If you have a laptop with Windows 10, you might be able to use touchpad gestures to control your computer and get more done.
What Is A Touchpad?
Laptops have really evolved. They're smaller, lighter and faster.
That said, the mouse or touchpad portion of laptops have only really had had four significant revamps.
In fact, the first laptop mouse pad wasn't a pad at all. It was a little joystick with two buttons.
Mid 1990's laptop mouse
IBM Thinkpad – 2000's
Late 2000's Just two buttons
2010's – No buttons…that you can see 🙂
First let's look at how gestures differ from button presses or pad taps…
What Are Touchpad Gestures?
Gestures are combinations of finger touches and movements that your laptop understands as commands.
One gesture might be to tap with two fingers on the mouse pad. Your laptop would understand that as a right mouse click.
Gestures are just certain actions performed in a certain order that instructs your laptop to do something.
Can My Laptop Be Controlled By Touchpad Gestures?
Before we get to the exciting bit and go through all the gestures, lets figure out if your laptop can actually understand them. Not all laptops have a touchpad that's compatible with Windows 10 gestures, but it's usually easy to figure out.
Press the windows key then type touchpad and select it from the menu
Check if your laptop has a precision touchpad – one that can understand taps and swipes.
If you do have a precision touchpad, you're in business!
If you don't have a precision touchpad, don't give up yet. You can install updated drivers on some laptops that will make them function like a precision touch pad. Check out this article from Windows Central for that.
What Are The Touchpad Gestures For Windows 10?
|Select An Item ( like a file or folder ) ||Tap once on the touchpad|
|Scroll Up, Down and Sideways||Put two fingers on the touchpad and move left, right, up or down.|
|Right Click / More Commands||Tap the touchpad with two fingers|
|See All Open Windows||Put 3 fingers on the touchpad and swipe all of them upwards|
|Show The Desktop||Put 3 fingers on the touchpad and swipe all down towards you|
|Switch between open windows||Put 3 fingers on the touchpad and swipe right or left|
|Open Search Bar / Open Cortana||Tap with 3 fingers on the touchpad|
|Open Action Center||Tap with 4 fingers on the touchpad|
|Switch virtual desktops||Put 4 fingers on the touchpad and move left or right|
What Are The Most Useful Gestures?
That's a good list!
But honestly – there are some gestures that you probably just don't use and there are some gestures that are super useful.
You might not think about it, but how do you scroll down web pages on a laptop that doesn't have a scroll wheel?
Being able to scroll around web pages and documents using just two fingers makes it really slick and a pleasure to use. After a while it becomes second nature to scroll using the mouse pad gesture.
The second gesture I love is three finger swipe up to show all open windows.
You can quickly jump from one window to another and see what's going on. Before gestures were a thing the way to do this was to use Alt + Tab.
It still works, but the 3 finger swipe makes you feel like you are on star trek or something.
Want More Gestures For Windows 10?
If you have a touch screen laptop running Windows 10, you're gonna love this.
Not only can you perform gestures on the mouse pad, but you can perform gestures on the laptop screen.
Now this only works for touch screens, but if you read on I'll convince you to dump that laptop and get a new one with a touch screen. It's so cool.
An app called TouchMe Gesture Studio unlocks tons of fully customizable gestures. You can assign a command to a specific gesture.
[Above] This is the main screen for TouchMe Gesture Studio. I've setup two custom gestures, one for showing the desktop by pinching the screen.
The other gesture is a life saver!
My laptop doesn't have an media controls, so if I want to skip a Spotify track I don't really care for, I have to maximize the Spotify app window, click next track, minimize the Spotify window and pick up where I left off.
That's a lot of actions just to skip a track!
Now, with the help of TouchMe Gesture Studio, I can skip a track by simply swiping left with three fingers.
It looks like this:
There are tons more touch screen gestures and i'll have a tutorial on it soon.
If you can learn how to use the touch pad gestures on your Windows 10 laptop, it won't be long until they are second nature and you can navigate around windows significantly faster.
To start, just remember scroll using two fingers and three fingers away from you brings up the window switcher.