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I'm one of today's best-selling computer book writers, with more than 15 million books in print.

This website keeps you up-to-date on my books, and your computers. Each week, I answer a reader's question on-line.

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My laptop keeps opening windows and menus by itself!

Change your touchpad settings to keep it from opening items automatically.Q: When I leave my laptop’s mouse pointer hovering over certain places on the screen, it opens and closes items by itself.

This happens throughout Windows 7, even when I inadvertently leave the pointer resting over something.

Is there any way I can make Windows only open things when I click them?

A: Laptops and their trackpads can be notoriously uncooperative. A tap in the wrong spot, or the inadvertent touch of a shirtsleeve, can send the pointer scurrying.

In your case, your thoughtful trackpad notices that you’ve left the pointer hovering over a menu option or icon. So, after waiting a few seconds, your trackpad tries to help you out by automatically choosing that item for you.

It’s easy enough to tell it to stop being so helpful, though, by following these steps:

  1. Right-click the Start button and choose “Properties.”  The “Taskbar and Start Menu Properties” window appears.
  2. Click the “Start Menu” tab, if necessary.
  3. Click the “Customize” button near the top; the “Customize Start Menu” dialog box appears.
  4. Scroll down and uncheck the box called, “Open submenus when I pause on them with the mouse pointer.”
  5. Click “OK” on the dialog boxes to close them.

That brings the touchpad back under your own control, rather than subject to your computer’s assumptions.

Personally, I loathe touchpads. Instead, I carry around a small wireless Adesso mouse that’s easy to slip into the bag with my laptop or tablet. You’ll find many other portable wireless mice on Amazon, and they’re much more intuitive than trackpads.


Comment from Tamara
Time August 19, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Alas, this is unchecked but my pointer still opens things automatically if I’m not careful to move it to a blank part of the page before I start typing. This even moves my curser to a previous part of the text I’m working on so suddenly my words appear at an earlier part of an email. It also happens on websites. If I leave my curser for a second or two, it automatically selects or opens whatever my curser happens to be on. Any other suggestions?

Comment from Andy Rathbone
Time August 22, 2012 at 1:14 am

Tamara – To see if the problem stems from your touchpad, borrow a USB mouse from a desktop computer, and try that for a few hours. If the problem doesn’t happen, you’ll know the problem lies with your laptop’s touchpad.

If that’s the case, drop by your laptop manufacturer’s website, check the Support section, and look for Downloads. Sometimes installing an updated touchpad driver can cure problems that have caused headaches for months.

Comment from Tamara
Time August 19, 2012 at 7:27 pm

I’m using Windows XP pro SP3.

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