How to Troubleshoot an Intermittent Touchpad

By David Klecha

A trackpad is a convenient mouse-substitute for a laptop, adding touch sensitivity to the input suite. Like any other component, a trackpad has a chance to fail or stop working, but being integrated with the other hardware of a laptop, it can be more difficult to determine what might be wrong with a trackpad.

Things You'll Need

  • USB mouse
  • Touchpad drivers

Step 1

Clean the touchpad of any skin oils, residue or debris. The best way to do this is either with a damp cloth, or with a 50 percent solution of isopropyl alcohol on a lint-free cloth. Intermittent behavior may be a result of contact obstructed by dirt on the touchpad.

Step 2

Plug in a USB mouse and make sure that the intermittent activity is not related to the operating system or other software issues.

Step 3

Reinstall the touchpad drivers with the USB mouse still plugged in. The best way to do this is by going into the Device Manager through the System control panel. Under "Mouse and other pointing devices," select the touchpad and delete it. Go to "Action" and select "Scan for hardware changes" which should reinstall the drivers automatically.

Step 4

Update the drivers to the latest version if a simple reinstall does not work. It is possible that the installed driver archive has a corrupt file in it, causing problems with a reinstall. You should be able to download the latest version from the laptop manufacturer's website.

Step 5

Reinstall your operating system. This is obviously the most drastic step, but if the laptop is no longer under warranty, it may be the best chance at resetting everything to the factory state.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some touchpad drivers are installed as a program, so after downloading the latest version of the drivers, you may want to uninstall it from the program list to ensure you remove any corrupt or conflicted versions from the system.