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Issue #642: November 10-16, 2019

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Q: I use my laptop mostly for word processing. My old one is failing. I bought a new one. A disaster!!

The latest Windows 10 update has removed the option of disabling the touchpad when a mouse is connected. Even with my hand heels and wrists not touching the pads the pointer jumps around, typed words go anywhere, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and whole pages disappear.

Windows refers me to a users group. They are having the same bug/problem. No one has solutions. My new laptop is useless.

– Dan B.
Shalimar, Florida

A: What is to be done when your cursor tries to make you into a curser? Well, I believe the first thing you need to do is dial the drama back a couple of notches, Dan. It would be far worse if you needed the touchpad and it wasn’t working, but even that situation wouldn’t be “a disaster” or make the system “useless”. It’s a bit over the top to declare that “no one has solutions” when I haven’t had my turn to solve it yet. So, let’s see if I can give you a few tips to bring some serenity into your troubled world, hmm?

First of all, touchpad aside, when “typed words go anywhere, [or] phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and whole pages disappear,” they can almost always be immediately brought back by using the “Undo” function built into most software. The standard keyboard shortcut for that feature is [Ctrl]+Z. Undo will incrementally back up through actions you’ve applied to the current work, even those that were done by a misbehaving touchpad. If you back up too far, there is usually a corresponding Redo function that you can activate by hitting [Ctrl]+Y. These don’t work in every conceivable case, but every Office application supports Undo/Redo, as do other major applications. It’s also supported by most browsers within edit fields that may be displayed in forms you encounter during your treks around the web.

As for your touchpad, I looked at three different laptops in researching your issue. One was an HP brand, as you said yours is, and the others were a Lenovo and a Dell. They all have the latest Windows updates installed as of this writing. Although the actual controls varied due to differences in manufacturer of the touchpad itself, all three systems offered the ability to disable the touchpad altogether, as well as a convenient option to disable it whenever another pointing device is connected.

I’m going to suggest that you take another look at your system’s configuration, and see if you can find these same options. Start by clicking the Windows “Start” button, then “Settings” (the gear icon). Click “Devices”, then click “Touchpad” in the left navigation bar. The adjustment options might be right in the window, or, you might need to click “Additional Settings” on the right edge of the window. If you do the latter, it will pop-up what is actually the Mouse Properties dialog, which contains a separate tab for the embedded touch pad. Whether you find it in the main window, or on this tab, there will be an option to disable the device completely, or one to disable it only when another pointing device is detected.

One final note: A touchpad should never respond just because your hand gets near it. That’s why they put the word touch in the name. If your pointer is moving “even with [your] hand heels and wrists not touching the pads” then either you have the sensitivity adjusted way too high, or your system simply has the wrong software driver loaded for the installed touchpad hardware. Since this is a new laptop, I would hope that the manufacturer provided the correct driver, but it’s certainly worth checking into. Grab your model number and hit their website. To adjust the sensitivity, use the procedures from above to get to the Touchpad settings, and then use the provided drop-down list to choose Medium or Low sensitivity to minimize your problems.

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