Most laptops come with a touchpad that many users see as a simple mouse replacement. Most touchpads support more than just left-clicking, right-clicking, and scrolling. While it relies to some extent on the trackpad and its controller, many allow users to use two-, three-, or four-finger actions and actions other than the basic ones.
Take the touchpad of my ASUS Zenbook on Windows 11 as an example. It comes with a toggle to turn it into a number pad, supports zoom, multi-tap, and three- and four-finger gestures, among other things. You can configure these options in Windows 11 settings and disable those you don’t need.
Setting up your laptop’s touchpad in Windows 11
Select Start and then Settings to get started. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Windows-I to open the Settings app faster. Switch to Bluetooth and devices and select Touchpad on the page that opens.
The touchpad page in Settings lists all the available options, including one to turn off the touchpad entirely. The touchpad may not be needed if a mouse is connected to the device, and turning it off can prevent accidental touchpad activity.
You will find an option to change the cursor speed at the top. If it’s too slow or fast for your liking, you can use the slider to speed it up or slow it down,
The remaining four options define actions and must be expanded for configuration.
Taps is the first and all of its options are enabled by default. The four main actions are:
- Tap with a single finger to make a single click.
- Press the lower right corner of the touchpad to right-click.
- Tap with two fingers to right-click.
- Double tap and drag to make a multiple selection.
Left and right click functionality is essential, but there are two options for performing a right click. Uncheck any of the actions to disable them and prevent accidental activation. There is also an option to change the touchpad sensitivity from medium to low, high or maximum. The first one reduces the sensitivity, the other two increase it.
Scroll & Zoom is the second group of settings. All options are also enabled by default. The two main options configure the pinch-to-zoom and two-finger drag-to-scroll functionality. These can be disabled if they are not needed.
Considering that zooming is otherwise quite difficult without the mouse, most users may want to keep the zoom option enabled.
The third and last option in Scroll & Zoom defines the direction of scrolling. By default, a flick down scrolls up, but this can be changed to scroll down.
Three-finger and four-finger gestures each define five actions that are executed by moving three or four fingers on the touchpad, or by tapping with the correct number of fingers.
Both options are enabled by default and are very similar. Swipes up and down with three or four fingers open the multitasking view or show the desktop. Three-finger swipes to the left or right let users switch between apps, while the four-finger gesture lets them switch desktops.
A three-finger tap opens search, a four-finger tap opens notification center. Windows 11 includes options to customize the functionality to some extent. In addition to turning actions off completely, it is possible to change a set of actions to control the volume on the device. This allows users to increase or decrease the volume, or play the previous or next track.
Touch actions include options to assign them a middle mouse button or play/pause function.
Options to change gestures are also available. Simply select the Advanced Gestures link in Settings to change tap and swipe actions for three-finger and four-finger gestures. For tapping, for example, options are provided to emulate forward and backward mouse actions, or to set a custom keyboard shortcut. Some new actions are also available for gestures.
The main actions of touchpads in Windows 11 go beyond replicating basic mouse functionality. Left-clicking and right-clicking are essential, but other actions like two-finger dragging to pan, pinch-to-zoom, or mapping a three-finger tap to a middle mouse button action are all useful.
Configuration options give users some control over touchpad functionality. Actions that are not required can be disabled to prevent accidental activation.
Now you: Touchpad or mouse, which do you prefer?