How to Fix a Mouse Pointer That Jumps

Raise your hand if this has happened to you: You're typing along in your word processor when suddenly your cursor jumps somewhere else, often long before you even realize it. The result can be long chunks of text typed into the wrong place. It's a hassle at best and an editing nightmare at worst.

Screenshot of a mouse pointer.
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Then most likely culprit

What causes this? While it's always possible there's some kind of glitch with your mouse or mouse driver--and honestly, that can be REALLY hard to troubleshoot--cursor-jumps are very often the result of you accidentally grazing your laptop's touchpad.

Think about it: that device responds to touch. (It's right there in the name.) So while you're typing along, if your palm or thumb makes even the slightest contact with the touchpad, your cursor will jump to wherever it's currently resting on the screen -- same as if you'd intentionally tapped the touchpad with a finger.

If you're looking away, like when transcribing notes from a sheet of paper, it's easy to miss that jump, and that's when you end up with misplaced text.

Okay, but what can you do about it? There are three possible fixes for this problem.

Plug in a mouse

On many laptops, when the system detects an external mouse, it will automatically deactivate the touchpad. So whether you plug in a USB mouse or set up a wireless one, it may solve the problem straight away. (If not, check the mouse driver software that's installed on the laptop. You may need to manually enable this option.)

Look for a touchpad-deactivation key

Some laptops let you turn off the touchpad yourself. On an Asus UX305F, for example, pressing Fn-F9 disables the touchpad, while still allowing an external mouse to operate. Consult your laptop manual to see if your system has a similar option. Or just scan the function keys to see if there's anything that looks like a touchpad with a slash or an X through it. If so, that's your touchpad toggle key.

Try the mouse software settings

Windows 10 includes a feature designed to help minimize the accidental-click problem. To access it, click in the search bar, type "mouse," and then click "Mouse & touchpad settings."

Screenshot of Windows 10 mouse settings
credit: Rick Broida/Techwalla

In the Touchpad settings area, click the pulldown menu and set it to Medium delay. That should solve the problem described above, while still allowing you to use your touchpad normally. The delay in recognizing touchpad taps should happen only when Windows detects typing. If you're still experiencing the issue, try adjusting the delay to Long.

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