What is a Touchpad Keyboard?

R. Kayne

A touchpad keyboard is a standard keyboard with a mousepad built-in, negating the need for a separate mouse. Many laptop keyboards feature built-in touchpads, but most desktop keyboards do not have this feature. The touchpad is commonly augmented by two mouse buttons located just below the touchpad, and extensive software options for enabling features of both the touchpad and mouse buttons.

Most laptop keyboards utilize built-in touchpads.
Most laptop keyboards utilize built-in touchpads.

The touchpad keyboard provides special relief for those whose work demands excessive use of a mouse. Over time, repeated mouse gestures like clicking can cause carpel tunnel syndrome, a painful condition of the wrist and fingers. Holding on to an external mouse for extended periods can also keep the shoulder in an unrelaxed position for hours on end, causing tension in the scapula, neck, traps and upper arm. A touchpad keyboard can eliminate these problems, making computer work easier and healthier.

Touchpad keyboards make it possible to navigate and select items on a laptop without needing a  mouse.
Touchpad keyboards make it possible to navigate and select items on a laptop without needing a mouse.

A touchpad or mousepad is a small, rectangular touch-sensitive pad embedded in the keyboard, typically below the space bar. Cursor movement is controlled by lightly swiping the surface of the mousepad with a fingertip. Software can enable features like scrolling, accomplished by merely swiping the right edge to scroll vertical, or the bottom edge to scroll horizontally. A light tap with the fingertip is a click, two light taps, a double click. Tapping can be used instead of the mouse buttons.

When using a touchpad keyboard, both shoulders can stay in relaxed, more natural positions with hands resting on the keyboard. Tapping the mousepad for clicking requires almost no pressure and no strain, no matter how much clicking one does in a day. All mouse movements are minimalistic. In short, a touchpad keyboard is a much more comfortable way to work online for those suffering from mouse fatigue.

Oddly, these keyboards aren’t as readily available as you might imagine, given their potential value to so many. Local computer outlets, including well known chains, won’t commonly stock touchpad keyboards, perhaps preferring to sell separate mice along with standard keyboards. Whatever the reasons, your best bet might be looking to online sources.

The downside to buying a keyboard online is that you can’t try out the feel of the keys before purchasing. Some people are willing to get used to anything while others care a great deal about the responsiveness of the keys. If you fall into the latter category, read the return policy of the vendor before committing. Note also that some people do not find a touchpad keyboard as exacting as an external mouse for intricate placement, such as is necessary in photo editing. However, the touchpad can be configured to be disabled when an external mouse is necessary, or in some cases, the touchpad can share with an external mouse, depending on the keyboard and drivers.

Touchpad keyboards start at about $25 US Dollars, and go up from there. They come in every configuration from mini-keyboards to standard, rack mount and ergonomic models. If your shoulder aches from manning the mouse, or if you find yourself clicking with your middle finger to give your index finger a much-needed break, a touchpad keyboard might be just what the doctor ordered.

A touchpad keyboard is simply one that has a touchpad installed, as is the case with most laptop keyboards.
A touchpad keyboard is simply one that has a touchpad installed, as is the case with most laptop keyboards.

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Discussion Comments


These are great for most users, but there is a problem -- they aren't as precise as regular mice. If you are laying out a journal, using a graphics design program or doing anything else that requires precision, you will want to use a traditional mouse for that purpose. Don't throw out that mouse if you get a touchpad keyboard. You will miss it.


Using a keyboard with a built-in touchpad can be irritating at first. It is far too easy to accidentally rest your palms on the touchpad and that leads to cursors jumping around when you're trying to type out a document on a word processor, menus being opened and selected at random and all sorts of annoying things.

It is quite easy to fix that problem, however. You will get better about avoiding the touchpad unless you want to activate it as you become more used to the keyboard. Also, it is a very good idea to crank up the mouse sensitivity in your operating system to avoid problems.

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