One of the more undocumented features of Windows 10's Creator's Update is its virtual touchpad. With the update Windows 10 has the ability to put a touchpad on-screen which you can interact with as if it were a physical touchpad. It's understandable if you've never seen the feature, as it's quite well-hidden! Once enabled, it can be a great help to users who need a virtual touchpad on-screen to perform tasks.
Why Enable It?
First, let's look at why someone would want to use a virtual touchpad in Windows 10. If you're using a mouse or a physical touchpad to control your cursor, it may seem redundant to have a secondary means of cursor control, so what's it used for?
The importance of the virtual touchpad becomes evident when you put Windows 10 onto a touchscreen. These days Windows 10 can find itself on tablets or transformer laptops where navigation via touchscreen is important. It's not always convenient (or even possible!) for these devices to have a mouse attached to them. The virtual touchpad fills this niche, allowing touchscreen users to move the cursor manually.
There are a few reasons why someone would opt for a virtual touchpad over touchscreen controls. If you find yourself wanting to perform tasks involving hovering the cursor over items, it's easier to do it on a touchpad then using touch controls. If you're using a touchscreen and want to extend your desktop to a second monitor that doesn't have a touchscreen, it's impossible to interact with the extended part of the desktop. In this instance, a virtual touchpad allows you to access the second monitor and interact with it.
Activating the Virtual Touchpad
Activating the virtual touchpad can be done by right-clicking (or, if you're using the touchscreen, long-pressing and releasing) the task bar and selecting "Show touchpad button." You'll only see this option if you're using Windows 10 on a device that has touchscreen functionality.
You'll now see a button on your taskbar that resembles a touchpad.
When clicked, the virtual touchpad will open.
You can interact with this touchpad with either the cursor or the touchscreen. Other than the fact it's on-screen, it should work identically to a physical touchpad on a laptop. The two lower buttons are for left- and right-click, and the main box is for moving the cursor around. Just stroke your finger across the touchpad as if it were a physical one, and Windows 10 will translate your strokes into cursor movements.
Using and Customising Gestures
Advanced users will also discover that Windows 10's touchpad gestures work on its virtual one. Gestures are a nice way of getting additional functionality with very little effort. If you want to set gestures up, click on the Start button and then the Settings cog on the left.
Click on "Devices."
On the left side click on "Touchpad."
On the right are a lot of options for setting gestures. All of these will work with the virtual touchpad, so make sure to go through them all and set the ones you want to use. To use these gestures on the virtual touchpad, simply perform them on the pad like you would on a physical touchpad.
Virtually the Same
With Windows 10 appearing on touchscreen devices, some users would like a way to directly control the cursor for specific tasks. Using the virtual touchpad you can move the cursor as you would on a physical one so you're not held back by the restrictions of a touchscreen.
Do you see yourself using a virtual touchpad in Windows 10? Let us know below!
Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox