Social cues presented at visual fixation have been shown to strongly influence an observer’s attention and response selection. Here we ask whether the same holds for cues (initially) presented away from fixation, as cues are commonly perceived in natural vision. In six experiments, we show that extrafoveally presented cues with a distinct outline, such as pointing hands, rotated heads, and arrow cues result in strong cueing of responses (either to the cue itself, or a cued object). In contrast, cues without a clear outline, such as gazing eyes and direction words exert much weaker effects on participants’ responses to a target cue. We also show that distraction effects on response times are relatively weak, but that strong interference effects can be obtained by measuring mouse trajectories. Eye tracking suggests that gaze cues are slower to respond to because their direction cannot easily be perceived in extrafoveal vision. Together, these data suggest that the strength of an extrafoveal cue is determined by the shape of the cue outline, rather than its biological relevance (i.e., whether the cue is provided by another human being), and that this shape effect is due to how easily the direction of a cue can be perceived in extrafoveal vision.