Tip o’ the Week #218 – Have you got the touch?


Using “touch” in computing has evolved so much in just the last five years. First phones then tablets evolved a new UI around using your fingers rather than a pointer & mouse, and with Windows 8, touch really got mainstream on regular PCs too. How many times do you prod the screen of a laptop then realise it’s not touch-capable?

Well, more advanced means of using touch have sprung up in ways other than just the screen. Most laptops nowadays have ditched the “Pointing Stick(careful if you go searching online for the other terms one might use) and have adopted a touchpad of some sort. Originally, this was just an annoying way of moving your mouse around with repeated swipes, but as people are more used to them, and they’ve got more effective, it’s generally the preferred way of pointer movement on a laptop.

Unless you have a real external mouse, of course, which is always better.

clip_image004Microsoft’s been working with partners for a while now on a new generation of touchpad, called a “Precision Touchpad”. The idea with the Precision TP is that it replicates the gestures you might use on-screen – see more information here. Check if your machine has a PTP by looking under the Mouse and touchpad section in PC Settings. (sorry about that last link).

If you prefer using one of the growing band of touch-enabled meeces then you should make sure you have the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center installed on your PC. If you’re equipped with an appropriate rodent, you can do all sorts of one, two and even three-fingered gestures and your machine will respond without fuss or complaint. Well, it will once you’ve practiced a bit…

The excellent Wedge Touch Mouse (essential equipment for anyone with a laptop not bristling with USB ports – ie most of them – since it doesn’t need a USB dongle to work, given that it uses Bluetooth) sadly doesn’t support the full gamut of multi-digit expressions, however it does allow you to scroll horizontally and vertically – useful for navigating the Windows 8.1 start screen or simply moving around in long documents.