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As an engineer and programmer, when I run into something with my computer that I want to do, I normally like to do it as cleanly as possible.

Recently (within the last 2 weeks) I acquired a Lenovo IdeaPad. It’s immediately become at least one of my new best friends. However, I usually have a mouse associated with it, so I find the touchpad almost useless. Nevertheless, it would be rather obnoxious to not be able to use the touchpad if I did not have a mouse connected.

I obviously did a little bit of searching online, and found that it had been disabled on a registry-level by Synaptics. A few restore points and regedits later, I figured out what needed to be done. Note that I am doing this on Windows 7. Most likely, your manufacturer has drivers to do something similar to this in Vista or XP – try googling for them before you go as far as to edit your registry.

Why would I want to do this?

Learning how to edit your registry is fun. Besides, it’s pretty annoying when my touchpad activates while I’m typing, or clicks on something, when I have a mouse nearby. However, I do not want it to be activated all of the time, otherwise when I am on-the-go and forgot my mouse I will not be able to use my laptop. And that would be bad!

What do I need? What skill level is this?

  • Skill level: Beginner to intermediate. I tried to mix in as many images as possible.
  • Gather the following:
    • A mouse
    • A text editor
    • A laptop running Windows 7 (this is done on a Lenovo IdeaPad Y570)
    • An Administrator account. A Standard account WILL NOT be able to do this.

Step 1: Open NotePad and do some code.

The first thing you are going to want to do is, as stated, open notepad and throw in the following code.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


First line identifies that this is going to edit your registry, third line identifies where the file needs to go, and the fourth line tells it to disable itself when a mouse is connected. (dword:000000033 is derived because, as a hex, 33H identifies DOS’s mouse driver – the default driver that allows you to move your mouse around when you plug it in if your manufacturer did not provide a driver for it. Cool fun fact I learned from playing with x86) Go ahead and save this as a .txt file.

Step 2: Enable extension viewing

You can ignore this step if you already have extensions enabled.

By default, Windows doesn’t let you view extensions. Go to your Start menu, and type in Folder Options. Hit enter, and that will open a dialog box that contains folder options. Along the top, you will see three tabs: General, View, and Search. Click on View.

This will display a list of options. You shouldn’t need to scroll to see an option that says Hide extensions for known file types. This will most likely be checkmarked by default; uncheck it, click on Apply and then OK.

Show extensions for known file types

Step 3: Change your file extension

Now that you can view file extensions, you will need to change that file from a .txt to a .reg. Simply right-click on it and choose “Rename”. Delete the .txt extension, and add .reg. When Windows prompts you that this may make it unusable, tell it to change it anyway!

If this was done properly, it should no longer have an icon that looks like something from notepad or your default text editor, but should instead appear to have a teal Rubiks cube as its icon.

Step 4: Double click.

Double click on the file. Windows will warn you that this will edit your registry, and you might need to give it administrative privileges. Hit “Yes” again when it informs you that it is going to edit your registry, and then you should see a final pop-up to let you know that your registry has been edited.

Step 5: Profit.

You may need to navigate to your mouse properties in order to encourage it to work. To do this, simply open your Star menu, type in main.cpl, and hit enter. I ended up navigating to the last tab, Device Settings, before I saw any change.

When the change is acknowledged by your computer, you will normally see a brief popup from your taskbar informing you that Synaptics has been disabled because another pointing device is connected. If you don’t see that, you may not have inserted the code properly. Open regedit (Start Menu > Regedit) and navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Synaptics > SynTPEnh. You should see a list of registry entries to the right, and one of these should read DisableIntPDFeature. Right-click, select Modify and ensure that Value Data says 33 in it (with Hexdecimal selected under Base).

Edit registry to disable touchpad when mouse is connected.

Also, another fun tidbit: if you close and reopen main.cpl, and navigate to the last tab after your computer informs you that it has disabled touchpad, you will now be able to enable and disable this feature at your leisure. Check the screen:

Disable Synaptics touchpad when external mouse is connected.


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