Scott Hanselman

Fix: External Mouse freezing on Lenovo Laptops with Synaptics TouchPad

December 17, '13 Comments [15] Posted in Bugs | Tools
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I'm just blogging this to make sure I remember it, but also to help others who might need this fix.

I recently noticed that my external Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse would freeze every few minutes. I'd be moving it, then the mouse would just stop. It was extremely annoying. I recently upgraded to Windows 8.1 so my first reaction was to assume that something broke because "stuff is new."

However, I sat down and thought about the problem and noticed that if I moved the TouchPad on my laptop after the external mouse appeared frozen my external mouse would be responsive again. Something was disabling the mouse as I was moving around. I figured it was the Palm Check feature of the laptop's touchpad, meant to disable mice whilst typing fast. Turned out during a recent driver upgrade it was set to Maximum. I turned it down two notches and my mouse freezing problem was solved.

Hit the Windows button and from the Start Screen type "mouse." You want this one, not the "metro" or fullscreen mouse settings.

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If you have the Lenovo or Synaptics drivers, select the UltraNav tab...

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Then Settings...then  PalmCheck. Put it a few notches below Maximum.

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I hope this helps. I'm starting to realize that most all of my frustrations with touchpads and mice on Windows are related to poor defaults and settings in the 3rd party drivers, and now I check those first when I have issues.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Wednesday, 18 December 2013 00:57:37 UTC
Unrelated but one thing that's annoying me is that I can't seem to find the settings to disable my touchpad when a USB mouse is attached. I think it must depend on the laptop (drivers). I'll keep looking
Taki Stewart
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 05:06:50 UTC
I've seen it (years ago) to where the heat emanating from the battery immediately below the touchpad would cause the touchpad to improperly or not register any activity.
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 06:16:28 UTC
I was having this very same problem with my arc touch mouse and my Surface Pro for a long time. Finally there is relief!
Jason Kanaris
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 09:13:36 UTC
The most frustrating Lenovo/Win8/Mousepad issue I have is that a rightwards move on the mousepad is interpreted the same as swiping in from the left of the touchscreen, which cycles through the list of open apps. So almost every time I use the mousepad the app suddenly changes... Would really appreciate a tip on how to disable that feature.
Graeme Hood
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 14:44:34 UTC
Step 1: Trash Lenovo
Step 2: Get a real Laptop.
Alternate Step 2: Go to a real company that does not use Lenovo trash.
Step 3: Celebrate.
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 15:21:05 UTC
See now that seems to me like a bit of an overreaction, Joshua. Lenovo make the Thinkpad line, which are arguably some of the best Windows laptops on Earth. I don't know what you could possibly mean by "a real laptop", because a lot of devs use Thinkpads to (pardon my French) "get shit done".
Mofo Jones
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 17:49:35 UTC
Joshua - I respectfully disagree. The best laptops I've ever owned have all been Thinkpads, from the T60p to the W520, and now the X1 Carbon Touch and Yoga 2 Pro.

Graeme - Go to the same settings applet, Application Gestures, and turn off "Edge Swipes" and that will fix it.
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 18:45:28 UTC
Thanks Scott!!! That mouse issue has been annoying me for months now (I'm using a Microsoft Sculpt Touch mouse with my Lenovo T530) and I've just been living with the issue rather than taking the time to troubleshoot -- I had actually thought it was possibly a Bluetooth issue of some sort and didn't bother trying to troubleshoot as I've always seemed to have bigger fish to fry.

By the way, I absolutely love the Lenovo T530. I've had several laptops (IBM T-Series before they switched to Lenovo, Toshiba Satellite Pro series, Toshiba Satellite lower end, and have dealt with other makes with my clients) but this time around I went back to the Lenovo T-series and couldn't be happier. In my personal opinion they are top shelf. There doesn't appear to be a better keyboard experience out there. Not to mention the fact that they are reliable as hell and are built to withstand being worked on all day and all night without overheating or wearing out over time. Their support is fantastic as well. I recently upgraded to Windows 8.1 and had a minor driver issue which I decided to talk with a support rep about before I did something on my own. They initially said they wouldn't help me with software issues (my support plan was for hardware only) but the rep did take a moment to talk with me and we resolved the issue with that phone call. In my experience, you can't beat Lenovo support. I wouldn't buy anything else today.
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 18:50:48 UTC
Scott / Joshua - Yes, I'm two weeks into the Yoga 2 Pro and I have to say that it is a super design. Some initial hiccups, but I love the versatility of the device combined with the performance and small footprint. Tough choice, though, between that and the ThinkPad Yoga.
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 19:20:55 UTC
Thank you, thank you thank you!! I suffered this problem for like 6 months or so, but were so lazy to research and fix the problem.
1000 Thanks Scott!
Javier Rivera
Thursday, 19 December 2013 01:31:17 UTC
You can also try using the HP Synaptics drivers.
Thursday, 19 December 2013 08:07:19 UTC
I finally bought one of the new generation of Haswell ultrabooks.

It is the Asus UX301LA. Great laptop so far but I had a similar problem with my Sculpt Touch mouse sporadically.

I fixed it by turning off the power saving feature in Bluetooth Settings->Hardware->(Select appropriate adapter)->Properties->Change settings->Power Management->Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power.

Kind of buried...might help someone.
Friday, 20 December 2013 04:35:34 UTC
@Timothy - oh nice! I'm currently tossing up between a top of the line ThinkPad Yoga or Asus UX301LA. I often just bring both their pages up in the browser and stare for a while 'cos I just can't choose.

The UX301LA has POWER (i7-4558U, Iris 5100, RAID 0 SSD, WQHD) which I really appreciate, but I really need to see and use one 'cos the keyboard & trackpad on the previous Zenbooks just weren't that fantastic.

The ThinkPad Yoga is smaller, heavier, and less powerful. That said, it has an active digitizer/pen (which I love), and it's a ThinkPad, meaning the keyboard will be near flawless. You can also spec it up to an i7-4600U, which is the most powerful 15W TDP Haswell CPU you can get (the i7-4558U is 28W).

What I'd give to have both laptops side-by-side for a day so I can make my decision once and for all.
Thursday, 23 January 2014 22:54:26 UTC
While my laptop is a bit different from yours in the Windows version, this still helped me a lot! I've searched in the past, but I couldn't find anything, and it was so annoying because when it'd freeze, I wouldn't be able to do anything for long periods of time. Thanks for posting this! :D
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 19:21:35 UTC
Getting to the Synaptics settings may not be easy on some machines. My HP did not have a straightforward path to the settings but did allow me to go to Control Panel, then Mouse and then "Device Settings" where several Synaptics driver files are found. Select one and then press the "Settings" tab. Each file controls one feature on the trackpad so you may have to try a few. I got to the palm settings similar to the one above and moved it down a couple of notches. So far it is all good.

One question that will never be answered: why doesn't a "Touch Mouse freeze Win7" query in Google deliver a MS solution? As noted above third party drivers are often a problem. What is not obvious is that these errant drivers can cause problems with other devices.

Craig Weems
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.