The touchpad is an age-old feature, having long since replaced the “pointing stick” (or what I liked to call the “nipple”) as the standardized alternative to mouse control on a laptop. But if your touchpad stops working while you’re on the move or in another situation when you don’t have a spare mouse handy, you can end up stranded.
Don’t start training yourself to use Windows with only a keyboard just yet. Here’s our collection of tips on how to fix a malfunctioning touchpad (starting with the simplest).
Note: you’ll need an external mouse or touchscreen to go through some of these tips. Also, the following fixes are for laptops running Windows OS. But we can help you fix trackpad problems on macOS and Linux too.
1. Turn on Touchpad in Settings
It may seem obvious, but there’s a possibility that your touchpad isn’t switched on within Windows settings. (This could have happened when you connected an external mouse, for example.) Luckily, Windows laptops have a dedicated Touchpad setting hidden away in the Windows 10 Settings app.
To enable your touchpad, press the Win key, then type Touchpad and go to “Touchpad settings.” Once here, make sure the touchpad button is set to “On.” Also, make sure that the cursor speed isn’t set to “0” for some strange reason.
2. HP Touchpad Not Working
There’s an issue that’s been specifically affecting HP laptop users on more recent versions of Windows 10. Some plucky users found that the problem stemmed from the serial IO drivers (that let the laptop communicate with external devices, including the touchpad), which were out of date.
You need to download and install the latest IO drivers first. To begin, go to the HP driver packs page so you can check which driver pack matches up with your HP laptop model. The drivers also need to match up with your Windows version (2004, 1909, etc.), which you can check by going to “Settings -> System -> About,” then scrolling down to “Windows specifications.”
Once you’ve found the driver pack you need, you can either download it at the above link or go to to the HP FTP server (ftp://ftp.hp.com/pub/softpaq/) and get the correct drivers. (Sometimes the latest drivers appear here before they get to the HP support page.)
3. Disconnect External Mouse
It’s not super-common, but there are laptop models out there that automatically switch off your touchpad when you connect an external mouse. The solution in this case is simple: unplug the USB mouse and turn off your Bluetooth mouse if you have one.
My Bluetooth mouse, for instance, doesn’t turn off automatically, so if it’s anywhere in the room – even in a drawer – it will “connect” to my PC. Be wary of that.
4. Touchpad Disable Zone
If that doesn’t fix the issue, there may be a small square logo at the top-left corner of your laptop touchpad. If you have this logo, then double-tapping it enables and disables your touchpad, so there’s a chance that you disabled it accidentally.
Try double-tapping that logo to see if your touchpad comes back to life.
If you find yourself disabling your touchpad accidentally this way, you can disable this feature by going to “Settings -> Devices -> Touchpad -> Additional settings -> Touchpad Entry -> Settings -> Touchpad Disable Zone” and unticking “Double Tap to Disable Touchpad.”
5. Is the Trackpad Disabled in the BIOS?
There’s a chance that, for reasons unknown, your laptop touchpad is disabled in the motherboard BIOS of your laptop. (This could happen after a firmware update, for example.)
To check if this is the case, enter the BIOS by repeatedly pressing the Delete or F2 key as your PC is booting. (The button you need to press may vary.)
Likewise, the BIOS for different motherboards has a different layout, but your goal is to find an option called “Internal Pointing Device” or similar, then make sure it’s enabled. This may be under the “Advanced” heading if you have one. Once you’ve done this, select the option “Save Changes and Exit.”
6. Re-enable Your Touchpad Using the “Fn” Key
This happened to me several years ago. Perhaps while trying to use a Fn key to change the volume on my laptop, I disabled my touchpad by pressing the wrong button. For weeks I didn’t know what the issue was, which wasn’t helped by the touchpad function icon on my keyboard looking just like a monitor icon. It took me a while to realize that maybe it was, in fact, a touchpad icon.
While holding the Fn key, press every function button (the “F” keys) with a symbol on it that looks like it could be your touchpad to see if it switches back on. (Bear in mind, you may turn off your screen this way, so just press that button again if that happens.)
7. Remove Other Mouse Drivers
Have you plugged a whole bunch of mice into your laptop in the past and never removed their drivers? If so, there’s a chance their drivers are interfering with your touchpad. (Some mouse drivers even disable your touchpad automatically!)
Go to Device Manager, click the arrow next to “Mice and other pointing devices,” then right-click and uninstall mice one by one until your touchpad starts working again.
8. Update or Roll Back Touchpad Driver
While you’re in Device Manager, right-click your touchpad in the list (it may be called Dell TouchPad, Lenovo TouchPad, Synaptics, or similar, depending on the brand of your PC), and make sure that it’s definitely enabled. If it is, click “Update driver” to see if there are any updates for it that may help.
Finally, many people reported that their touchpads stopped working properly after getting Windows 10, which means that the W10 driver for your touchpad may be misbehaving. In Device Manager, right-click your touchpad, then click “Properties” and “Roll Back Driver” to see if a previous version of the driver fixes the problem.
9. Enable Your Touchpad in “Mouse Properties”
In many cases, Device Manager doesn’t handle the enabling and disabling of your touchpad. If your touchpad somehow got disabled, then to switch it back on, you’ll need to go to your Windows mouse properties to re-enable it.
mouse into the Windows Search bar and go to Mouse Settings. Here, click “Additional mouse options,” then in the new window, go to “Device Settings,” “Touchpad,” or whichever tab is at the far right of the window.
Find your touchpad in the list, select it, then click “Enable.”
10. Disable Tablet PC Input Service
If your Windows 10 laptop is a hybrid and has a touchscreen, there’s a possibility that the Tablet PC Input Service, which controls stylus functionality, is interfering with your touchpad. If you don’t really use the stylus anyway, then it won’t be a big loss to disable it. If you do use it, however, you have to decide whether you want to go through the inconvenience of toggling this service on and off each time you want to use your touchpad.
To disable Tablet Input Service, hit Win + R, then type
services.msc in the box. In the list of services, scroll down until you find “TabletInputService” or “Tablet PC Input Service.” Right-click it, then disable it.
Remember that different laptops may have different update driver software for their touchpads, so these instructions may vary slightly, but for the most part, they should point you in the right direction.