What is Touchpad?

The touchpad is known as an inbuilt mouse, also having so many names like a trackpad, glide pad and many more. During the 90s the touchpad came with the laptop, a better alternative for a mouse, trackball and even pointing stick.

Touchpad had become very popular leaving behind a trackball and pointing device. Nowadays trackpad is found in every laptop. Touchpad does not require a flat surface near the laptop like the mouse. It is very portable and can be carried everywhere.

Understanding Touchpad in Laptop

Understanding Touchpad in Laptop

The touchpad in a laptop is an input device which contains a small panel containing different touch-sensitive areas.

Touchpad also has many names like a trackpad, pressure-sensitive tablet, glide pad or glide point.

One device having so many names happened because of confusion caused among the people in the 1990s people were confused and had no common name for a touchpad which was attached to the laptop, while some called it a trackpad and some glide point and many called it a touchpad.

Touchpad then had no common name and the conclusion to name this input device continued before people had options like the touchpad, trackball or pointing stick.

But in the early 2000s, touchpad in the laptop has started gaining grounds and have become very dominant replacing the other two (trackball and pointing stick).

The trackpad in a laptop is an alternative to the mouse and it is used for pointing on the computer displaying screen. The touchpad is used in laptops and works by sensing one’s finger’s movement and pressure.

It is used to control the cursor on the mouse pointer. The touchpad comes with two buttons one on the left and the other on the right which works like the right and the left mouse buttons.

One will understand that clicking on the right button with their finger is the same as the right mouse click and clicking on the left button with their finger is the same as the left mouse click.

While some touchpad does not have left and right buttons also known as a buttonless touchpad.

A quick tap on the touchpad on the left side is the same as the left click and a quick tap on the right side of the touchpad is a same as the right click.

Even with the double click one can tap the left button twice or for a touchpad, without buttons one can click the touchpad device quickly to double click similar to the mouse.

While one can touch and use the touchpad as an alternative for a mouse in a laptop.

The touchpad comes with many layers of material. The top layer is the one which is visible to everyone and the user and one can even touch it.

Beneath the top player, there are layers which are shielded containing vertical horizontal electrodes in rows that form a grid and beneath those layers.

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There is a circuit board which is connected to the electrode layers, as soon as one puts its fingers on the touchpad (electrode grid) the electrode layers are interrupted and this interruption is detected by the circuit board.

The location of the finger touching the pad is registered so that the following finger movement will be to the initial point.

There is the touchpad which contains two special places when pressure is applied by clicking on the left or right button similar to the left and the right mouse button whereas, other touchpads sense single or double taps of the finger anywhere on the touchpad.

Operation of a touchpad can be in several ways like the capacitive sensing and resistive touchscreen, the most common technology used in the 2010s where the change of capacitance is sensed.

When a finger touches the pad these capacitance-based touchpads will not send the tip of a pencil or anything as such.

Even if one wears a glove while using the touchpad will not send the finger touchpad in a laptop can sense positions and resolutions is limited by their size, which the hardware buttons are equivalent to the mouse’s button (left and right) which are adjacently positioned on the Touchpad.

Sometimes touchpad functions way beyond a mouse, like having hotspots where one can move the finger along the edge of the touchpad and it will work as a scroll wheel controlling the scroll bar horizontally or vertically.

There are many more features which come with different touchpads and all of these functions are present in the touchpad device driver software where one can even disable it if needed.

Many do not find using a touchpad convenient; all modern laptops come with a USB port where one can connect the mouse like on the computer. USB mouse is available for laptops.

Types of Touchpads

Since pointing devices are very important on the laptop because a laptop doesn’t come with a mouse and since the mouse was not so portable, touchpad gained hegemony soon in the early 2000s.

Having several names since technology has come so far from a traditional wired mouse to a wireless mouse but for laptops, the rectangular shape, touch-sensitive pad in the middle of the palm rest is very common these days one can find many types of touchpad these days.

Used since 1992 the pointing stick is a classic alternative of the touchpad and back then the pointing stick was more popular. The pointing stick is a rubber nub placed in the centre of the keyboard of the laptop.

One has to place the finger on the nub and push it in the direction one wishes to move the cursor, that is similar to the trackball mouse.

It has two buttons on the left and the right of the keystone (which is used to scroll using the point stick) for right and left click even though it was quite popular back then, it was out stood by touchpads in the 2000s.

Came first in the era of the touchpad was the Traditional touchpad.

