For Seniors: Use a Laptop's Touchpad - dummies

For Seniors: Use a Laptop’s Touchpad

Unlike using a typewriter, with a non-touchscreen computer, you use both a keyboard and a mouse or touchpad to enter text and give commands to the computer. On a laptop, the mouse device is in the form of a touchpad, a flat rectangle beneath the keyboard which you maneuver by tapping or sliding your forefinger on the pad.

On a very few models, the mouse comes in the form of a touch button located somewhere near the center of the keyboard; if you have such a model, check your owner’s manual for more about using a touch button.

Though you might have used a keyboard before, a mouse might be new to you, and frankly, it takes a little getting used to. In effect, when you move your finger on the touchpad, a corresponding mouse pointer (a small arrow symbol) moves around your computer screen. You control the actions of that pointer by using the right and left side of the touchpad.

Here are the main functions of a mouse and how to control them:

  • Click: When people say “click,” they mean that you should press and release the left side of the touchpad.

    Clicking has a variety of uses. You can click while you’re in a document to move the insertion point, a little line that indicates where your next action will take place. For example, in a letter you’re writing, you might click in front of a word you already typed and then type another word to insert it.

    Clicking is also used in various windows to select check boxes or radio buttons (also called option buttons) to turn features on or off or to select an object such as a picture or table in your document.

  • Right-click: If you click the right side of the touchpad, Windows displays a shortcut menu that’s specific to the item you clicked. For example, if you right-click a picture, the menu that appears gives you options for working with the picture. If you right-click the Windows Desktop, the menu that appears lets you choose commands that display a different view or change Desktop properties.

  • Click and drag: To click and drag, you press and continue to hold down the left side of the touchpad and then move your finger to another location (this is the dragging motion). For instance, you can click in a document and drag your finger up, down, right, or left to highlight contents of your document.

    This highlighted text is selected, meaning that any action you perform, such as pressing the Delete key on your keyboard or clicking a button for bold formatting, is performed on the selected text.

  • Scroll: Many touchpads allow you to swipe down the right side with your finger to scroll through a document or website on your screen. Just swipe down to move through pages going forward, or swipe up to move backward in your document.

Note that many users of laptops like to use a wireless mouse instead of the touchpad to provide input to their computers. With a wireless mouse, you move the physical mouse around your desktop with your hand and click the right or left side to perform actions described above.

There is typically a scroll wheel in the middle of a wireless mouse you can use to scroll through a document. You can buy a wireless mouse at any office supply store, plug the small transmitter into a USB port of your laptop, and then use the mouse instead of the touchpad.