Why does my cursor jump about and what can be done about it?

A cursor bouncing on a trampolineFor at least the last five years, a very irritating problem has affected Windows laptops of many different makes. This is generally known as the “jumping cursor”. One moment you are happily typing away and the next moment your cursor has jumped to a completely different part of the screen and has started placing your text in entirely the wrong place. Even if you are a touch-typist and are watching the screen all the time, this is a big nuisance. And if you just peck at the keys without glancing up at the screen you might have made quite a mess of your typing before noticing anything.

I’ve heard several suggestions as to what causes this and how it can be cured, but the strange thing is that one suggestion might work in one instance, but a different suggestion might work on another machine. This is quite odd as it suggests that the same annoying phenomenon can be caused by several different things. My current “main machine” is just coming up for three years old and it has suffered from jumping cursor all that time. In fact, it’s the worst “feature” of an otherwise excellent Samsung RF511. None of the suggestions below worked for me, but they’ve all worked for other people.

So, what are the things you can try to cure this problem?

  1. Mice in Device ManagerInstall a free utility called “Touchfreeze“. This utility switches off the touchpad while you are typing. The theory is that the jumping about is caused by getting the palm of your hand(s) too close to the touchpad while you are typing. It’s worth trying as the utility is free and it doesn’t seem to impede typing. Having said that, I have to say that I’ve had it installed on my Samsung for yonks and it doesn’t seem to have made any difference. Download Touchfreeze here.
  2. Hide the pointer while typing. Go to Control Panel and then open the Mouse option. Click on the tab for “Pointer Options” and put a tick in the box next to “Hide pointer while typing”. This is the sequence for Windows 8.1. It might be slightly different for Vista and/or Windows 7.
  3. Update the mouse and touchpad drivers. Go to the Control Panel and then open the Device Manager option. Go to “Mice and other pointing devices” and click on the triangle next to that option. This will display all the devices of this type. Right-click on the first device and then left-click on “Update Driver Software”. Take the “Search auomatically..” option and follow the prompts. Do this for all items that appear in the “Mice and other pointing devices” list.
  4. Disable the touchpad and just use a mouse. You may or may not be able to do this. If you have followed the instructions in (3) above you may have seen an option to “disable” when right-clicking on the touchpad. This is probably the easiest way, but it is not available on all laptops. See this article from PC World (the magazine, not the shop) on other ways you may be able to disable your touchpad. If you have a Dell laptop, you can disable the touchpad according to the instructions found here.

Hiding the pointer while typingNote that there is an option to “uninstall” mouse and touchpad drivers when right-clicking in the Device Manager (see (3) above). This may be worth trying in that it will remove old (and possibly corrupt) drivers. However, as soon as Windows detects that there is a device (in this case a mouse or touchpad) that needs a driver it will go and find one. This is a good step to take in troubleshooting, but you can’t disable hardware by uninstalling its driver as Windows will just re-install it.

You might also like to look at a tutorial from Microsoft called Mouse, touchpad, and keyboard problems in Windows

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Computer Support in London
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