Windows 10 now has enhanced touchpad capabilities built into it

Windows 10 logo and pointing fingerIf you regularly use the touchpad of your laptop rather than a mouse, then you will undoubtedly know that some things are a bit awkward. Take scrolling down a webpage quickly, for instance. This involves:

1) Moving the cursor (using the touchpad) up to the scrolling “slider”
2) Clicking on the lefthand side of the touchpad and then simultaneously dragging a finger from the top towards the bottom of the touchpad.

And, yes, it’s as awkward to carry out that procedure as it is to explain it. Maybe that’s why I see many of my IT Support clients scrolling down a web page by moving the cursor to the “up” or “down” controls at the top and bottom of scrolling bars and then just depressing on one of these controls until the scrolling has (eventually) taken the view to the right place (yawn).

2-fingered touchpad gesturePrior to Windows 10, there was no universal way of doing any better than this. It’s true that different touchpads had different techniques for streamlining actions such as this, but the controls were buried quite deep in the Windows Control Panel (usually as sub-options of the Mouse Configuration) and the controls varied between touchpads. This made it messy to get to grips with and everything could change if you got your hands on a different machine. I, for one, never bothered learning the gestures as I would undoubtedly get confused when moving between different machines. I also judged that most of my IT Support clients would likewise prefer to keep things simple.

With Windows 10, we now have common touchpad gestures built into the operating system itself that should work on any Windows 10 laptop. So, I think it’s far more likely than before that a small time investment will be repaid in increased productivity. I think this is is especially true as we use smartphones and tablets more and more, so we are becoming much more familiar with the idea of “multi touch gestures”.

So, to whet your appetite, here’s just three of the multi-touch gestures built into Windows 10 that I think are definitely worth learning:

Vertical scrolling – move two fingers simultaneously up and down the touchpad from anywhere within the window you wish to scroll.

Right-click – tap with two fingers simultaneously to produce the mouse equivalent of right-clicking (ie invoking a “context menu”).

Pinch to zoom (eg in web browsers – this won’t work in most other programs).

I will no doubt find the three and four fingered gestures very useful as well, but it takes a bit of determination to keep checking what does what and then remembering to use the options. To see the entire range of configuration items for the touchpad and all the gestures available:

  • Click on the “Start” button
  • Type the word “touchpad” (without the quotes)
  • Click on any of the options that are listed

Touchpad - 4-finger gestures

There are several gestures available that involve three or four fingers

You can easily scroll up and down between the options to see all configuration items for the touchpad (including the ability to turn it off completely or turn down its sensitivity if your cursor jumps around when you are typing). Features can be turned on or off by clicking on the tick (or empty box) that precedes the item.

Although we can configure gestures to some extent, it would be nice if we could define our own. For instance, I would like to be able to minimise the current window with a simple touchpad gesture. Maybe such an option will appear as if by magic in one of the forthcoming (and interminable) Windows updates.

© 2011-2017 David Leonard
Computer Support in London
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