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Help File

By Rob Pegoraro
Sunday, September 28, 2008

Q How can I stop the touchpad on my laptop from treating random taps as mouse clicks?

AMost Windows laptops seem to come with this "tap-to-click" feature enabled on their touchpads. If you find this leads you to click when you don't want to, you can turn it off -- after taking a few detours through Windows' interface.

First, open the Mouse Properties window. In Windows XP, go to the Start menu, select Control Panel, click "Printers and Other Hardware" and then "Mouse"; in Vista, hit the Start menu, select Control Panel, and click "Mouse" under its "Hardware and Sound" heading.

In that properties window, look for a tab not labeled "Buttons," "Pointers," "Pointer Options," "Wheel" or "Hardware," then click on it to see your laptop's specific touchpad settings. On a Dell laptop, for instance, a "Dell Touchpad" tab led to a screen with a "Touchpad Settings" link, which in turn revealed a "Tap to Click" checkbox that I could click to disable. On an HP machine, a "Device Settings" tab's "Settings . . . " button opened a window in which I could select a "Tapping" heading at the left, then click to clear its "Enable Tapping" checkbox.

Whether you like or hate tap-to-click, one thing's for sure: The people behind these settings screens desperately need to simplify them.

My iMac G5 did not come with a wireless card. Should I get Apple's AirPort card? A friend suggests a third-party USB adapter instead.

Yes, get an AirPort card. It will cost more, but it won't tie up one of your Mac's too-few USB ports.

Owners of such older Macs as the first line of G4 iMacs, however, don't have this option. Apple stopped making AirPort cards compatible with them years ago, leaving those buyers no choice but to purchase external WiFi adapters.

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 Turn to Thursday's Business section or visit anytime for his Fast Forward column.

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