Laptop Touchpad Problems

by Mike Arneson

After the keyboard, the touchpad of your computer is its most commonly used input device. If your touchpad stops working, it will be difficult but not impossible to use your computer. A broken touchpad, while inconvenient, does not necessarily require repairs.

Driver Problems

The most likely culprit for your computer's malfunction is a driver problem. Drivers are pieces of software that control the computer's hardware. It's possible virus activity or user error damaged or removed the driver. Access your computer's device manager to check for driver problems. Your device manager should indicate whether there is a driver problem under the "Mice and Other Pointing Devices" heading. If there is a driver problem, a replacement driver should be available for download on the computer manufacturer's website.

Connection Problems

While it's unlikely, there is a chance the touchpad's connection to the motherboard may have broken, perhaps due to heating malfunctions or other internal problems. The connection to the motherboard is delicate. If the computer has been worked on recently, it's possible the technician forgot to reconnect the touchpad. If the touchpad driver works properly but the touchpad still does not function, the connection may have failed. Checking and repairing the connection requires the computer be partially disassembled. It is not a repair to be undertaken by an unskilled technician. If a motherboard problem will require its replacement, it may be more expensive than the computer's value warrants.

Misuse

The touchpad is delicate, so it is possible to damage the device by tapping on it too hard or using a sharp instrument instead of a finger. If there is excessive wear or damage to the touch surface, and the touchpad driver is working correctly, the pad may need to be replaced. Replacing a touchpad is not an easy repair, and may prove difficult in situations where the computer is particularly old. In any case, a professional computer technician should be contacted.

Remedies

If your touchpad stops working, connect a mouse to your computer, either by USB, or PS2, if your computer has those ports. The computer should automatically detect and install the mouse, giving you mouse functionality. If your computer does not automatically detect and install the mouse, you may have to search for a driver for your mouse on the manufacturer's website.

Expert Insight

The touchpad of a laptop computer is usually replaced with the entire "Palm Rest," which is the flat portion of the laptop's keyboard area in which the touchpad is housed. Palm rests are relatively inexpensive parts, but their replacement may be complicated. If you are not comfortable disassembling your computer, contact a professional computer repair technician.

About the Author

Mike Arneson is an adjunct professor of English. He's been a professional writer since 2003 and was chief editor of his English department's student literary magazine, "Notations." His other online publications include procedurals for various websites. He has a Bachelor of Science in professional writing and a Master of Arts in TESOL.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Declan Jewell