Using the touchpad


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Using the touchpad

A mother and daughter using their laptop to research the internet

What's coming up?

One of the important differences between a laptop and a desktop computer is that the laptop uses a touchpad (sometimes called a trackpad) instead of a mouse.

In this activity, you'll learn how to use the touchpad to move a pointer (or cursor), and how to left and right click on objects on the screen.

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What does a touchpad do?

The touchpad on a laptop does the same job as the mouse on a desktop computer. It is sometimes also called a trackpad.

The touchpad is used to control the mouse pointer, also known as the cursor. The cursor is used to point at and choose (or activate) items on the screen.

A laptop computer with the touchpad highlighted
A laptop showing the cursor moving across the screen as someone slides their finger across the touchpad

Moving the cursor on a touchpad

When you want to move the cursor, just slide a finger across the touchpad in the direction that you want the cursor to go.

Don’t worry if you come to the edge of the touchpad and the cursor still hasn’t reached its destination. You can lift your finger off the touchpad surface and move it back to the edge of the touchpad to make more travel room for your finger. When your finger is not in contact with the touchpad, the cursor won’t move.

A laptop computer showing the left and right buttons for clicking


Just above or below the touchpad may be two buttons. These are like the left and right mouse buttons.

Clicking on the left button with your finger is the same as a left mouse click. Clicking on the right with our finger is the same as a right mouse click.

Single click

On a touchpad that doesn't have left and right buttons, a quick tap on the touchpad is the same as a left click.

A diagram of someone tapping the touchpad on a laptop computer
A diagram of someone double tapping the touchpad on a laptop computer


Double-clicking works just like a mouse. On a touchpad with buttons, tap the left button twice. On a touchpad without buttons, click the touchpad twice quickly to double-click.


When a webpage or document is too big to fit on the screen, you can use the touchpad to move the page up or down to see more. This is known as scrolling and there are a few ways to do this.

On some touchpads, you can place two fingers side-by-side on the touchpad and gently drag them up and down on the touchpad surface to scroll.

Or, you can move the cursor to the scroll bar on the right hand side of the screen. Click on the little box in the scroll bar and hold your finger down on the touchpad surface. Slide your finger up or down to scroll the page.

Take your finger off the touchpad when you want to stop scrolling.

A cursor on the scroll bar to scroll the page on a website
A laptop computer with the special scroll zone highlighted on the touchpad

Many touchpads have a special zone on the right side for scrolling. Sliding your finger up and down in the zone will move the page up and down.

Clickety split!

How do I double-click on a touchpad?

Tap on the touchpad twice quickly

Click to flip


That's right! Just as one tap is a click, a double tap is a double-click.

Click on the right button

Click to flip


Sorry, that's not right. The right button is like a right mouse click, not a double-click.


You've completed the Using the touchpad activity.

Just like the mouse on a desktop computer, using a touchpad is something you should pick up quickly with a bit of practice. The basic click and scroll controls are easy to learn, and when it comes to pointing, you just move your finger across the touchpad in the direction where you want the cursor to go.

Coming up next, we look at how to keep your laptop computer ready to use in the How to charge a laptop activity.

Three generations of one family enjoying the internet on their laptop computer