How to Disable a Laptop Touchpad for Linux

If you've got a laptop, you'll no doubt notice your touchpad. Most people don't mind it, but some people really don't like the thing. As cool as it is to be able to temporarily disable the touchpad, wouldn't you rather have the ability to fully shut it off at startup? It's possible. I should know as I've been using a custom .desktop file on my laptops for close to two years. It's just one line of code in a .desktop file.

Disable the Touchpad Temporary

Touchpad-indicator is an appindicator that allows you to manage the touchpad directly from the system tray. It is simple, lightweight, and it just works.


Open a terminal and type the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:atareao/atareao
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install touchpad-indicator


Once installed, you should see a touchpad icon at your system tray. All you have to do is to right click on it and select "Disable Touchpad" and your touchpad will be instantly disabled.


If you head to its Preferences section, you will create your own shortcut key to enable/disable the touchpad. This is useful when your touchpad is disabled and you want to turn it back on again. The shortcut is OFF by default, so make sure you turn it on before you disable the touchpad.


For those who are using external mouse, you will be glad to know that it comes with an option to "disable touchpad when mouse plugged". Other options include "Enable touchpad on exit", "disable touchpad on exit" and "disable touchpad when touchpad-indicator starts".


The General options tab contains standard settings like "Autostart", "Start hidden" and "show notifications" etc.

One thing that is seriously missing from the app is the functionality "disable touchpad while typing". You can either disable or enable the touchpad, there is no middle point to detect any typing and disable the touchpad momentarily. Other than that, this is almost the perfect app to manage your touchpad.

Disable the Touchpad on Startup

Making the .Desktop file

Open up your text editor of choice and paste the code below into it.

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Disable touchpad
GenericName=Touchpad disabler
Comment=Disables touchpad
Exec=synclient TouchpadOff=1

Once pasted, save the file inside "/home/USERNAME/.config/autostart" as "disable-touchpad.desktop".


Note: If you can't figure out how to save in hidden folders, just save it to your home folder, open a terminal and enter:

mv disable-touchpad.desktop ~/.config/autostart

Open a terminal and enter the following commands to make the file executable. Making the file executable is super important. If you don't, the file won't run.

cd ~/.config/autostart
sudo chmod +x disable-touchpad.desktop

Once the file is in the autostart folder, all you need to do is reboot your machine. In doing so, you'll notice that you can no longer use your touchpad at all. Obviously, this is because of the .desktop file that was just placed.

Re-enabling the touchpad

If you want to permanently re-enable the touchpad, navigate your file manager to ~/.config/autostart and delete the "disable-touchpad.desktop" file. However, if you just need it temporarily, enter the following command into a terminal.

synclient TouchpadOff=0

Changing 0 to 1 is akin to True and False. 1 keeps it disabled, 0 keeps it off. Knowing this command is great, because you can just enable it for as long as you need it, then just reboot (or turn your machine off) and when you turn it back on, the touchpad will be once again disabled.


The touchpad is an essential part of mobile computing. It's a really great tool if you don't really feel like carrying a mouse around. Some people, however, hate touchpads and no matter how much convenience it brings, they just wont use it. This is understandable. For the longest time, I have despised them. There's just something about them that has always irritated me. I'm not quite sure what it is, but I do know that I'd rather use a mouse.

Some might argue that it's better to just use your laptop's hardware to disable the touchpad. This is understandable, but the thing is, hardware disabling can be hit or miss with some Linux laptops. Sometimes functions just don't work, and it can be extremely frustrating. The very laptop I am writing this article on can't disable my touchpad. This is why doing it via software is great. It works on everything and can be automated.

Derrik Diener

Derrik Diener is a freelance technology blogger.

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