Is it difficult for you to scroll, click, or zoom with your touchpad or trackpad on your computer? Is it possible that the gesture controls are not functioning properly? Here’s what you should do if your laptop’s touchpad is acting strangely.
Even if your laptop is extremely powerful, the touchpad has the ability to make or break your whole experience. Remember, your cursor is the primary means by which you connect with the computer, so if it’s slow, inaccurate, or leaping all over the place, you’re going to have a horrible experience. The following remedies may be useful if you’re fed up with dealing with a cursor that won’t work properly.

Clean the Touchpad

When you think about it, there’s a lot of dirt, filth, and skin oils that can accumulate on your computer’s keyboard and screen over time. If it’s been a while since you’ve given it a once-over, take a soft cloth and dampen it with a little water (or isopropyl alcohol, if necessary) before giving the touchpad a thorough clean. It may respond more effectively if it can more correctly detect your fingers dragging across the surface of the device. (And while you’re at it, make sure to clean those grubby keyboard keys, please.)

Adjust Your Settings

Despite the fact that no two touchpads are alike, the drivers for your laptop are likely to allow you to alter a few parameters, allowing you to customize how your touchpad responds to your movements. Navigate to Settings > Devices > Touchpad and adjust the sensitivity of the touchpad there.

In addition, you may wish to disable the tap-to-click capabilities as well as the lower-right-corner feature that is enabled by default, if you are using them. In addition, multi-touch gestures may be giving you problems; if you find that you are accidently invoking them, disable those features. Navigate to Settings > Devices > Mouse > Additional Mouse Options, where you can experiment with whether or not to enable or disable Enhance Pointer Precision.

Many recent laptops include touchpads that were specifically intended to work with Microsoft’s drivers, but older machines may still utilize drivers from other manufacturers, such as Elan or Synaptic. If your laptop falls under this group, you may be able to take advantage of additional Windows settings that give you greater control.

Look for an additional tab with touchpad settings in the same Additional Mouse Options box stated above—you’ll often find more options hidden within this tab if you look closely. Although we haven’t personally tested this, it’s possible that rolling back the driver or performing a registry change will bring back the Synaptic touchpad tab. If this is the case, we recommend contacting Synaptic support for assistance.

Mac users can access the Trackpad preferences by going to System Preferences > Trackpad to see the options that regulate point-and-click, scrolling, zooming, and gesture controls. When you select Point & Click, you can customize the tracking speed, the controls for completing a secondary click, and whether or not to enable the tap-to-click feature, which might result in a large number of inadvertent clicks if enabled.

Click Scroll & Zoom to change the zooming in and out, as well as the rotation of the screen, motion controls. If you go to More Gestures, you can set up numerous swiping and pinching gestures for opening certain apps and swiping between different windows, among other things. These gestures can either be turned off or, if you keep doing an action by accident, they can be adjusted to be easier or tougher to accomplish in the future.

Download New Drivers

Depending on whether or not your laptop has automatically updated to the most recent touchpad drivers, you may notice that certain changes have been made in the recent past. Start by going to the website of the manufacturer of your laptop—for example Dell, Lenovo, or HP—and entering the model number of your laptop into their help page. Manually downloading and installing the most recent driver on your PC and seeing if it makes a difference.

I’ve also come across a few instances where users have reported success after changing their BIOS. You can even conduct a search for your precise model laptop to check if anyone else has experienced a similar problem. Keep in mind, however, that you should continue with caution and make a backup of your computer before attempting any experimental remedies that have been proposed by others.

Even though some users have reported positive results with unofficial drivers that were not built for their unique laptop, the likelihood of this happening is just as high that things will get worse as it is that they will get better. As an example, a widely used hack in 2017 entailed installing Lenovo Precision drivers on non-Precision laptops; however, this trick no longer works on the most recent versions of Windows 10.

Use Only One Finger

This is going to seem ridiculous, but bear with me: you might be holding your iPhone 4 incorrectly, just like the iPhone4. Changing the way your hand rests on the laptop’s keyboard may help to improve its responsiveness and overall performance.

Most touchpads are equipped with a feature known as palm detection, which attempts to distinguish between your pointer finger and your thumb or palm resting on the trackpad’s bottom surface, respectively. However, this feature is more effective on some laptops than others, and if yours has less effective palm detection, it may not work as effectively if you put your thumb on the bottom of the laptop for simple clicks, like in the example above.

Try using the trackpad with only one finger at a time, and you may find it works better. It’s far from ideal, but if you just need a working trackpad while you hunt down a more permanent solution, this may help make your laptop usable again.


Look for a Hardware Issue

If software tweaks are unsuccessful in getting things to work, it may be necessary to investigate the hardware itself. Take your laptop to a local shop or contact the manufacturer if you are uncomfortable opening it up. If you’ve reached the end of your warranty period and the manufacturer is unable to assist you, you’d be surprised how far a tiny screwdriver can travel.

Take a look at the trackpad on its own. Is there any unevenness to it? Battery bulges under the trackpad as they age, causing the trackpad to pull up and generate abnormal behavior on the computer. Is it possible that you have recently recovered from a bad spill? Even if you thoroughly cleaned the laptop’s surface, there may still be some water damage to the internal components. Sometimes the trackpad’s ribbon cable is just loose, or the trackpad itself is damaged; in these circumstances, you can often buy new components online and simply swap them in place.

Save Yourself the Headache and Use a Mouse

You probably don’t want to hear it, but here’s the truth: some laptops simply have bad trackpads, and no amount of tuning will improve their performance. If you haven’t made the decision to purchase a new laptop yet, it may be time to bite the bullet and accept the necessity of using a mouse. There are a plethora of excellent wireless mice available that will make your experience far more comfortable, at the very least when you’re sitting at a desk.

Learning your keyboard shortcuts will also save you time by reducing the amount of time you spend with your finger on a faulty trackpad. They’re also significantly faster than any mouse, which means they may prove to be more useful in the long run.


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