What to do when your laptop's touchpad stops working

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The built-in touchpad in Raji Yusuff Oluwagbenga's laptop no longer works, making Windows nearly impossible to use. Here's how to (hopefully) fix the problem.

Have you ever tried to use a Windows PC without a mouse, touchpad, or other pointing device? It's all but impossible. So when your laptop's touchpad stops responding to your fingers, you've got a problem.

If the problem just started, reboot your computer and see if that fixes it. (Yes, I know that's painfully obvious, but we all sometimes overlook the obvious.) If that doesn't work, try these solutions.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

First, make sure you haven't accidentally disabled the touchpad. In all likelihood, there's a key combination that will toggle the touchpad on and off. It usually involves holding down the Fn key (which is probably near the lower-left corner of the keyboard) while pressing another key.

But what other key should you press? It's probably one of the function keys (F1 through F12), although it might be something else. Examine the keyboard, paying particular attention to the little icons (usually blue) on some of the keys. Look for an icon that might suggest the touchpad.

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The obtuse Lenovo touchpad icon

Unfortunately, not all touchpad icons are easy to figure out. I never would have guessed the one on my Lenovo X220. I found it by googling the model name and number plus disable touchpad. If you can't guess the icon, I suggest you do the same.

If that doesn't fix the problem, check the touchpad settings. Go to the Start menu or the Windows 8 search charm and type mouse settings. Select Change mouse settings (there are other options that are very similar, so pick the one with that exact wording).

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Once in the dialog box, click the tab that seems to be for your touchpad (the name varies from model to model). Make sure that everything is enabled. If there are setting buttons, make sure that everything is on.

If that doesn't help, you may need a new driver. Go to your laptop manufacturer's web site and search for your model number and the words touchpad driver. See if there's a driver you can download and install.

If none of these suggestions work, you've got a hardware problem. Assuming you're not ready to try this sort of repair yourself, you have two options: You can send the laptop to a shop for repairs, or you can buy a small, wireless mouse and use that in its place.

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