Learn how to fix a touchpad that has died or is acting jittery on a Windows 10 laptop.
If a laptop is otherwise in good working order, don’t let a touchy touchpad destroy your impression of it. Making a few little adjustments to your laptop’s touchpad will help it last longer. Windows 10 ($137 at Amazon) offers a variety of settings to help you get things operating the way you want, whether your touchpad is dead to the touch or acting skittishly, detecting unintentional actions while failing to identify your intended swipes, pinches, taps, and clicks.
I’ll start with how to resurrect a touchpad before discussing the many settings you may use to adjust its sensitivity, motions, and scrolling direction.
How to fix a dead touchpad?
You will need a mouse to restart a broken touchpad if your laptop doesn’t have a touchscreen display. Open Settings using your touchscreen or mouse, select Devices > Touchpad, and check that the toggle switch is turned on at the top.
Fix a skittish touchpad
A touchpad can feel shaky in a variety of ways. Perhaps your cursor is moving too quickly or too slowly. Perhaps the touchpad is overly sensitive, registering phantom clicks and gestures. Perhaps it’s not responsive enough, causing you to repeat yourself. Thankfully, Windows 10 includes a lot of options for fine-tuning how your touchpad responds to your clicks, taps, and swipes.
Navigate to Settings > Devices > Touchpad and look for a slider towards the top called
Change the cursor speed. Play with the slider until you find a speed that works for you.
One of the most vexing issues you’ll face is a touchpad that is too sensitive to touches, to the point where it moves the pointer around while you type.
One of the most irritating issues you’ll run across is a touchpad that is excessively sensitive to taps to the point that it shifts the cursor while you type just because your thumb or palm lightly touched it. By selecting from Most, High, Medium, or Low sensitivity from the drop-down box for Touchpad sensitivity, you can reduce this setting.
Two touchpad settings, tapping, and zoom, are always turned off on whatever Windows laptop I use for an extended period. Instead of pressing a mouse button or pressing down with your finger on the touchpad, tapping enables you to, well, tap the touchpad to accomplish a click. Since it frequently tricks touchpads into thinking I’m tapping when I’m not, even when I’m using Low sensitivity, I find it to be more of a hassle than a benefit.
I also frequently discover that a touchpad misunderstands my pinch-to-zoom gesture, even though I only ever use it with Google Maps. Zoom is out because I don’t use Google Maps on my laptop all that frequently. I thus uncheck the boxes for Pinch to zoom and Tap with a single finger to single-click.
If you typically tap and zoom on the touchpad, you can keep doing that while disabling any actions that require more than one finger to avoid having your touchpad misinterpret your taps and pinch zooms. Tap with two fingers to right-click and Drag with two fingers to scroll are unchecked.
To avoid accidentally using any tap gestures you don’t frequently use, I recommend disabling them.
Finally, there is a setting on the Touchpad page in Settings where you may choose your direction if you receive a new laptop, and the touchpad scrolls oppositely from how you’re used to. Choose either Down motion scrolls down or Up motion scrolls up by looking for the scrolling direction.
Upgrade your drivers
I have a 2019 Dell Inspiron, and when I attempted to update the touchpad driver, I was informed that it was current even though the driver was created in 2006. Therefore, there is a good chance that your touchpad driver is current and isn’t the cause of your touchpad issues. If your touchpad is malfunctioning, it’s still worth testing. To do this, perform a search for Device Manager, launch it, navigate to Mice and other pointing devices, and locate your touchpad (mine is labeled HID-compliant mouse, but yours may be named something else). Update driver by selecting with the right mouse click on your touchpad.
Your laptop will look for new driver software online and, hopefully, update as necessary. You might need to hunt for the updated driver on your own if your computer can’t find it. Search for “[LAPTOP MODEL] Windows 10 touchpad driver” on the website of the company that makes your laptop. Before installing the new driver, you might need to delete your old touchpad driver (Device Manager, right-click on the touchpad, Uninstall).