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How To Enable Macbook-Style Two Finger Scrolling on Windows Laptops

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After using my new Macbook Air for the last week, it’s almost painful to switch back to my PC laptop—using two finger scrolling has become second nature. Here’s how to get the same feature on (most) Windows laptops.

This technique only works for laptops using Synaptics trackpads—if your laptop is using an Alps or something else, you’re probably out of luck, since we’ve not been able to find a solution for those.

How to Tell What Type of Trackpad You Have

Figuring out what type of hardware you’re using is extremely simple—just type mouse into the Start Menu search box, or head into the Mouse section of Control Panel. Once you’re there, head to the Hardware tab, and you’ll be able to see what type of pointing device you’re using.

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You can probably also see an icon in your system tray for the pointing device you’re using—thankfully that’s easy enough to remove.

Enable Two-Finger Scrolling with Synaptics Drivers

Your laptop probably has the default drivers from Microsoft or the drivers for your laptop vendor—for instance, if you’ve got a Dell laptop like the one I’m typing on, it has Dell-branded versions of the Synaptics drivers, which may not support two-finger scrolling. It’s worth taking a trip into the Mouse settings to see if there’s an option, but otherwise you’ll need a different solution.

The actual Synaptics drivers from their site support two-finger scrolling gestures natively, so what you can do is simply install those instead of the drivers from your laptop’s manufacturer. Head to the the driver downloads page, install them, and reboot your PC.

Now when you head into the Mouse Properties window in Control Panel, you’ll see a Device Settings tab, where you can click the Settings button to get into the advanced settings page.

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Head to Scrolling –> Two-Finger Scrolling on the left-hand side, where you can enable vertical or horizontal scrolling with two fingers—you’ll probably want to enable the EdgeMotion setting as well, which keeps scrolling when your fingers hit the edge of your touchpad.

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You’ll probably want to also check out the Pointing –> Sensitivity settings and do some tweaking there—if you’ve got the PalmCheck feature or the Touch Sensitivity cranked up too far, the scrolling won’t work well.

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It’ll require some testing, but you should have two-finger scrolling.

You’ll probably also notice that the drivers enable Pinch Zooming, and they even let you do three-finger gestures. Sadly they work better in theory than in practice, but you’re encourage to experiment to see if you like them.

Enable Two-Finger Scrolling with a Freeware Add-on

If you’d rather not mess with your drivers, there’s another add-on that works, though it only works for Synaptics touchpads. After doing a lot of testing, we’ve actually found that this is a preferable solution that works really well.

You’ll need to download TwoFingerScroll, extract the zip file somewhere safe that won’t be deleted by accident, and then just launch the utility. Once you’ve done that, you’ll see a new icon in your tray, where you can quickly enable or disable the scrolling, and more importantly, head into the Settings.

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The Settings panel’s Scrolling tab has a couple of options that you’ll want to tweak—set Scroll type to Linear, and Scroll mode to Smart. This will enable significantly better scrolling than the Compatible mode.

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If you click the Help link you’ll see a popup dialog that explains how each one works—the important one is Smart mode, which actually does smooth scrolling mode most of the time, until you hold down Shift+Ctrl+Alt while scrolling, and then it switches into Compatible mode for that single application.

This is a great way to get the most of both worlds—if the regular mode doesn’t work, like for older applications, you can use the hotkey sequence to enable compatible mode, which should work.

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You’ll probably want to head to the General tab and make sure that it’s also set to start up with Windows.

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We tested both of these techniques on a Dell Studio 1555 laptop, with great luck—the TwoFingerScroll utility worked a lot better than the Synaptics driver method, but your mileage may vary, or it might not work for you at all.

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 11/12/10

Comments (40)

  1. Jose Carlos Torres

    No Alps?

  2. Sam

    Hi..
    Actually I have been using 2 finger scroll by updating synaptics touchpad driver. It actually like to a program called scrybes which update ur driver. after which you can uninstall scrybes but keeping the updated driver
    :)

  3. Matthew Guay

    Ah, I’ve been using 2 finger scrolling, along with pinch to zoom and twist to rotate on my netbook’s trackpad since I bought it early this year. Works great, and yes, it’s now painful to scroll on a laptop that doesn’t have 2 finger scrolling enabled…

  4. Question

    When I install this on my laptop, the settings tab doesn’t have all those options. It just has Overview and Buttons there. I’ve had to do a wipe on the hard drive in the past, could that have screwed up the drivers for the trackpad? (The pad still works, though).

  5. Strodtbeck

    No such luck with HP G70. From what I’ve gathered certain touch-pads are crippled and will not allow you to have multi-touch. . . . thanks Synaptic & HP!

  6. Rebs

    Excellent article

  7. Rob & Joanna Szrama

    Too bad for linux users

  8. Hatryst

    You rock, Geek :)

  9. Kate

    Wow, that is really neat! It installed just fine on my Acer Aspire One (XP), but I got the absolute bare bones driver for my Gateway M-1624 (Vista)–NO bells and whistles whatsoever. Kinda weird since it was the exact same download for both machines. But you did say it wouldn’t work for all. Thank you!

  10. Alfredo

    Great post thanks for that. But could someone give me some insight with Windows 7 snap feature. When ever I use it to work on two different things, I can never scroll to the side to see the rest of what ever I’m reading. Is there a way to change it or am i stuck fitting the screens manually. Any help is appreciated.

  11. DemoGeek

    That was a great find Geek. I’m sure you are enjoying the niceties of your Mac!

