How to Stop the Pesky Interference from Laptop Touchpads When Typing


Here’s how to get rid of a nuisance that can be a real bother. It is easy to accidentally brush a laptop touchpad when typing and that means the cursor goes flying off somewhere with all sorts of unwanted results. If you are using taps to indicate clicks, you may even inadvertently open a program.

There are several ways to deal with this problem. You can disable the touchpad while typing and then re-enable it when you are done. Some laptops even provide a button to do this. Or you can disable and re-enable the touchpad in Control Panel or Device Manager. However, these all-or-nothing methods can be tedious and don’t suit many people.

There is also free software for disabling the touchpad. One program was previously discussed at Gizmo’s Hot Finds.

But why not use the easiest method of all? The method I prefer is simply to use the settings that are already available right there on the PC. The procedure varies slightly, depending on the make of touchpad that you have, but it is similar for the commonly found hardware. It involves just one trip to the Control Panel to configure the touchpad settings and then you are finished.

Configure touchpad properties from the notification area

  1. If there is an icon for your touchpad in the notification area (system tray), right-click it.
  2. Choose “Properties” to open the Mouse Properties dialog.
  3. On the top right of the Mouse Properties dialog should be a button for your make of Touchpad. (This button may be missing in virtual machines.) Alternatively, there may be a button "Device Settings". Click the button that applies for your system.
  4. A new window will open. Highlight the touchpad listing and click the button “Options”. 
  5. A window for configuring the touchpad settings will open. It will vary slightly from one make of touchpad to the other but will be similar.
  6. Click "PalmCheck" or "PalmTracking" or similar. See the examples of the windows for two common touchpads below.
  7. Adjust the slider to the desired sensitivity.
  8. Click "OK" or "Yes" or similar.

Figure 1. Settings for Synaptics TouchPad
Settings for Synaptics touchpad


Figure 2. Settings for Elan TouchPad
Settings for Elan touchpad


Not all systems will have a touchpad icon in the notification area. You can still configure the settings from the Control Panel.

How to open Control Panel settings for the mouse

In Windows XP, these are the steps:

  1. Open the Start menu
  2. Click “Control Panel”
  3. Select “Printers and Other Hardware”
  4. Click “Mouse”
  5. The “Mouse Properties” dialog window will open

In Windows Vista and Windows 7:

  1. Open the Start menu
  2. Enter “mouse” in the Search bar (without quotes)
  3. In the Control Panel list, click “Mouse”
  4. The “Mouse Properties” dialog window will open

Next follow the steps 3-8 given above for configuring the touchpad from an icon in the notification area.

Adjusting general touch sensitivity in Synaptics TouchPad

The Synaptics TouchPad is quite common and has another touch sensitivity adjustment that can also be useful. See this link for a description.  The discussion mentions Windows Vista but holds for Windows XP and Windows 7 as well.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs a Windows blog called The PC Informant and also operates a computer education website.

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I have a new Dell Vostro laptop with ELAN touchpad.
The fancy touchpad settings utility that's provided with the laptop has a Palm Tracking option, which I set to "ON" and choose the maximum. When I am typing, the result is a bit better than with minimum, but still terrible.

To make things worse DELL placed the touchpad center NOT alligned with the keyboard center. So when I type it literally forces my right palm to rest on the touchpad.

How smart can these people get?