Touchpad these days having touch-sensitive parts place on the centre of the laptop palm rest and is rectangular, moving one’s finger across the surface of the pad like a mouse.

But the touchpad which also consisted of two buttons placed on the right and the left side of the touchpad is known as the traditional touchpad which with changing times and technology the touchpad having buttons on the right and the left and centre has taken a backseat.

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The right-left and sometimes the centre buttons are used for selecting keys similar to the mouse for right and left-click. It was very simple to use and had quick buttons and a very simple touchpad.

Popular Touchpad of this time on laptops is the Buttonless touchpad also known as a click pad.

The entire surface is a big button, one can press anywhere on the left for a left-click and anywhere on the right for the right click there has been a drastic improvement on the touchpads over the years.

Clicking and using the button’s touchpad is very easy and very convenient for people of this generation.

A distinct type of laptop uses a Static/Haptic Feedback touchpad.

Unlike the sensitivity of a traditional touchpad which has a spring built to let the user know if the user has clicked the right/left button but in a Haptic touchpad, one can click the trackpad but the surface does not move.

It works all over the touchpad and one can sign their name with their fingers like a pen, even like the force click and many more. This Touchpad is mostly found in the latest laptops these days.

Uses of Touchpads

Advantages of Touchpad in Laptop

The advantages of a touchpad in a laptop are as follows:-

1. Movement

For a touchpad, very short finger movements are required to move the cursor. One doesn’t have to move its finger all over the laptop to reach the end or edge of the laptop screen. With smooth movements, a touchpad becomes very easy to use.

2. Position

The position of the Touchpad is fixed in the laptop. It is an input device.

The laptop is also an in-built mouse since it is in-built, the touchpad is fixed in one place in between the palm rest and below the keyboard for one’s convenience.

3. Reliability

One can use a touchpad in a laptop and it makes the usage of a mouse unnecessary in front of a laptop.

Because it doesn’t have any parts wearing out over time and it gives fewer problems like having a mouse attached to the laptop. One can always use a Touchpad by using the laptop.

4. Portable

A Touchpad is portable and does not take the extra weight and extra place like the mouse. Being inbuilt a laptop can be taken anywhere.

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The need for a mouse isn’t required because the touchpad does the work similar to the mouse and is present in the laptop.

5. Surface

The part comes with a smooth surface causing better use of the touchpad.

Making it feel frictionless when one is resting its fingers on the surface and does it prevents the movement of the cursor.

6. Buttons

The buttons in the touchpad are quiet compared to the mouse buttons.

For instance, if someone else is sitting on the other side of the room that person will not be able to hear the clicking sound it makes while using a touchpad, unlike using a mouse.


Disadvantages of Touchpad in a laptop are as follows:-

7. Control

To properly know how to use a touchpad, one needs to properly practice, to control the touchpad.

It becomes very vexing for the ones who do not know how to use a touchpad. Many people who are new to using a touchpad find it difficult to use it.

8. Touch

The sensors do not let any other object than fingers to navigate the cursor on the screen.

The ones wearing gloves will find it very difficult to use the touchpad. Places like industries where everyone wears gloves will face problems and it becomes very vexing to use a touchpad, then.

9. Better  Alternatives

A Touchpad may have a lot of alternatives where the best alternative for a Touchpad is a mouse.

Many who do not find it convenient to use a Touchpad or the ones who cannot operate a touchpad find the mouse to be a better alternative.

Since a USB mouse is available many opt for a mouse than using a touchpad on the laptop.

The ones playing games also opt for a mouse on the laptop as well.

10. Surface

Due to the physical placement of the touchpad, the surface of the touchpad is small and many users find it difficult to use the touchpad resulting in them switching back to the mouse.

11. Keys

The left and the right keys in the touchpad are harder to find or use compared to the regular USB mouse and users face more problems with the buttonless touchpad, where finding the right and left buttons are difficult if one doesn’t know how to use them.

12. Sensitivity

Users who do not know about altering the sensitivity setting of the touchpad while buying a laptop may find themselves to be stuck in a problem.

The touchpad does not scroll across the screen in one go until one doesn’t alter the sensitivity setting of the cursor.


Even though touchpads have evolved from the traditional to buttonless and Static/Haptic Feedback touchpads.

The touchpads have a competition with the USB and the Wireless Mouse, these days.

There are many variations of a pointing device and to conclude there are many options and now it depends on one’s personal experience.