DIY

DIY: How to disable a touchpad pad and use an external USB mouse

In this Q&A with a TechRepublic member, DIY blogger Jack Wallen offers advice on how to disable a touchpad mouse on a Dell Inspiron and continue to use an external USB mouse.

Here's a question I recently received from a TechRepublic member. After you read my answer, please post any additional tips you have for the member in the discussion.

Q: I have a problem with my Laptop that I can't solve. I want to disable the Touch-Pad mouse and continue to use an external USB mouse. I'm using Windows 7 on a Dell Inspiron 4 year old pc. Can you help me please? A: I certainly can. There are two possible ways this can be achieved. The first is from within the BIOS. Some laptop manufacturers add options to disable touchpads within the BIOS. If you cannot disable the touchpad there, Dell Inspiron laptops usually have a touchpad icon in the system tray. If you right-click that icon (it looks like a monitor with a flashing green dot), you can then click Disable | Touchpad Buttons and then click Disable Touchpad/Stick when a USB Pointing Device is Present. Click Apply and then click OK. Once that feature is enabled, any time you plug in a mouse, the touchpad will be disabled. I hope that helps! Ask Jack: If you have a DIY question, email it to me, and I'll do my best to answer it. (Read guidelines about submitting DIY questions.)

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

8 comments
Deluxy
Deluxy

Search the registry for this: [b]DisableTouchPadIfMousePresent[/b] If it is there, try changing the value from [b]0[/b] to [b]1[/b]. See if that does the trick. If not immediate, restart, and see if that helps. - Mike

Ron_007
Ron_007

My touchpad continued to work after I plugged in the external mouse. So rather than futzing around with software I went with a simple hardware solution. DUCT TAPE and a piece of paper over top of the touchpad. No more touch on the pad ... no more problem.

DimBulb
DimBulb

My Lenovo T61 allows me to have both functional at the same time. I seldom take a mouse with me when I leave the shop, relying completely on the touchpad. I am running XP Pro, maybe that makes a difference.

jjcanaday
jjcanaday

... and, I realize it was not part of the original question but.... How do you make the touchpad disable If and Only If a USB mouse is connected. If I disable in the manner you suggest, then leave the mouse behind, it can be a pain to re-enable the touchpad without a working pointing device. I believe I've read that some laptops have that feature cooked in... and I know some even have a hard switch to enable/disable the touchpad (Hoorah for them!!). Unfortunately, I have neither option.

jjcanaday
jjcanaday

...on a laptop from a previous employer. It's not as big a deal on my current laptop. And yes; the answer to the "Why" question is as everyone else has said, if the touchpad is too close to the space bar, you can inadvertently hit the touchpad while touch-typing and have the cursor jump on you, causing you to suddenly start typing in the middle of a previous paragraph (or block of code!). It seems some touchpads just do not support this feature.

Rayezilla
Rayezilla

I've had people ask me this multiple times. The problem is that on some laptops, when you're typing a long paper or article, it's possible to 'bump' the touchpad unintentionally, which jumps the cursor randomly to another section of the paper. The two options in the article are 'quick fixes' to this problem.

Vineet369
Vineet369

Quote, "Once that feature is enabled, any time you plug in a mouse, the touchpad will be disabled." I think, Jack means the same thing, that whenever you plug in the mouse touchpad would be disabled, otherwise it would function as usual.

d.j.elliott
d.j.elliott

I have a Dell and while I am typing along the screen will jump and something stupid like add to favorites comes up. I figure my palm must somehow engage the touchpad on the Dell. I have an HP laptop at work and it never happens, so go figure. I love the idea of disabling the touchpad. thanks