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Take Control of a Netbook or Laptop Touchpad while Typing

If you’re a Netbook owner, you may have noticed how annoying it is when you’re typing something and the mouse cursor starts moving all over the screen. Here we take a look at a few ways to alleviate this problem.

It’s extremely annoying when you’re working on a document on a Netbook or Laptop and you accidentally hit the touchpad and the cursor jumps across the screen. What’s worse is when the cursor flies across the screen and launches an application that you didn’t want opened. Or even worse, it it jumps to a different location and tries to delete what you’re working on, or closes a window you were reading to get research done.

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Here are a couple of easy to use freeware apps that do a good job of combating the annoyance by disabling the touchpad while you’re typing.

Touchpad Pal

One free app that will help you out is Touchpad Pal (link below). Just download and install it following the defaults in the wizard.

We tested this out on an HP-Mini 311 Netbook which has an Alps touchpad.

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TouchpadPal lives in your Taskbar and runs quietly in the background when needed.

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We opened up Notepad to put it to the test, and while typing a short message, it blocked the touchpad 4 times.

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It pops up a notification balloon letting you know it blocked a touchpad click.

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If you want to see how many times it worked just open it from the Taskbar to see the results. You might be surprised how many times it has blocked the touchpad if you’re doing a lot of typing during the day.

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TouchFreeze

Another free utility you can download from Google Code is TouchFreeze (link below). It works essentially the same way by running from the Taskbar and disables the touchpad automatically while you’re typing. We also ran this on our HP Mini Netbook.

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Like Touchpad Pal, it lives in the Taskbar and runs quietly in the background.

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Here we tested it out using WordPad on our Netbook and it seemed to do a good job. It won’t pop up a notification when it blocks the touchpad, and you can’t get a tally of how many times it worked. It just simply does it’s job, and we found it to work well while using a text editor or typing online.

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Adjust Touchpad Sensitivity

There are many things that can go wrong, not only while typing, but you can accidentally open wrong directories, launch unneeded apps, hit a wrong link…the problem is extremely annoying. Especially if you’re trying to get work done quickly. Each touchpad is different depending on the computer you have so changing the properties will vary.

If you don’t see a place to change the touchpad’s properties you can download the driver from the vendor’s site.

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By tweaking the sensitivity hopefully you can get a configuration you’re happy with.

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Disable Touchpad & Use a Mouse

If you can’t get the settings of you touchpad set to where it is useable, another option you have is to just disable it and use a mouse. To disable the touchpad go into the touchpad software, where you should see an option to disable it. 

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There are a lot of different types of travel mouse options available out there from various manufacturers like Microsoft or Logitech. If you’re going to choose this option you’ll probably want to go to a computer store so you can at least try a few out before buying. If you want to go the wireless route (and who doesn’t want less cables!) Microsoft makes some really nice ones that are sturdy and responsive. Of course they’re smaller which is nice for transporting it around.

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They include a USB receiver that you plug into a USB port and the mouse runs on one or two AA batteries. The Microsoft travel mouse comes with software you can use to customize it as well. If you’re in a pinch you can always plug in any wired USB mouse for easier navigation versus the touchpad.

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If you’re tired of battling the touchpad on your laptop or netbook, these tips should definitely help you out. If you’re experiencing problems with your Dell Synaptics touchpad, The Geek as a good article on fixing Firefox scrolling problems.

What is your take? What methods do you use to alleviate the annoyance of the cursor jumping all over the place? Leave a comment and let us know.

Download Touchpad Pal

Download TouchFreeze

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/8/10

Comments (14)

  1. Beerd

    Double article start. Just thought I would bring it to attention for a quick fix.

  2. Beerd

    i mean, for the summary on the homepage.

  3. Kino Velez

    Now the challenge is to find one that works in Ubuntu.

  4. Kino Velez

    Touch Freeze is nice like you said it just does its job without having to remind you it is doing it. Made a believer out of me.

  5. segadc

    Interesting I will check Touch Freeze out. Thanks!

  6. Spudd86

    For Linux users there’s syndaemon

  7. Kevin

    I got a button on my touch pad to turn it on and off at any time

  8. brcothran

    You could also do what my Dad does, tape a fake credit card over the track pad. It supports all platforms!

  9. Duckbrain

    This does not just apply to netbooks. I have a 17″ screen, but Dell put my touch pad off to the side where I would touch it anyway. I had previously just disabled tap clicking to help avoid deleting entire paragraphs only to realize it after I had written a large amount after. I am glad to hear that they have a TouchFreeze-like program for Windows. I will have to install that next time I boot to it. Thank you.

  10. Sandra

    Vista users Fn+F9 will enable/disable the touch pad right on the keyboard. No need to go anywhere else.

  11. john3347

    I use TouchFreeze on my XP laptop and netbook and it seems to work quite satisfactorily. It is not constantly “in your face” as TouchPad Pal is. The problem here is that TouchFreeze does not work in Windows 7 (unless it has just recently been included). TouchPad Pal installs on Windows 7 BUT is constantly throwing up distracting windows on the desktop and is not NEARLY as effective as TouchFreeze at preventing “cursor dart”. I had to uninstall TouchPad Pal because the popup windows were actually more distracting than the cursor dart it is supposed to prevent. Fortunately, Fn-F7 toggles the touch pad on my Windows 7 laptop. This solution is preferable to the annoyance and ineffectiveness of TouchPad Pal.

    Note: The key combination required to disable the touchpad is not OS dependent. This varies with the computer manufacturer. On Sandra’s computer (another post in this thread) it is Fn-F9, on mine it is Fn-F7. (Check the user manual for your computer.) It is not available on all laptops either.

  12. john3347

    brcothran also presents a very effective solution that I have used in the past. I would add a small detail to his suggestion. Tape the credit card, or similar device, across the top only with a piece of tape. This acts as a hinge, holding the device in place, yet allows you convenient access to the touchpad by simply lifting the device.

  13. Trinae

    Touchfreeze works in Windows 7. I haven’t tried Touchpad Pal, but Touchfreeze has been working consistenly. I don’t need to be reminded that the accidental taps are being blocked, just block them.

    Constanly pressing keys to disable the touchpad only breaks up the flow of things. I like that the touchpad is only temporarily disabled, but I can use it immediately when needed.

  14. Cecelia

    TouchPal didn’t work well, but the TouchFreeze solved the problem. I get to throw away my cardboard cover solution leaving the ability to use the touchpad when needed. Passing this link on to the many I know with the same annoying problem. I was ready to toss the computer…Thank you so much for this.

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