Starting with Creators Update version 1703, Windows 10 allows you to configure multi-finger gestures for Precision Touchpads. If you are the lucky owner of a device with such a touchpad, here is how you can tweak the multi-touch gestures for it.
The ability to configure multi-touch gestures for Precision Touchpads is one of the most welcomed improvements of Windows 10 Creators Update. This feature allows the user to use one-, two-, and three-finger gestures to switch between apps and virtual desktops (Task View), and do various tasks faster.
To configure multi-finger touchpad gestures in Windows 10, do the following.
- Open Settings.
- Go to Devices - Touchpad.
- If you have a precision touchpad, you will see the message "Your PC has a precision touchpad" at the top of the page.
- Here, you can customize and tweak various options. For example, you can change the speed of your mouse pointer, or disable the touchpad automatically when you connect an external mouse or another pointing device.
Using the provided precision touchpad options, you can
- Change the sensitivity of the touchpad.
- Enable or disable single finger tap.
- Enable or disable two finger tap to open the context menu. Additionally, you can enable the ability to press the lower right corner of the touchpad for the same action.
- Enable or disable "tap twice and drag" to select multiple objects.
The Settings page comes with a set of tweaks for scrolling and zooming. There is an option Drag two fingers to scroll and Pinch to zoom and the Scrolling direction drop-down menu. It will allow you to scroll the screen up or down using a downward/upward swipe.
You can configure three- and four-finger gestures to perform switching between open windows apps. Use the Swipes drop-down menu to set one of the following actions:
- Nothing: This disables three-finger gestures altogether.
- Switch apps and show desktop: With this option enabled, a three-finger swipe up will open Task View, swiping down will show you your desktop and all your open apps, and swiping left and right will switch among running apps.
- Switch desktop and show desktop: Three-finger swipes up and down will do the same as above, but swiping left or right will switch between virtual desktops.
- Change audio and volume: With this option, you can swipe up to increase the system volume, down to decrease it, and swipe left and right to jump to the previous or next song using iTunes or another music app.
The Three-finger tap action can be set to a number of useful actions:
- Open Cortana.
- Open the Action Center.
- Work as a play/pause button.
- Work as the middle mouse button.
The amount of customization available for Precision Touchpads can easily make you jealous if you do not have one. Microsoft did a nice job for providing all these configuration options in Windows 10 Creators Update. There is one big downside to touchpad gestures though. The user has to remember what action is performed by each gesture so it increases his cognitive burden. Also, many of the gestures conflict with each other, for example, the user can accidentally end up doing a two finger tap when attempting a two finger scroll. A simple touchpad with physical buttons for left and right clicks relieves the user of being forced to remember touchpad gestures and avoid usability accidents.
Bonus tip: If you don't have a precision touchpad in your laptop, you can try installing Linux Mint. In all desktop environments I've tried, there are a number of extra options which can be configured there out-of-the-box. If you are using Linux, your default touchpad experience will be more feature-rich than Windows.