

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hede on November 17, 2009 at 9:13 AM:

if you wanna get rid of it, remove the hebrew or arabic or whatever exotic keyboard setting in your region and preferences settings.

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