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What is a Pointing Device? | Types of Pointing Devices

July 31, 2022

Input devices used to control a pointer on the screen are known as pointing devices. A pointer is a small symbol that appears on the screen in the graphical user interface

Types of pointing devices

There are different types of pointing devices.


The mouse is a popular pointing device. It is used to enter instructions with a pointer on the screen Mouse is moved on a flat surface to control the movement of the cursor or pointer on the screen.

 A mouse generally has two or three buttons. These buttons are used to perform different tasks such as selecting an object or opening a program etc. It may also include a wheel to scroll through long documents.

image showing the mouse and parts

Types of Mouse

Different types of the mouse are as follows

Mechanical Mouse

A mechanical mouse has a rubber or metal ball inside it to move the cursor. The cursor movement depends on the movement of the ball. This mouse is generally used on the mouse pad. A mouse pad is a small pad of rubber or foam to supply easy movement of the mouse. It secures the mouse from dust and dirt.

image showing the Mechanical mouse
Optical Mouse

The 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 mice. It is more expensive than a mechanical mouse Optical mouse is becoming popular nowadays.

Wireless/Cordless Mouse

The wireless or cordless mouse is a type of mouse that does not need a wire to perform its functions. It transmits data through wireless technology like radio waves or infrared light waves.

image showing the wireless mouse
Air Mouse

The Air mouse is a motion-sensing mouse. It can be used to control objects, media players, and slide shows by moving the mouse in specific directions through the air.

For example, the user can raise the mouse to up the volume of the different media players. The air mouse works in the air by detecting hand motion.


A trackball can be used in the place of a mouse to perform cursor movement. This device has buttons similar to the buttons on the mouse. It has a large rotating ball on the top, which is used to move the cursor.

The body of the trackball does not move, the ball on the mouse is rolled by figures. The position of the cursor on the screen is controlled by rotating the ball.

An advantage of the trackball is that it takes less space to move than a mouse Trackball is often included in laptop computers. It can also be used as a separate input device with standard desktop computers.

Touchpad/ Trackpad

A touchpad is a small, flat surface on which the user moves his finger. To move the cursor we use the finger. It is also known as a trackpad. A touchpad also has one or more buttons near it. These buttons work like mouse buttons. Touchpads are commonly used in notebook computers

Pointing Stick

A pointing stick is a pressure-sensitive device. It is similar to a pencil eraser and exists between keys on the keyboard. The pointer on the screen moves when the user presses the pointing stick. It requires no additional space or cleaning like a mouse. A pointing stick is normally used in notebook computers.

image showing the Pointing stick

Touch Screen

A touch screen is a video display screen that accepts input from the touch of a finger. There is a covering of plastic over the screen. Behind the screen, there are infrared light beams that are invisible. By touching menu items or symbols on the screen, the user enters data. The touch screen is very easy to use most touch screen computers use sensors to detect a touch of a finger.

image showing the touch screen

The touch screen is well suited for simple applications like ATMs It has also become common in department-stored supermarkets.

 Light Pen

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

image showing the light pen


A joystick consists of a base and a stick that moves in different directions to move the cursor. The stick can be moved in a different direction to move an object around the screen. A joystick can perform a similar function to a mouse or trackball. It is often considered less comfortable and efficient.

image showing the joystick

The most common use of a joystick is for playing computer games. Some of the latest joysticks such as Logitech Freedom 2.4 are wireless.

Digital Pen

A digital pen is larger than a stylus. It is available in two forms. Some digital pens are pressure sensitive and some use a tiny built-in digital camera. A pressure-sensitive digital pen is used in TabletPC.

image showing the digital pen

The pen input is normally used with a touch screen. If a touch screen is not accessible, a graphic tablet is utilized in conjunction with the computer. A graphics tablet is made up of a flat pad (the tablet) on which the user can draw using a stylus, a unique pen.

As the user draws on the pad, the image is generated on the screen. Using a graphics tablet, a designer can create drawings that are both incredibly useful and beautiful.


A gamepad is a pointing device that controls the movement and actions of players or objects in games. It is a multifunction input device that includes programmable buttons, thumbsticks, and a directional pad. The user can program the buttons to correspond to certain actions such as changing a weapon, opening a door, etc. The directional pad and thumb sticks control the movement.

image showing the control pad

Gaming Wheel

A gaming wheel is an input device that uses a steering wheel and a separate set of foot pedals to imitate real-world driving. Most gaming Wheels incorporate programmable

The control pad on an audio player is used to scroll through music, adjust volume and customize settings.