  12. Dave

    I’ve found that the efficacy of the Synaptics drivers depends a lot on the particular trackpad and/or notebook. It works pretty good on my Mini 1012, but less well on my Mini 10v, and really not well on my ThinkPad T41. So on my Mini 1012, I’ve enabled “chiral” scrolling, which allows you to scroll up and down by starting at an edge and then using a circular motion on the trackpad.

    I didn’t know about the two finger scroll program so I’ll give it a shot!

  13. Monicoj

    Or you just need to get a Mac…
    I’m joking ;-)
    I’m running hackint0sh :-D

  14. Jon

    I just use a regular USB optical mouse on PC laptops. No problems or complaints at all.

  15. TuSheep

    I have a SONY Vaio laptop with Alps touchpad. The synaptics driver works fine, but offers no scroll option under SETTINGS. The two finger add on doesn’t work either since it just gives the message “no synaptic touchpad.” I searched quite a bit and tried different things with no luck. If someone gets this to work on an Alps, tell me. I’d like the two finger scroll.

  16. TuSheep

    Now I feel stupid. I had updated to the recent Alps driver just to turn off the tapping on the touchpad. However, the recent Alps driver has a single finger side slide function (slide on right side of pad up or down) for scrolling, that works okay for me and I never even noticed it before.

  17. Fodaro

    Hmm, sounds good, but I think I’d still rather use a mouse… Still, I would use a magic mouse if it worked with linux.

    @Rob & Joanna Szrama: Have you tried ndiswrapper to wrap the Synaptics driver?

  18. Ghayyad

    i have a problem ,i download the driver but it still synaptic touchpad v7.0 and the Two finger scrolling doesn’t appear>>>

  19. Pirmin

    Does anyone know how it is possible to make a two-finger-right mouseclick? I would like to have the same behaviour like on the mac. Any ideas?

  20. AcidSpoon

    @Fodaro: Good idea, but it won’t work. NDISwrapper (Network Driver Interface Specification wrapper) is only for installing NETWORK drivers in linux, using the Windows network drivers. It works in much the same way as wine, but for NIC drivers. Unfortunately it won’t work for trackpads.

  21. Kevin

    What is the point of this article? There is no need for third party software. The Synaptics software already has the two finger scrolling and the three finger click. I even got a drum pad on my touch pad.

  22. Jennifer

    @Ghayyad:

    The version number is for the firmware on the touchpad hardware. I recently replaced a dead MSI Wind touchpad with an Asus touchpad and now have one Wind with Ver. 6.5 and the other is now Ver 6.2. The driver is the same on both laptops.

  23. Kristof

    You need a Synaptics touchpad version higher than 7.2 (I am not sure about 7.1, but 7.0 does NOT work). You ARE dependent on your hardware for this :)

  24. Rtd

    @Kristof, No you aren’t Still you are running software and for software you don’t have to necessarily depend on hardware.

  25. Doug

    For some reason, whenever I install my Synaptics touchpad driver, Firefox’s bookmark scroll is disabled. :S

  26. BenderBendingRodriguez

    Nice add on for any laptop..

    I had to install the drivers and the two finger scroll app.. Works like a charm and my dell precision..

  27. ilikefree

    I removed the synotpics program from programs and features and went to synotpics and downloaded their latest driver, 3 years newer than what windows offered.
    Now I strike my toughpad like striking a match and it auto scrolls. tap to stop.
    Or I can scroll the item under the pointer as normal.

  28. Rtd

    I followed the same steps in this post, but I GOT VIRUS! Guys!

  29. Ramadan

    @Ghayyad: go here for Direct Download Links for Synaptics TouchPad Driver version 15.0.9.0
    (win7 ftp://ftp.hp.com/pub/softpaq/sp47501-48000/sp47815.exe)
    (winXP ftp://ftp.hp.com/pub/softpaq/sp47501-48000/sp47816.exe)

  30. rtd

    @Ramadan approach won’t work. You’re better off doing an earlier version of the touchpad driver.

  31. GeekinTraining

    When I tried to install TwoFingerScrolling on my Dell Inspiron 1545 I got the error messsage
    “Could not find ClassID: {9C042297-D1CD-F40D-B1AB-9F48AD6A6DFF}.”
    Any ideas what that is and how to fix it? I love the two finger scrolling feature on the mac and would love to enable it on my computer.

  32. Yin Gang

    I also got a ClassID error when running the TwoFingerScrolling on win7 x64.

  33. Yin Gang

    Just got it…the synaptics driver must be installed to avoid the classid error

    // though TwoFingerScrolling still tells me no synaptics device is found…dell latitude e6410

  34. Yin Gang

    Sorry for another and final update…Just found that the official dell driver for e6410′s touchpad already support the two fingle gesture (scroll, zoom …)

  35. Adam

    I can’t believe this has been active on my laptop this entire time and I have never seen it mentioned anywhere. Way to go HP. Although you were probably more interested in managing to get it to run at a temperature just before flash point than to worry about and fun things that will make my life easier

  36. mactr

    i dont have the 2 finger scroll option…how?

  37. Jon

    Hi,

    Does anyone know how you uninstall Two Finger Scroll? (The second programme)

    Thanks

  38. Georgia

    Thank you so much! :)

  39. Rob

    I have found running the additional program “two finger scroll” is much much better and smoother than the stock synaptics multitouch scrolling on my new Asus U36SD

  40. Mike

    Thank you SO MUCH!

    I just recently purchased an Acer Aspire One and the trackpad was *so* much worse than my old Dell Inspiron that I thought I would lose my mind. TwoFingerScroll has saved the day!

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