Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

A screen suddenly scrolling on a new laptop sounds like a touchpad problem. There is an easy way to test for that.

My fairly new laptop with Windows 8 seems to have a mind of its own. I can be typing an email and suddenly the scroll bar goes off at 90 miles an hour down the page and I lose everything. I've looked in drafts, deleted, etc. but it hasn't ended up there. So I have to start all over again trying to remember what I had written previously. Please can you help stop this frustrating happening?

In this excerpt from Answercast #98 I look at some problems with a new Windows 8 laptop suddenly scrolling the screen while typing.

Screen suddenly scrolling

So there are a couple of things that come to mind right away. First off, if it's scrolling down the page, scroll back up. What you were typing may still be there.

I'm not sure exactly why you're losing anything if the page is simply scrolling down. And you notice it soon enough so that you're not typing into some random place. So that's the very first thing I would think of. Immediately scroll back to where your typing was happening - and see if it isn't all still there.

Why the screen scrolls

Now, as to why the scrolling is happening? There can be many, many different reasons for this. By far, by far, the most common (especially since you indicate you're using a laptop, a relatively new laptop) is that people's palms can touch the touch pad while typing.

If your hands are held kind of low, and something brushes against the touch pad, the computer may interpret that as a mouse click. A mouse click is movement. It moves your screen around.

Touchpad shortcut strokes

In fact if it's scrolling down, there are actually other things that you could be doing on the touch pad that could cause things to scroll down and scroll down rapidly.

Keystrokes for scrolling

The other thing that comes to mind is to be extra careful when you're typing - and I say that because many of the page movement commands are available as keystrokes.

So, if you end up typing something like, I don't know, page down (or something close to the page down key) but you hit accidentally Control Page Down - then all of a sudden you're telling the program to scroll to the bottom of the page.

That sounds like what might be happening here.

And there are other keystrokes. Before I go too far I should say that there are other keystrokes that involve letters that may, very well, result in odd unexpected movement. If for some reason you accidentally happen to have the Control key pressed, or the Shift key pressed, or the Alt key pressed, or any combination of those, the screen could move.

So that's something else that I would be extra careful of.

Sensitive trackpads

But by far, my money is on the track pad. It may be perhaps a little too sensitive. Or perhaps your fingers are somehow brushing against it and somehow confusing the program into doing some movement that you're not expecting.

One thing you light look at is in Control Panel, under Mouse, there may be an option to either change the sensitivity of the track pad or disable it completely.

What I would recommend you do is disable the trackpad completely. At least as a test to see if the problem goes away. If the problem does go away, then you know that the problem is somehow related specifically to the track pad - either brushing against it, or it's simply too sensitive.

Now I do have to say that this is a device specific Control Panel option; not all laptops, not all track pads have the ability to disable them. I've heard of people taping a piece of cardboard over the track pad, temporarily, to make sure that nothing is touching it. Those are the kinds of things to try to see if you can't rule this out.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6350 - March 16, 2013 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

10 Comments
AG Wright
March 16, 2013 10:50 AM

Many laptops, in particular the Toshiba that I am using now, have a button that will turn off the track pad just below the space bar.
Of course I found it by accident and couldn't figure out what was wrong until I looked it up on Google.

Anthony
March 19, 2013 8:54 AM

I too have had the same thing on a Toshiba Tecra, especially in Outlook, with colleagues regularly receiving either blank, or partially completed emails. I've disabled the track pad and that seems to have done the trick, and I think the only way of stopping it completely is to have a mouse and keyboard in addition to the laptop keyboard.

Mark J
March 19, 2013 10:58 AM

If the text which you entered is deleted, you can often bring it back by pressing CTRL+Z. CTRL+Z is the undo key, CTRL+Y is the redo key which reverses the action of the undo key.

Paul Palmer
March 19, 2013 12:35 PM

AG Wright - That button on the Toshiba for turning off the trackpad. Thank you. I didn't ever realize it WAS a button. And it works like you said. And when I lose whole emails or paragraphs, just like Mark J said, it is because the dumb machine suddenly highlights the whole writing and before you even notice, you type the next key and it's all gone. Control Z does the trick. And a sensitive trackpad doesn't require that you touch the actual pad. Resting your fingers on the neutral plastic next to the trackpad can also make it act funny. When I run into these problems, I remove my left hand from the computer entirely.

Alan Farr
March 19, 2013 12:48 PM

A worse thing by far when typing with the touchpad active, is when one unwittingly brushes it whilst one has the Shift key already depressed in preparation for typing an uppercase letter. The text between the position in the text and the position of the mouse cursor is selected and the next letter pressed replaces everything inadvertently selected.

If there is only one Undo possible, it may be impossible to Ctrl+Z enough times in order to recover the deleted text.

If one has a mouse available, far better to connect it and deactivate the touchpad during the period one is typing.

Hans
March 19, 2013 3:14 PM

When I have to enter a piece of text in a browser field, I prepare it in a plain ascii text editor, safely away from the often jumpy screens and distracting wriggling icons or banners. When I'm satisfied with the result, I copy/past it into the web page. This way I never lose anything, and it makes it easy to save what I wrote onto my hard disk.

Fred
March 19, 2013 4:44 PM

Older laptops running xp may need to have the mousepad disabled in setup while your laptop is booting up...not after.

Jimh77
March 19, 2013 9:20 PM

I have noticed on more newer laptops the pad just does not work at all correctly. Get a wireless mouse. Beside for drawing the mouse pad sux.
I had to move back to XP, none of my programs are compatible with Win7, I am not spending another 1000.00 to upgrade my CAD programs.
MS can go screw em selves. I will keep XP and my programs and files till I die and I will take them to the crematorium with me.

Hankster
March 21, 2013 2:22 AM

Here is a free workaround. For the past few years I have been using a little utility at http://touchpad-blocker.com to avoid the accidental mousepad selection and delete block of text or reposition while typing, so I can vouch that it works well with both XP and Win7, have not tried on Win8 yet. Keeps you from needing to disable touchpad entirely because it lets you set a time limit for blocking "accidental" clicks.

SAL
March 22, 2013 12:58 AM

I solved this problem for my boss - who was having a similar problem with his new laptop - with TouchFreeze (a tiny and clever utility that disables the touchpad whilst you're typing). Hope it helps others with a similar problem.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.