9 Types of Pointing Devices

Would you like to know about pointing devices, different types of pointing devices, their functions, and also how these devices can work? Let’s read the topic and you will find out all the answers.

Pointing Devices:

An input device used to control a pointer on the screen is called a pointing device. A pointer is a small symbol that appears on the screen in a graphical user interface. Different shapes of a pointer are available.

Types of Pointing Devices

Different types of pointing devices are as follows:

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  • Mouse
  • Trackball
  • Touchpad/ Trackpad
  • Pointing Stick
  • Graphics Tablet
  • Touchscreen
  • Light Pen
  • Joystick
  • Stylus



A mouse is a small, lightweight input device. The mouse is moved on a flat surface to control the movement of the cursor on a screen. A mouse usually has two or three buttons. These buttons are used to do various tasks.

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Different types of a mouse are as follows:

  • Mechanical Mouse
  • Optical Mouse
  • Wireless Mouse

Mechanical Mouse

pointing devices

Mechanical mouse encloses a rubber or metal ball in it. The movement of the cursor depends on the movement of the ball. This mouse is normally used on a mouse pad. A mouse pad is a small pad made of rubber or foam to provide easy movement for the mouse. It also protects the mouse from dust and dirt.

Optical Mouse

pointing devices

An optical mouse contains no ball inside it. It uses a device that emits light to detect the mouse movement. An optical sensor or laser is used in these types of mouses.  Furthermore,  It is more costly than a mechanical mouse.

Wireless Mouse

pointing devices

A wireless or cordless mouse is a type of mouse that does not require a wire to work. It transmits data using wireless technology like radio waves or infrared light waves.


A trackball can also be used as an alternative to a mouse. This device also has buttons similar to those on a mouse.

It holds a large moving ball on the top. The body of the trackball is not moved. The ball is rolled with fingers. The position of the cursor on the screen is controlled by rotating the ball.

pointing devices

The main benefit of the trackball over a mouse is that it takes less space to move. The trackball is often included in laptop computers.  The standard desktop computer also uses a trackball operated as a separate input device.

Touchpad/ Trackpad

A touchpad is a small, plain surface over which the user moves his finger. The user controls the movement of the cursor on the screen by moving his fingers on the touchpad. It is also known as a trackpad.

pointing devices

A touchpad also has one or more buttons near it.  These buttons work like mouse buttons. Touchpads are commonly used with notebook computers.

Pointing Stick

pointing devices

A pointing stick is a pressure-sensitive device. It is similar to a pencil eraser and exits between keys on the keyboard. When the user pushes the pointing stick, the pointer on the screen also moves. It demands no extra space or cleaning like a mouse.  A pointing stick is normally used with notebook computers.

Graphics Tablet

pointing devices

A graphics tablet consists of a flat pad on which the user draws with a special pen called a stylus. The image is created on the screen as the user draws on the pad. A designer can produce very accurate drawings using a graphics tablet. It is also called a digitizer.


pointing devices

The touchscreen is a video display screen that receives input from the touch of a finger. The screen is covered with a plastic layer. There are undetectable beams of infrared light at the back of the screen. In order to enter data, the user touches icons or menus on the screen. Most touchscreen computers use sensors to detect the touch of a finger.

Light Pen

pointing devices

A light pen is a hand-held pen-like device. It is a light-sensitive stylus. The light pen is connected by a wire to the computer. It has a device at the tip that emits light. The pen sends information to the computer when a user touches the pen on certain areas of a specially designed screen. A light pen I usually used by engineers, graphics designers, and illustrators.


pointing devices

A joystick consists of a base and a stick. The stick can be moved in several directions to shift an object anywhere on the computer screen. A joystick can perform a similar function to a mouse or trackball. It is often considered less comfortable and efficient. The most common use of a joystick is for playing computer games.


pointing devices

The stylus is similar to a ballpoint pen. It uses pressure to write text and draw lines. It was also called a pen. A stylus is used in graphical applications. Architects, artists, and designers use it to create drawings and sketches.

Functions Of Pointing Devices

The function of a pointing device is to interact with a computer or other type of information processing equipment. The pointing devices are used to communicate with processing units.

Computer pointing devices are used to perform some of the following tasks: entering alphanumeric content, moving the cursor around the screen, and entering data through voice or images.

Examples Of Pointing Devices

Digital Pens

They provide the ability to engage in writing and drawing naturally. It allows artists to precisely control line thickness by varying the pressure.

They are usually used as part of CAD (Computer-Aided Design), where you need to draw precisely on the screen.

Voice Recognition Systems

It is suitable for dictation as well as direct program control. A microphone is used to pick up voice commands, a voice analyzer to determine the spoken words, and an analyzer to determine the meaning of the command.

Motion Sensors And Cameras

They provide users with the ability to control computers with gestures and body movements. They use multiple sensors to track the wearer’s movements and also map facial features.

Biometric Sensors

They provide greater security for the computer. This technology can make it extremely difficult for unauthorized users to gain access to protected computer systems.

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