One of the innovations added to Windows 10 is support for touchpad gestures. These let you manage the UI by using multiple fingers on the touchpad with various motions. But for such gestures to work, you must have the right hardware drivers installed. I’m talking about the subject of this post — namely Precision Touchpad drivers. Until recently, in fact, this meant that you had to have the right hardware to host those drivers. But thanks to Chris Hoffman at the How-to Geek, you can add Precision Touchpad drivers anywhere on any laptop.
How to Add Precision Touchpad Drivers Anywhere It Makes Sense
Hoffman covers all the details in his September 22 article “How to Enable Microsoft’s Precision Touchpad Drivers on Your Laptop.” I’ll give the 10,000 foot view here along with an important disclaimer he offers. Basically, this process works by forcibly installing Microsoft’s Precision Touchpad drivers onto your laptop PC. First, find out if your laptop has a Synaptics (all of mine do) or Elan (none here) touchpad installed. Then download its driver file (the Synaptics comes from Lenovo; the Elan comes from Softpedia). Unzip that file into a temporary directory.
The key to force-installing comes from a Device Manager “trick.” Because the hardware isn’t strictly compatible, DevMgr normally refuses to install it. There’s a workaround, though. First, “Browse your computer…” then select “Let me pick from a list of available drivers…” Next, navigate to the folder where you unpacked the ZIP file. Then select the Synaptics or ELAN driver you downloaded, and tell the installer to proceed when it balks for compatibility reasons.
Ordinarily, I would never recommend installing an incompatible driver. But two of my laptops are Lenovo ThinkPads. Encouragingly, the Synaptics driver comes from the same vendor. That’s why I decided to give this process a shot. I did have a hiccup after the first restart following the driver install (I got a BSOD during boot-up on my T520 laptop). Otherwise, the process worked without a hitch on all three of my laptops/tablets with Synaptics touchpads (two Lenovos and a Dell Venue Pro 11 7139).
Here’s what I see on my non-Precision Touchpad devices after force-installing the PT driver.
About That Disclaimer…
I didn’t experience any problems in running the driver upgrade on my laptops and tablet PCs, except for the aforementioned hiccup. Even so, Hoffman recommends that users have a physical mouse handy as they attempt this driver change. The worst thing that can happen is that you lose the ability to use your touchpad, right? So in case that happens, plug in or pair up your physical mouse before you reboot. Then, you can still run the UI to roll back the touchpad driver if the touchpad quits working after the restart is complete. But in most cases, it seems you can indeed add Precision Touchpad drivers anywhere. Good stuff!