Jumpy Cursor

Dear Computer Lady,

I have a new laptop with Windows 7 and have loaded Office 2010.

Too often when I’m in Outlook, typing an email message, my cursor jumps to another location for no reason whatsoever, and I’m typing in another sentence than where I just was.

Maybe I have fat fingers and am pushing the wrong key but am not aware of it? What is causing this and what can I do about it? It’s very random. I’ve used Outlook for years and love it, but this is so annoying.

Thanks for your help and kudos for all you do for us. Anna


Dear Anna,

This is a problem that I hear about from many people, especially when they are getting used to a new laptop.

What is happening is that your hand (or possibly your arm or sleeve) is brushing against the touchpad as you type and that moves your cursor to a different location on your document. I have had this happen to me when I am using my laptop.

What you can do about this problem depends on your laptop.

If you have an HP laptop, most models have a small button right near the touchpad that allows you to turn off the touchpad. This is a great tool. Press the button when you want to type for a while, then press it again to turn it back on when you are ready to move the cursor around on the screen again.

Some laptops have a keyboard combination that turns the touchpad on and off. On my Acer laptop, when I press the function key and the F7 key at the same time, it turns the touchpad on and off. The function key is usually abbreviated as FN. You will have to look at your laptop manual or the keys themselves to see what the combination is.

Other laptops (Dell comes to mind) don’t have a switch or keyboard combination. You would have to go into the control panel and turn off the touchpad in the settings. Just don’t forget that you will need an external mouse plugged in to turn the touchpad back on again.

I have seen some people set up a very low-tech solution, they simply cut out a section of cereal box and tape it over the touchpad when they don’t want their cursor jumping around on the screen. Tape only one side of the cardboard and you can flip it up when you want to use the touchpad, and back down when you don’t.

I hope this helps your problem,


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    • ailurophile
    • January 6, 2011

    Here’s a software solution: TouchPadPal. It allows your touchpad to ignore random swipes of the pad. http://tpp.desofto.com/
    It’s at a real good Dollar-Stretcher price, too: Free!
    There’s another free solution that addresses a similar problem. When watching a video on your laptop, the screeen saver can start, or the screen blacks out (if on battery). You could temporarily disable the screen saver, but then you could forget to turn it back on. Or you could fool the computer into thinking that you’re moving the mouse around with MouseJiggler. mousejiggler.codeplex.com/

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