Most laptops come with a touchpad that many computer users think of as a simple mouse replacement. Most touchpads support more than just left-clicking, right-clicking, and scrolling. Although it depends to some extent on the touchpad and its driver, many allow users to use two-, three-, or four-finger actions, and other actions in addition to the basics.
Take my ASUS Zenbook’s Windows 11 touchpad for example. It comes with a toggle to turn it into a numeric keypad, supports zooming, multi-tapping, and three- and four-finger gestures, among other things. You can configure these options in Windows 11 settings and disable the ones you don’t need.
Configure your laptop’s touchpad in Windows 11
Select Start, then Settings to begin. You can also use the Windows-I keyboard shortcut to open the Settings app faster. Switch to Bluetooth and devices, then select Touchpad on the page that opens.
The Touchpad page in settings lists all available options, including one to completely turn off the touchpad. The touchpad may not be needed if a mouse is connected to the device, and disabling it may prevent accidental touchpad activity.
You’ll find an option to change the cursor speed at the top. If it’s too slow or too fast for your liking, you can use the slider to speed it up or slow it down,
The remaining four options define actions and must be expanded for configuration.
Taps is the first and all of its options are enabled by default. The four main actions are:
- Tap with a single finger for a single click.
- Press the bottom right corner of the touchpad to right-click.
- Tap with two fingers to right-click.
- Double-tap and drag to select multiple times.
Left and right click functionality is essential, but there are two options for performing a right click. Uncheck any of the actions to disable them and prevent accidental activation. There is also an option to change the touchpad sensitivity from medium to low, high or maximum. The first reduces sensitivity, the other two increase it.
Scroll & Zoom is the second group of settings. All options are also enabled by default. The two main options configure pinch-to-zoom and two-finger swipe-to-scroll functionality. These can be disabled if not needed.
Considering that zooming is quite difficult without a mouse, most users might want to keep the zoom option enabled.
The third and final option under Scroll & Zoom sets the scroll direction. By default, a downward scroll scrolls up, but this can be overridden by a downward scroll.
The three-finger and four-finger gestures each define five actions that are performed when you move three or four fingers on the touchpad or when you tap with the correct number of fingers.
Both options are enabled by default and very similar. Up and down swipes with three or four fingers open the multitasking view or show the desktop. Three-finger swipes left or right allow users to switch apps, while the four-finger gesture allows users to switch desktops instead.
A three-finger tap opens the search, a four-finger tap opens the notification center. Windows 11 includes options to customize functionality to some extent. Besides completely disabling actions, it is possible to switch a set of actions to volume control on the device. This allows users to increase or decrease the volume, or play the previous or next track.
Touch actions include options to map a middle mouse button or play/pause functionality.
The main actions for touchpads in Windows 11 go beyond replicating basic mouse functionality. Left-click and right-click are essential, but other actions, including two-finger swipe to scroll, pinch to zoom, or mapping a three-finger tap to a middle mouse button action are all useful.
Configuration options give users some control over the functionality of the touchpad. Actions that are not required can be disabled to prevent accidental activation. It’s a bit unfortunate that Windows limits touchpad gestures to a few; more customization options would definitely improve functionality for some users.
Now you: touchpad or mouse, which do you prefer?