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So nearly all PC laptops in the past couple years have shipped with touchpads that lack physical buttons--the whole pad is a button.

Being used to Macs, I've encountered an issue with nearly every PC laptop from the last few years: resting your thumb on the bottom of the pad where the buttons used to be produces erratic behavior. The internet is filled with people experiencing the issue without finding a satisfactory resolution:

Disable a section of the mousepad?

Disable touchpad over mouse button areas

Disable buttons area - Asus Elan touchpad

Synaptics Touchpad exclude buttons from touch area

Disable touch pad for mouse button region on new HP pavillion models?

http://www.notebookreview.com/notebookreview/hp-probook-4520s-review/

http://forum.notebookreview.com/threads/elan-touchpad-any-way-to-disable-certain-area.730285/

http://h30434.www3.hp.com/t5/Notebook-Software-and-How-To-Questions/dv6-Touch-Pad-Disable-tracking-on-buttons-portion-of-touch/m-p/588075

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/10/pc-oems-ditch-the-custom-touchpad-drivers-give-us-precision-touchpad/?comments=1&post=32060323

Some people manage to fix it in Linux (!!!):

https://askubuntu.com/questions/221664/how-to-tune-touchpad-for-smaller-area

https://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=208&t=198752

https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/xserver-xorg-input-synaptics/+bug/1026046

Now, every Apply laptop I've ever used does not suffer from this problem; it correctly ignores the thumb when it is resting on the bottom part of the pad.

For those whose answer would be "just don't put your thumb on the pad, duh," you don't know what you're missing. It's an incredibly fast and precise way to position the cursor. The number of Mac users who use external mice because their trackpads seem too slow is very low, compared to PC users (anecdotally).

Does every PC laptop user adjust to their frustrating, defective touch pads or use an external mouse (defeating part of the point of a super-portable computer)?

I simply do not believe that after six years, there is no way to get this highly desirable behavior for PC laptops in 2016. There must be a way to fix this.

  • PC users have trained themselves not to do this. You're used to it and so you call it "highly desireable" and "incredibly fast and precise" when you cannot use it. Some touchpads attempt to reject "false" touches, but that is usually limited to interpreting the sorts of short touches that might be inadvertent, not ignoring something that is left resting on the touchpad for extended periods of time. – music2myear Nov 8 '16 at 0:34
  • "PC users have trained themselves not to do this." …And then they bemoan their poor-quality trackpads and get external mice. It's a real shame. In PC laptop reviews, they actually review the trackpad. On Mac laptops, nobody does because they're all so good, in part because they don't suffer from this issue. – iLikeDirt Nov 8 '16 at 2:14
  • Some may, just as some wonder why Apple has gone with such huge trackpads when your fingers are capable of much finer movements than their size would admit to. Many do not. Some trackpads are crap, but thankfully many are quite good. This is entirely an opinion issue. – music2myear Nov 8 '16 at 16:33
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    This is not an opinion issue. I am not saying, "PC trackpads are crap." I am asking if there is a solution to one very specific issue with PC trackpad software--the inability to rest your thumb on the bottom of the trackpad and use it exclusively for clicking without it being recognized for the purposes of pointing or gesturing. And I am not the only one wanting this; I posted almost a dozen links wherein people request the same thing. – iLikeDirt Nov 8 '16 at 17:09
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    My old laptop from 7 years ago had physical buttons and was amazing to use - way better than a mac touchpad even. Why have they made touchpads worse??? – MD004 Sep 7 '18 at 23:54
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I'll answer my own question: it's all in the driver and software. Both can implement thumb-rejection, but one must do it.

In the Windows world, Microsoft Precision Touchpads seem to do a much better job of this than typical Synaptics or Elan touchpads using manufacturer-supplied drivers. Still not as good as Apple trackpads sadly.

In the Linux world, the best results I've found require using libinput with the "areas" click method. This defines a line at the bottom of the pad that completely ignored all touches and is used only for clicking. If you don't like the virtual middle-mouse button and your distro doesn't provide an interface for disabling it, put the following in your RC file to turn it into another left-click button: xinput --set-button-map <touchpad id> 1 1 3

If using the Synaptics driver, there are more customization options, but it can be trickier to set up. The information in some or all of these links will help:

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I am also a longtime Mac user adjusting to the touchpad behavior on my PC.

I have the Synaptic Driver so what I did was extend the right click corner all the way across the bottom of the trackpad and set it to primary click.

Then I set two finger click to primary click as well, and three finger click to secondary (right) click. This provides the same experience as a Mac, the primary clicking is done with the thumb, allowing for easier click w/thumb and drag with the index finger.

Then when you add in the middle finger as well and you get a right click, again just like the Mac. Hope this helps.

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This would be dependent upon the hardware makers and software developers designing this capability into the system.

As mentioned in comments, some Trackpads offer the ability to filter and reject brief touches, but I have only personally seen this capability on certain Trackpads, and not most.

However, you would not have to be a developer for Synaptics to do this. I assume anyone could familiarize themselves with the hardware's capabilities and the software possibilities and write drivers or applications that perform this filtering, and from your own posts there appear to be some who have done this in certain OSes.

But right now there does not appear to be a solution for this in Windows.

Care to give it a try yourself?

One further note: This is one advantage of the Apple method of system design: By designing both the hardware and software they can have crazy ideas like this and enact them.

Typically, Windows computers are built to a much tighter budget and much higher price pressure and so tend to take off-the-shelf components and use them only in their basic form.

Microsoft and Google's recent decisions to take end-to-end design control over products with their names should have an interesting effect on what has typically been Apple's sole territory.

Linux users tend to be more can-do or self-doing than other OS users and so take their preferred OS and simply make it into what they want, which has a similar result, though by a very different path.

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