When your PC mouse won’t work, you unplug it and reconnect it in the hope that it will fix the problem. But when the same thing happens on a laptop touchpad, unplugging isn’t an option.
So if your mouse pointer is refusing to move on the screen as your finger moves around the pad, here are three things you can try.
1. Touchpad is disabled: re-enable it
The most common reason for a cursor being stuck is because you’ve accidentally disabled the touchpad. On some laptops this is surprisingly easy to do without realising.
So, first check your look for a button somewhere near the trackpad that has an icon that looks like a touchpad with a line through it. Only some laptops have these: they’re a dedicated button for disabling the touchpad to prevent the cursor moving when you’re trying. If you see one, press it and check if the cursor moves normally again.
If you don’t find one, check your row of function keys at the top of the keyboard. Many will have icons so again look for one that could be a trackpad – typically F7, but we’ve also seen laptops that use F5 and F9.
Pressing this key alone is unlikely to work, although it has been known to on certain devices. In most cases, you’ll need to press and hold the Fn key and then press the relevant function key to bring your cursor back to life.
2. Check Windows settings
To check if your trackpad has been disabled in Windows, click the Start button, type ‘mouse’ in the search field, and then click on Mouse (or Mouse settings) from the search results.
Of course, you’re wondering how you’re supposed to do that if your touchpad isn’t working. If your laptop has a touchscreen, just use that. If not, it’s possible to navigate Windows using the keyboard (with difficulty).
So, in keyboard terms, press the Windows key to open the Start menu, and type mouse settings. Press Enter to select the top (highlighted) search result, which should be mouse settings.
Now press the Tab key to move through the settings until ‘Additional mouse options’ is highlighted under the ‘Related settings’ heading.
On the Mouse Properties screen that appears press the right cursor (arrow) key to get to the ‘Hardware’ tab (below, left) and ensure the touchpad is highlighted. Press Tab until ‘Properties’ is highlighted above the OK button and press Enter to ‘click’ it.
Another window will open (below, middle).
Press Tab until the ‘Change settings’ button is selected, press Enter to click it and, if prompted, enter your Windows / Microsoft password.
A third window should open (above, right) and you need to press the right arrow key to get to the ‘Driver’ tab. If your mouse (including touchpad) is disabled, there should be an option to ‘Enable Device’ press Tab until the button is selected, and press Enter to click it. If you only see ‘Disable Device’, try selecting that and then re-enabling it.
3. LED on touchpad?
Some laptops (including HP models) have an LED in the top-left corner. If yours is lit, it means the touchpad is disabled. Just tap twice on it (a quick double-tap) to re-enable the pad.
Hopefully one of these methods has worked and your problem is now solved.
If not, try classic ‘turn it off and on again’. Rebooting Windows fixes problems surprisingly often.
If even that doesn’t help, it’s possible the touchpad itself is at fault. The best option in this case is to buy a USB mouse, plug it in to a spare USB port on your laptop and use that instead of the touchpad. It will be cheaper than getting your laptop repaired. But if it’s still under warranty, contact the retailer (if it’s less than six months old) or the manufacturer (if over six months) and you should get a resolution.
Got problems with your keyboard? Read our guide on how to fix a laptop keyboard.