What Causes a Touchpad Not to Respond?

by Dan Stone

Computer touchpads will not respond to user control if the device is disabled or doesn't have properly configured software. Touchpads may stop responding when there's a software or hardware change with the computer; touchpads may become inoperative after the user installs a new operating system or alternative input device like a mouse. Additionally, the touchpad may be designed so that the user can turn it off when using a secondary input device.

Keyboard Shortcut Toggle

Laptops often include a keyboard shortcut that can be used to enable and disable the touchpad. The touchpad will stop responding if the shortcut is activated, which may throw off the user if the shortcut is accidentally pressed. To further complicate the problem, the keyboard shortcut may not reset to enable the device when restarting the computer. The shortcut is usually activated by pressing the "Fn" key and one of the "F" keys which is designated by a touchpad icon. The touchpad toggle "F" key varies by manufacturer and device: Sony uses "F1," Dell uses "F3," Samsung uses "F5," and Toshiba uses "F9."

Other Device Interference

If you're using several mouse and touchpad input devices, the additional device may interfere with the touchpad and cause it to stop working. The interference may be an intentionally programmed feature of the touchpad or it can be caused by the programs that run both input devices competing over control. Try disconnecting any external input devices like keyboards, mice and touchpads before rebooting to troubleshoot.

Software Interference

If you've installed aftermarket or vendor-supplied software to enhance touchpad functionality, it may interfere with your computer's touchpad software -- removing it should fix the problem. Additionally, if you've installed other software for a mouse or a second touchpad, the software may interfere with the first touchpad even if the other devices aren't plugged in. Try uninstalling additional input device software if the touchpad stops responding. Other software will not interfere with the touchpad if you boot into Safe Mode.

Disabled in Device Manager

The touchpad will stop responding if it's disabled in the Device Manager. You can connect a mouse or secondary input device to the computer to interface with the Device Manager if the built-in touchpad stops working. To access the Device Manager, open the charms bar, click "Search," type "Device Manager" and press "Enter." Click to expand "Mice and other pointing devices" tree, double-click on the touchpad device from the list, open the "Driver" tab and click "Enable" to turn the device back on.

Touchpad Driver Missing

The touchpad may stop working because the device's driver has been removed or corrupted. You can check for device drivers in the "Device Manager," except devices without drivers will appear under the "Other Devices" tree. To install the driver, open the touchpad device in the device manager and click the "Update Driver" option on the "Driver" tab. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation. You may need to download a customized driver from your computer manufacturer's support website if Windows can't identify a valid driver.

About the Author

Dan Stone started writing professionally in 2006, specializing in education, technology and music. He is a web developer for a communications company and previously worked in television. Stone received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in communication studies from Northern Illinois University.

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