Laptop Touchpad Problems – Random Movements

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So you got yourself a laptop. It’s great, you love it, and it makes your life more convenient. But then, after a while, you start to notice that when you are typing, the cursor sometimes moves around randomly and it messes up whatever you type because the cursor might appear earlier in the document and when you keep typing, you end up putting text all over the place in your document. What can you do?
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This problem can occur for two varieties of the same problem: First, you might be brushing the laptop touchpad as you move your hand around while typing. This, in effect, briefly moves the cursor around on the screen each time you make contact which causes the problem. This mostly affects touch-typists because of the hand positioning it requires. Hunt-and-peckers usually have there hands up off the keyboard and touchpad. Second, depending on how your laptop manufacturer made your laptop, the area near the touch pad may be sensitive and the act of touching near the touchpad causes the laptop shell around it to be depressed and this can register on the touchpad as a ‘touch’ which causes the same problem. Sometimes, the amount of sensitive area around the touchpad can reach up to where the spacebar area is in some especially poorly designed laptops.
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By the way, as a side note, I must admit that I find touchpads in general to be very inconsistent and problematic in the way they work. Plugging in a wireless mouse and use it instead if you have the option. But this doesn’t resolve the problem I’m addressing here. I assume that laptop manufacturers are continuously trying to improve the way the work, and perhaps that is why so many times people have a problem typing because the touchpad is now too sensitive and thus it causes the randomly jumping cursor.
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So what can you do? Well, the simplest solution is to just plug in an external (USB) keyboard. This will resolve the issue in nearly every case. What’s the problem with this solution? You’ve have to carry around a keyboard with you making the portability of the laptop a real pain. However, since I work on a lot of customer’s laptops all the time and it can be handy to have a spare keyboard around that I can just plug in when needed for a situation like this.
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Probably the best solution is to see what options you have built-in to the laptop. Some laptop manufacturers have settings in the MOUSE section of the Control Panel where you can “Disable touchpad while typing” or “Tap Off When Typing” or “Tap to click”. That should be the best option. However, sometimes it doesn’t seem to work all that well. This is because, even when disabled like that, it may not be sensitive enough.
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This method of disabling works by having the computer detect when you’ve pressed a key on the keyboard and from that instant and for a short time afterwards, it ignores any touchpad signals. The problem is that some manufacturers make the ‘short time afterwards’ so short that it does no good. Some may wait for only a few hundredths of a second, others can make it wait for up to half a second. It all depends on how the manufacturer sets it. Some are nice enough to let you choose how long to wait and you can fine-tune it to your own needs, but most have too short of a built-in time that cannot be changed and that’s all. Worst of all, most manufacturers don’t even offer this feature at all.
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Windows itself comes with some basic driver software for mice (touchpads) that has a some ability to modify the touchpads settings, but it’s very limited. Some manufacturers will provide some software that will let you adjust the sensitivity. For example, if on some Dell laptops with Windows 7, there is an icon in the system tray for a touch pad and you can adjust the sensitivity of the touchpad right from there. Some HP laptops (again, in Windows 7) have this feature, too. Not all, but many laptops use Synaptic software for their touchpads. Although there are many versions of the software out there with differing types of features, controls, and settings. To find out, go to the Control Panel, bring up the Mouse settings and look for a tab with the Synaptic’s logo () on it. Once there, you’ll be looking for something in the Sensitivity settings, usually called Palm Check.
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If you can’t adjust the settings, the next solution is to see if you can actually just disable the touchpad completely. With this solution you will have to plug in an external mouse (like I mentioned above). Most laptop manufacturers go by the assumption that, why would you ever want to disable your touchpad? Don’t you just love it? In a case like that, you simply can’t disable it, and that’s that. But some manufacturers will allow you to either disable it in the BIOS, or by way of a button on the laptop, or through some software provided that will either be a stand-alone program or in the Control Panel that I had mentioned above.
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If none of those options are helpful or desirable, then probably the most commonly used solution will be through third party software. There are a few out there that act to disable the touchpad while typing but they use settings that should be much more successful for the average user than what might be offered (if any) thru the manufacturer.
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[h5]Software you can use:[/h5]

[h5]a) TouchFreeze – Freeware ($0.00) (http://code.google.com/p/touchfreeze/)[/h5]

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TouchFreeze works with Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and Windows 7. It sits in the System Tray and doesn’t really announce anything, but it keeps the touchpad from interfering with typing. Currently the most recommended of these three software solutions by a slight margin.
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[h5]b) Touchpad Pal – Freeware ($0.00) (http://tpp.desofto.com/)[/h5]

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Touchpad Pal works with Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7. It sits in the System Tray as well, and it will pop-up and tell you when it blocks a touch. Accepts donations if you’d like.
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[h5]c) Touchpad Blocker – Freeware ($0.00) (http://karpolan.com/software/touchpad-blocker/)[/h5]

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Touchpad Blocker works with Windows 2000, XP, Vista, and Windows 7. Like the above programs, it sits in the System Tray, it doesn’t pop-up any notifications, but it does have Settings that you can adjust.
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There are two main causes of this problem with a laptop. In most (99% of) cases, the touchpad circuitry is too sensitive or the settings for sensitivity are incorrect. But on rare occasions, dust can get into the touchpad or the cables that connect it can loosen. Though this is extremely rare, you can try to use compressed air to blow things out or have a professional take everything apart and make sure it’s all connected and working right.
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