How to Diagnose Touchpad Problems

By Ticara Gailliard

Most laptops on the market feature a small square near the keyboard known as the touchpad. Your laptop’s touchpad functions as its mouse and lets you click, scroll, and move documents, just as you would with a conventional mouse. Rather than moving a mouse, you simply use your finger to control the computer cursor. From time to time, though, you may experience technical problems with your touchpad, such as unresponsiveness. Troubleshooting the touchpad is fairly simple to do.

Things You'll Need

  • Damp cloth
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Dry cloth
  • Touchpad driver download

Troubleshooting Steps

Step 1

Clean off the touchpad. Many times, issues with the touchpad becoming unresponsive have to do with the fact that the surface is dirty and therefore can’t register your finger movements. Since the touchpad is sensitive material, take care when cleaning it. Use a damp washcloth with a small amount of rubbing alcohol on it. Wipe in vertical movements, then horizontal. Dab the area dry with a dry cloth.

Step 2

Disable the touchpad lock. Sometimes, when using your computer, you may accidentally lock your touchpad by pressing a certain sequence of keys. If you think this may be the case, try finding the key combination to unlock your touchpad. Hold down the Function button, then begin pushing the function keys, F1 through F12. The key combination varies among computer brands.

Step 3

Check your touchpad’s settings. They may have somehow become changed, rendering your touchpad non-functioning. Click "Start," then "Control Panel." When the Control Panel window opens, select "Mouse." This should bring up touchpad settings. Double-check that your touchpad is still enabled, then check that the touchpad is not set to settings that will alter the sensitivity of the touchpad. After checking your settings, test the touchpad to see if it’s fixed.

Step 4

Update your touchpad’s driver. Navigate to your computer manufacturer’s website and look up your laptop, then check for touchpad driver updates. Download and install the update. Restart your computer.

Step 5

Update your computer hardware and BIOS. Click your "Start" menu, then search for "Windows Update." Open Windows Update and click "Check For Updates." If any are found, download and install them, then check your touchpad’s functionality. From your computer manufacturer’s website, search for any hardware updates, including one to your BIOS. Download and install all recommended updates.

Step 6

Uninstall, then reinstall your touchpad’s driver. The driver may have become corrupted. Download the driver from your laptop manufacturer’s website, then uninstall the current driver by removing it from your Add/Remove Programs list. Once it has been uninstalled, install the new download of the driver and restart your computer.

Step 7

Check program incompatibility. If you recently installed a program or attached an external mouse to your laptop, try removing the new hardware and checking to see if your touchpad will work without them. If so, then your touchpad has a compatibility issue with whatever you installed.