How to Unlock the Touchpad on Laptops

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To better serve their function as portable computers, laptops of all types use touchpads to control cursors instead of the more traditional optical mouse. Due to their proximity to the keyboard, these touchpads can be enabled and disabled – locked and unlocked – to allow users to type freely without needing to worry about the risk of an unintended cursor movement interfering with their typing. While modern laptop designs make it easy to disable and enable the touchpad, if you've accidentally hit a key and found the mouse locked on a laptop suddenly, it can be concerning. Thankfully, you can turn on the touchpad of a laptop with a couple of key presses, without needing to worry about system settings or examining hardware.

Locking Down Touchpads

There are any number of reasons why a laptop user may wish to disable their touchpad for a time: often, this is done while typing long strings of text to prevent the cursor from moving in the event that a hand grazes the touchpad – but it is just as common for users to lock the touchpad while watching a movie, playing games, or when using a USB mouse. Locking a touchpad can be accomplished via your operating system's control panel, but more often than not a locked touchpad is the result of pressing either a single key on the keyboard or using a key command.

One Touch Unlocking

As part of an effort to make laptops accessible and easy to use, regardless of prior familiarity with computers, many laptop manufacturers have implemented keyboard designs that include dedicated function keys. Usually found either at the top or to the far right of the keyboard, these keys allow for single touch control of functions – changing audio and screen brightness settings, turning a backlit keyboard on or off, and so on. On laptops with this type of keyboard, touchpad function is often included in the list of functions. To enable the touchpad on laptops of this type, simply identify the touchpad control key: often this will be marked with an icon of the same shape as the touchpad, possibly with a cross or a crossed-through circle beside it. Touch the key, and your touchpad will accept input again.

Key Commands To Enable Touchpad

On laptops without single touch function control, managing screen brightness, speaker volume, touchpad function, and similar controls is still accomplished via the keyboard. However, lacking one touch control functions means that these commands must be entered through the use of key commands. For this reason, many laptop keyboards contain a "Fn" or Function key, that can be held down to modify the use of other keys (in the same way that holding "Shift" allows a user to type with capital letters or input a symbol). On these laptops, the F1 through F12 keys at the top of the keyboard will often have a blue icon beneath the white text. Holding the "Fn" key will allow you to use the secondary functions of these keys. As with keyboards with single touch control functions, first identify the key with a printed touchpad control icon. Once you've located it, hold down the "Fn" key, then press the key with the touchpad icon to turn on the touchpad of your laptop.

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