Is it possible to disable the laptop touchpad when using a mouse? | Q&A with Patrick Marshall

Q: I have a Microsoft Surface Pro with a detachable keyboard. I also use a mouse to navigate the screen. My problem is that when I select a spot on the screen with the mouse and then go to the keyboard to type, my hand often comes close to the keyboard’s touchpad, which causes the cursor placed by the mouse to move to another position on the screen. My question: is there a way to turn off or deactivate the touchpad manually or automatically when I use the mouse as described?

Doug Windhorn

A: Yes, I had the same problem. Fortunately, there is a solution.

Go to the Start menu and click on Settings. You will see a search bar. Type “touchpad”. Then click “Enable or disable touchpad” in the search results. You will then be on the Touchpad page in the settings. The first option is to enable or disable the touchpad. Below you can choose whether to disable the touchpad when a mouse is connected.

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Q: My upgrade to Windows 11 created a new problem. Periodically, a small clear rectangle appears at the bottom of the screen, and a small blue circle appears inside it. In that space it doesn’t allow any typing or clicking. I am temporarily able to fix it by going to Task Manager, clicking Processes, going down to Windows Explorer, double clicking and restarting. This solves the problem, for a while. Any suggestions?

Bill Phelps

A: This was a bug encountered by some users in an earlier version of Windows 11. The bug has reportedly been fixed, so check Windows Update to make sure you’re running the latest version. To do this, click the Start button, then click Settings. You’ll find Windows Update at the bottom of the settings list that opens.

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Q: My one-year-old desktop has a 250 gigabyte solid state drive (SSD) which includes the operating system among many other software. It also has a 1 terabyte hard disk drive (HDD) for all other storage devices. I bought it from Costco and have noticed that many other desktops for sale now have the same configuration. I’m just curious about any advantages or disadvantages of this setup in light of the rewrite limitation on SSDs.

Alan Graves

A: Yes, there are many computers on the market that store the operating system on an SSD and use a traditional HDD for data storage.

The idea is this: yes, SSDs have a finite number of disk writes. But they are also much faster than HDDs. And since operating systems do far more reads from drives than writes to drives, it makes sense.

For files you are working on, and therefore reading and writing a lot, a HDD makes more sense for storage. There are, however, exceptions and I’ll get to them in a moment.

But first, if you adopt this strategy and run out of random access memory (RAM), be sure to configure Windows to use the HDD for virtual RAM. When Windows runs out of RAM for running programs, it saves the program data to the drive and then retrieves it when you need it. You don’t want Windows to eat into finished writes on your SSD.

There are exceptions to the rule. I work a lot on video files. For this I want fast access and compilation supported by an SSD drive. Yes, there are many writings. But when I’m done with processing a video, it’s done and I switch to another file. I’ve never hit the write limit of an SSD. And when the SSD fills up, I plug in another SSD.

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The other downside to SSDs? They are significantly more expensive than HDDs. You can get a 1 terabyte HDD for $ 50- $ 65. A good 1 terabyte SSD will cost you about double.

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