Updated: 12/30/2021 by Computer Hope
Laptop touchpad

Also called a glide pad, glide point, pressure-sensitive tablet, or trackpad, a touchpad is an input device on laptops and some keyboards. It allows the user to move a cursor with their finger. It can be used in place of an external mouse.

How to use a touchpad

A touchpad is operated using your finger and dragging it across the flat surface of the touchpad. As you move your finger on the surface, the mouse cursor moves in that same direction. Like most computer mice, the touchpad also has two buttons below the touch surface that lets you left-click or right-click.


Not all laptop touchpads have visible buttons, as shown in the picture. However, the entire touchpad or the bottom section of the touchpad acts as a button when pressing down on the touchpad. Also, tapping the touchpad usually acts as a click.

How to scroll using the touchpad

Scrolling with a touchpad can be done using one of the following methods.

  • Place the mouse cursor on the vertical scroll bar on the right side of the program window, then press the left touchpad button. While pressing the left button, drag your finger downward on the touchpad to move the scrollbar down.
  • Most touchpads allow the user to place two fingers on the touchpad and drag them up or down to scroll.
  • Some touchpads have a vertical scroll area built-in on the left or right side. Moving your finger up and down in this section of the touchpad lets you scroll.

Why does my laptop not come with a mouse?

Users coming from a desktop computer to a laptop may be surprised to not receive a mouse with their computer. Today's laptops often use a touchpad and not a mouse like you'd find with a desktop computer.


Although a laptop may not come with a mouse, any Bluetooth or USB mouse you use with a desktop can also work with a laptop.

Why do laptops use a touchpad?

The touchpad is used with most laptops to keep the laptop compact and as one piece. If you were to use a desktop mouse with the laptop, it would need to be connected and disconnected frequently.

Other solutions like the J-Mouse and TrackPoint were used, but most find the touchpad to be the easiest to use and maintain. However, there are still Lenovo laptops that use TrackPoint.

Do I need to use the touchpad on my laptop?

No. All modern laptops have a USB (universal serial bus) port that lets you connect the same type of mouse you use on a desktop computer to your laptop. If you don't like using the touchpad, we recommend connecting a USB mouse to the laptop.


If your laptop does not have available USB ports, consider getting a Bluetooth mouse.

Can I use a touchpad on my desktop?

Yes. There are desktop computer keyboards that come with a touchpad for those users who prefer a touchpad over a mouse. There are also separate touchpads that can be used by themselves that connect to the USB port like a mouse.

When was the first touchpad invented, and who invented it?

In 1988, the technology behind the touchpad, GlidePoint technology, was first invented by Dr. George E. Gerpheide, Ph.D. Dr. Gerpheide, with James O'Callaghan, later founded Circque in 1991, which commercialized the touchpad.

Hardware terms, Input device, J mouse, Mouse, Mouse terms, Pointing device, Touch, TrackPoint