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MouseText designed by Bruce Tognazzini is a set of 32 graphical characters first implemented in the Apple IIc. They were then retrofitted to the Apple IIe forming part of the Enhanced IIe upgrade. A slightly revised version was then released with the Apple IIgs.

MouseText made it possible to display simple text user interfaces resembling the Macintosh graphical user interface. Since the Apples lacked the ability to display user-defined characters in text mode, all GUI-like displays beyond crude ASCII art approximations had to use the slower and more memory-hungry graphical mode before MouseText was available. MouseText resulted in an eightfold increase in display speed for mouse applications, bringing such text-based applications as word processors up to the same speed as the original Macintosh. Word processors running on the two computers would not be confused with one another, however, as the mouse under MouseText would move in discrete jumps from character cell to character cell, rather than the smooth movement of the Macintosh, and text was still monospaced.

The original version of MouseText in the Apple IIc included a depiction of a figure running, perhaps to portray the action of running a program. This icon was later found to be unnecessary, and Tognazzini sent a letter to CALL A.P.P.L.E. magazine warning developers not to use them, as they would be replaced.[1]

The MouseText characters replaced a redundant set of inverse uppercase characters (@,A..Z,[,\,],^,_) in the Alternate character set.

Original MouseText with Running Man[edit]


Revised MouseText found in Apple IIgs[edit]


How to access MouseText characters[edit]

In order to display MouseText characters a program must first select the Alternate character set, turn on Inverse video mode and then output an ASCII 27 character. To turn off MouseText the program should output an ASCII 24 character and then if required return the display to Normal video mode. For example, in Applesoft the following code fragment will display the MouseText representation of a folder:



See also[edit]


  • Apple Technote Mouse #6
  • Apple IIc Technical Reference Manual
  • Apple IIgs Hardware Reference Manual
  • Apple II History Chap 8