Oct 14, 2013 / 5:00 am
Whether your laptop is new or already familiar, you might find these tips will put an end to a couple of laptop annoyances. If you don’t have a laptop but have a friend who does, pass this along. Your friend will likely thank you.
I get lots of email from people who experience a problem with the cursor jumping around for no reason. Almost without exception, these people are using a laptop. What’s happening is that as we type, our palms either rest on or at least strike the laptop’s touchpad. That’s what moves the mouse to a seemingly random location, resulting in a jumble of words and letters.
The easiest way to resolve this problem is to use a wireless mouse and disable the touchpad. (Uninstalling the touchpad drivers is NOT a good idea. If you ever forget to bring your mouse, you’re going to be in a world of hurt.) It is very, very easy to disable your touchpad, and consequently enable it again if you need it.
One way is to use the keyboard. Every laptop I’ve ever seen used the Fn (called “Function”) key plus F keys (the top row of keys) to toggle functions on and off. On my little netbook, the Fn + F3 combination toggles the touchpad off and on. Different laptops use different key combinations. Look for an icon that resembles a touchpad, and try that key with the Fn key. See what happens.
Another simple way is to do it in your settings. Visit the control panel, and find the settings for Mouse. If you have a Synaptics touchpad, you’ll see a red icon there which will let you control the touchpad settings, including disabling it.
If you actually want to use the touchpad as a mouse, then clearly disabling it isn’t an option. But you can install a little free utility called TouchFreeze. It will disable the touchpad while you are typing text and automatically enable it again when you stop typing. You can get it here: http://code.google.com/p/touchfreeze/. It works great when it works at all, but TouchFreeze doesn’t work on every laptop. Before you install it, you might want to take a look at the Issues page (http://code.google.com/p/touchfreeze/issues/list) to see if it’s likely to work for you.
If you have a laptop running Windows 8, Windows 7 Home Premium or better (or even Vista Home Premium or better) you have a great little utility on your laptop that you probably don’t even know about. Windows Mobility Center provides ready access to many useful settings on your laptop without forcing you to use FN+F key combinations.
Activate Mobility Center by pressing the Windows and the X key at the same time. The Mobility Center presents you with a “tiles” for controlling screen brightness, volume, switching your wireless connection off and on, and lets you see the battery status. Sometimes there are tiles for external displays and presentation settings. Not all computers can do all functions, and some computer manufacturers replace the generic Mobility Center with their own branded one.
You’ll find more information about the Windows 7 Mobility Center here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Using-Windows-Mobility-Center. Vista users go here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-vista/Using-Windows-Mobility-Center. Information on the Windows 8 version is here: http://techmell.net/windows-tips/windows-8-mobility-center-brightness-volume-battery-presentation-settings/. If you have a laptop with the Mobility Center, try it out and see what you think.
Happy Thanksgiving (http://guardianlv.com/2013/10/canadian-thanksgiving-a-unique-holiday/) to our Canadian readers, wherever they may be, and to our readers in Canada. Please drive safely.
Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!
Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].
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Read more Computers articles
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