The Ins and Outs of Trackpads

Trackpads Or Touchpads

This article provides you with the ins and outs of trackpads from basic information through to current features of trackpads.

Basic Information on Trackpads

A trackpad (which is also known as a touchpad) originally started out life on laptops (notebooks), but their application is now more widespread.  It is a device used to move a point on a monitor or display.  It uses tactile sensors to interpret the pressure of your finger or now fingers which it translates into moving the cursor on the screen.  It also has different touch sensitive areas that allow you to do different things – such as left click and right click.

Whether the trackpad is a standalone device or built into a laptop they work basically the same way.  Some makes and models will allow you to do different things but what they really do is replace the mouse.  The different models will not be discussed here this article is more a general discussion of ways of moving the cursor around the screen.

Drivers for Trackpads

First of you need to decide whether you need a trackpad or touchpad and for what computer you need it for, Apple, Microsoft, Linux or another Operating System.  That determines what drivers are included or needed.  A driver in an Operating System (OS) interfaces between the hardware (trackpad) and the OS.  Without the necessary “driver” nothing will work.  Drivers are not only OS dependent but are also version dependent.  So, for example a driver for Windows 7 may or may not work with Windows 8 or 8.1 or 10 and so on.  The same applies to all OS’s.   If you upgrade/update your OS then you may well need to update all or most of the hardware drivers.

Features of New Trackpads

Many new computers can now allow trackpads to allow gestures such as a two finger swipe left of right.  Older computers allowed you to click left and right and to move the cursor as well as generally allowing taps.  Trackpads today allow very similar gestures to a smart phone such as zooming and pinching, rotating etc things that usually cannot be achieved with a mouse.

Connection to Computer

Connections to the computer, as stated above they can be built in as with a laptop or they can be external and connected via a cable, wirelessly or via Bluetooth.  Again it all depends on make and model.  The corded variety works all the time every time whereas the Bluetooth every so often need to “reconnect” or pair again.  Wireless seems to be between the two others.  For reliability I find corded devices work effortlessly every time.

Batteries For Trackpads

Battery life is  critical in wireless and Bluetooth models.  Some devices need to have rechargeable batteries and some can use both and some will take standard alkaline batteries.  Again it depends on make and model.  Check before you buy is the safest option.  Battery strength is also a factor and if the trackpad is jerky or slow then a battery change may be necessary, it’s the first thing to try for sure.

Bluetooth and wireless trackpads have a limited distance so you may find after installing the device it doesn’t work (for example on a TV or projector) so move closer or try changing to new batteries. Most makes and models seem to take two AA batteries.  Bluetooth generally will allow the trackpad and computer/TV/projector to be up to 33 feet way (about 10 or 11 meters).  Wireless generally about the same so about 30 feet (10 meters) but again it depends on make and model and battery strength so ask before buying is the rule.

A Word of Warning

I must admit this writer does have difficulty with some of the modern laptops as the touchpad is very sensitive and mistakes can be easily made.  I have found suddenly a file disappears or a file gets copied somewhere else.  If that happens then use Ctrl  Z to “undo what just happened”.  Otherwise just be careful when using trackpads and touchpads before you get used to them.

Affordable Computer Repairs and Service

This article on the ins and outs of trackpads was written by Affordable Computer Repairs and Service a Brisbane Computer Repair business based in Coorparoo, 10 minutes south of Brisbane City.

ins and outs of trackpads