Automatically Turn Off the Touchpad When Using a Mouse
By on October 3rd, 2010

[for Windows and Mac OS X]

Do you use a laptop or netbook? How many times have you accidently hit your touchpad while typing? When it happens, you end up typing somewhere else or not at all. It’s aggravating, but it’s not something you need to put up with if you listen to our advice.

Last year, Keith wrote about a free little app that lets you disable the touchpad while typing. That application is called TouchFreeze (Windows Only), and it does a good job of keeping your cursor on track. Whenever you start typing, your laptop’s touchpad is automatically disabled.

I recently decided that I’d try TouchFreeze, but first I figured it would be a good idea to investigate my options. The first place I looked was in the mouse pointer options. Any Windows user can normally access the mouse settings by going to the Control Panel and double-clicking on the Mouse icon. Below you can see those Mouse icons as they appear in WinXP and Win7.

control-panel-mouse-winxp

control-panel-mouse-win7

Mac users with a Trackpad can access their settings by clicking System Preferences, selecting  Keyboard & Mouse, then switching  to the  Trackpad category.

I’m guessing that 99% of the time I use my laptop, I already have a mouse attached to it. I’ll admit that I’m still hooked on using a mouse. I’ve never gotten comfortable using a touchpad all the time.

I found out that my touchpad is a Synaptics device. Apparently, Synaptics touchpads are used on many major brands of computers, such as Dell, Samsung, Acer, HP, and Toshiba. The surprise for me, was that Synaptics already has a good solution for keeping my touchpad disabled when I don’t need it.

You can find the settings for your Synaptics touchpad in the Mouse settings on the last tab. The Synaptics settings include the option to turn off the touchpad whenever a mouse or other pointing device is attached.

This setting is labeled Disable internal pointing device when external USB pointing device is attached.

synaptic-settings

You may also be able to access the Synaptics settings by double-clicking on the Synaptics icon in your system tray. The Synaptics icon may look like one of these two icons below.

synaptic-icons

For the Mac users with a Trackpad, the same setting exists. Here you can see it at the very bottom of this image (from Apple.com). It says “Ignore trackpad when mouse is present”.

apple trackpad

That’s my solution to the problem. I like it because I don’t have to load any additional software on my laptop. TouchFreeze is great, but I don’t need it most of the time.


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Author: Clif Sipe Google Profile for Clif Sipe
Promoting Freeware and Free information since 2004. Owner of FreewareWiki.com with over 2000 pages of freebies. Please subscribe to my Google Feed or follow me on Twitter @clifnotes.

Clif Sipe has written and can be contacted at clif@techie-buzz.com.
  • Felix

    There is one condition when it is not possible to activate this option – its old hardware. I have “Synaptics TouchPad V6.1″ and with new driver I can even perform multi-touch actions, but option to turn-off when mouse present is still missing…

    • http://www.google.com/profiles/clif.notes Clif Sipe

      Hi Felix – thanks for the info. I’m sure there are others having the same problem.

 
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