It is easy to disable the touchpad of a Windows laptop or netbook – temporarily or permanently. This can be helpful if you use a USB mouse but keep pressing the touchpad by accident. Modern laptops with an all in one pad (no left/right buttons) seem particularly susceptible – the slightest twitch as you’re typing can send the cursor flying around the screen.
Disabling may also be necessary if the touchpad is faulty e.g. a sticking left/right button can throw Windows into a tizzy, popping up menus all over the place. Here are three easy ways to disable a touchpad whilst using a USB mouse instead:
1. Via a keyboard button or switch – Most laptops have a special key or switch to disable the trackpad. It is often one of the Function (Fn) keys between F1 and F12 so you may need to press Fn at the same time.
Each laptop is different but, as a guide, look for a picture of a rectangular touchpad – perhaps with a finger/hand pointing at it or a cross over it. Press this button/switch to quickly disable the touchpad – the setting is remembered even after restarting but it can be toggled off/on again at any time by pressing the same button/switch when Windows is running.
2. Via the Mouse Device Settings – Open Control Panel then open the Mouse Properties window as in the example below – depending on your version of Windows and layout of Control Panel, the Mouse category may also be accessible from ‘Devices and Printers’ \ Mouse or from ‘Printers and other Hardware’ \ Mouse:
Select the ‘Device Settings’ (or similar) tab then select your touchpad in the list of Devices and press the Disable button to disable it – press Apply to confirm. This setting is remembered even after restarting but it can be toggled off/on again at any time by repeating the same process.
3. Via the BIOS – For a more permanent solution (e.g. if the touchpad is faulty), use a setting in the BIOS to enable or disable the touchpad from outside of Windows (not all laptops have this feature).
As your computer starts up, look for a message about a particular key, usually DEL (Delete) or F1 or F2, that you need to press to ‘Setup’ or ‘Enter Setup’. Press the setup key as soon as you see the message. If you weren’t quick enough the computer will continue to boot into Windows – restart again and this time try pressing the key several times as soon as you see the message.
You will now enter the BIOS Setup Utility. All BIOS Utilities are slightly different but instructions on how to move around the menus and make changes are usually listed at the bottom of the screen. Typically you use keyboard arrows to navigate the menu and + or – to change values. U(p) and D(own) or F5 and F6 keys are also popular for changing values.
Navigate around the BIOS Utility and try to locate the option for disabling the touchpad. If present, change the current value to disable (or enable) the touchpad – to make the change take effect, you need to save it by following the BIOS instructions – typically you would navigate to the ‘Save and Exit Setup’ or ‘Save & Exit’ or similar menu.
This BIOS setting is independent of Windows so is even more permanent – to enable the touchpad again, follow the same process in the BIOS utility.