Laptops offer many advantages compared to desktop computers. Most importantly they are small and portable. The convenient hardware features of laptops, however, also imply a lot of limitations, for example finite battery life, a smaller keyboard, or an irritating touchpad.
In this article I will introduce you to a selection of programs for laptops that address these hardware limitations. The tools in this list will make working with your laptop keyboard and touchpad more convenient and increase battery lifetime. And just in case someone takes advantage of its portability, you better had a tool installed that allows you to track your laptop.
One of the greatest annoyances on a laptop can be the touchpad. The most common issue is that the cursor is accidentally triggered and jumps to a random place while you are typing and gently brushing over the touchpad with your hands. This is especially common for people who touch type. TouchFreeze helps solve the issue by automatically disabling the touchpad while the keyboard is in use.
Unfortunately, it does not work on all hardware.
Another tool that tries to deal with the touchpad dilemma is AutoSensitivity. The tool can be used to control the sensitivity of the touchpad and the mouse. A lower sensitivity basically means that the cursor will be less responsive or slower.
Unfortunately, my hardware doesn’t seem to allow separate settings for touchpad and mouse sensitivity and hence the tool did not work as expected. Note that AutoSensitivity requires .NET Framework 3.5 or 4.0.
Touchpads that only support the use of a single finger are utterly limited. Yet the hardware often is capable of interpreting the touch of two or even three fingers at once. This is where Two-Finger-Scroll comes in and taps into the unused potential of your touchpad.
It doesn’t exactly enable multi-touch features known from iOS or Android devices. However, it does enable some familiar behaviors. For example you will be able to scroll up and down when you swipe over the touchpad using two fingers, while using one finger will only move the cursor.
It also supports different behaviors for tapping the touchpad. For example you can assign tapping with two fingers to activating the left and tapping with three fingers to activating the right mouse button. ‘One + one‘ or ‘two + one‘ means that you rest one or two fingers on the touchpad and tap with a second or third finger, respectively.
Whether or not these features will work for you depends on your touchpad. Unlike some of the other tools above, they worked perfectly for me, although it does take some practice to get the tapping just right.
Two-Finger-Scroll received thorough coverage here - How To Easily Activate Two Finger Scroll In Windows Laptops
Laptops are small and so are their keyboards, hence the transition from a full-sized keyboard can be hard. Moreover, some functions require hitting several keys, which can be inconvenient. At the same time, there may be keys available that you never use.
If you want to put some of your unused keys to good use, try SharpKeys, an application that allows you to remap your keys by tweaking the registry. Apart from remapping keys, you can also turn keys off, i.e. disable them.
SharpKeys was featured on MakeUseOf along with two similar tools in this article: Remap Keyboard Keys with These 3 Free Apps [Windows].
Aerofoil tackles the limited energy resources when your laptop is running on battery power. Once you disconnect from A/C power, Aerofoil will step in and optimize your Windows Vista or Windows 7 system for saving power. It does that by disabling Windows features like Aero Glass, muting the sound, or switching to a different Windows power plan.
Some sources claim that Aerofoil can extend your battery life by up to 25%. The tool runs on minimal system resources and all features are optional. Aerofoil is available for Windows Vista and Windows 7 in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
Note that if you get an error message saying msvcp100.dll is missing, you may need a Windows update. Details are listed on the download page for Aerofoil, below the download links for the tool itself.
Do you often work in public places and are you worried that your laptop might get stolen? Prey won’t protect your laptop from thieves, but if it ever does get taken away from you, you can use the software to keep track of its location and possibly get it back.
For a comprehensive introduction to Prey, check out this article - Track Down and Recover Your Stolen Laptop with Prey.
You may also be interested in similar tools, that we have covered in the following articles and Directory entries :
- Protect And Track Your Laptop In Case Of Theft
- Use LocatePC to Secure and Find Stolen PC for Free
- LockitTight: Helps to Locate Your Stolen Laptop
- ihoundSoftware: Find Lost Gadgets and Cell Phones
For more great applications specifically for your netbook, please check out these articles:
What are your best tips and tricks for working with a laptop or netbook? Are there any gems you would like to share with us?
Image credits: Yuri Arcurs