5 Ways to Add Touch to a Windows 8 Computer

Chris Hoffman 12-06-2013

windows 8 touch screenAccording to Microsoft, Windows 8 has a “touch-first” interface 6 Ways Microsoft Is Killing The Traditional Desktop In Windows 8 [Opinion] The traditional desktop is still around in Windows 8, and it’s probably the best Windows desktop yet (aside from not having a Start menu.) But Microsoft is setting it up for the kill. The writing... Read More . Windows 8’s Start screen and “Modern” apps can feel awkward to use on a non-touch PC, but they really start to make sense when paired with a touch PC. If you’re not ready to go out and buy a new Windows 8 laptop with touch, tablet Microsoft Surface Tablet Review and Giveaway Read More , convertible, or all-in-one PC, here are some ways you can add touch support to your existing system.


There is a reason Microsoft is pushing hard to integrate touch support into all future PCs Has Windows 8 Failed in the Market, or Only in Your Mind? Is Windows 8 a failure? People who dislike Windows 8 generally say it is. But has Windows 8 really failed in the marketplace, or do we just think Windows 8 has failed? One thing's for... Read More . None of these methods is as ideal as having a PC that comes with native touch support that “just works.”

Get a Touch Mouse or Pad

Microsoft and Logitech are both making touch-enabled peripherals, from touch-enabled mice to touchpads that can be used with a desktop PC. These are actually fairly convenient — they’re relatively inexpensive and easy to add to an existing PC. Swap out your current mouse for a touch-enabled mouse and you’ll be able to get around Windows 8 much quicker by using touch gestures for everything from bringing up the start screen to activating the charms and scrolling around in the Modern environment.

Microsoft has a list of their own touch mice on their website, while Logitech makes their own touch mice for Windows 8 and a touchpad that will allow you to work with Windows 8 gestures on your desktop. However, such touch-enabled mice are generally more expensive than regular mice, which can be had for very cheap. Amazon US offers some good deals on touch mice — you can pick up a new touch mouse for about $22 at the moment.

windows 8 touch screen

Install Touchpad Drivers

If you have a laptop, your laptop’s touchpad can probably be used with touchpad swiping gestures Everything You Need To Know About Windows 8 Swipe Gestures On A Laptop With the introduction of Windows 8, a lot of brand-new touch-friendly features have been added to make the operating system enjoyable to use on touch-enabled devices. However, for typical laptops which only have touchpads for... Read More . For example, these gestures allow you to swipe in from the right to pull up the Charms bar How To Shut Down Windows 8 Windows 8 brings the biggest changes to the familiar Windows interface since Windows 95. The Shut Down option isn’t where you’d expect to find it – in fact, the entire classic Start menu and Start... Read More , just as you would on a touch-enabled Windows 8 PC. If you purchased a new laptop with Windows 8, this should work out-of-the-box.


If you’re using an older laptop that was upgraded to Windows 8 Upgrading to Windows 8? Get Settled In Faster with these Tips If it's about time you purchase a new computer, that computer is probably going to come with Windows 8. Microsoft hasn't included a tutorial with Windows 8 -- aside from the cryptic "move your mouse... Read More and gestures aren’t working for you, you may need to install the Synaptics TouchPad driver package for Windows 8.

windows 8 touch

Buy a Touch-enabled Monitor

If you have a desktop computer and want to add complete touch support, you can buy a touch-enabled monitor. Unfortunately, these tend to be fairly expensive. You’ll have to replace your existing monitor or make the touch-enabled monitor your new primary and use your current monitor as a second monitor 3 Easy Steps to a Dual Monitor Setup and an Extended Desktop A dual monitor setup is wonderful. But does your PC support multiple monitors? We'll show you how to use two monitors or more. Read More .

You can find 22-inch touch-enabled monitors for around $300 on Amazon in the US, but you can get better monitors for the money if you’re willing to go without touch. Many of the more expensive touch monitor models will cost you $500 or more.


windows 8 touch

Add a Touch-screen Overlay

Various manufacturers make touch-screen overlays that you can install over your existing monitor, converting it to a touch-enabled screen. You’ll have to plug the overlay into your computer separately with its USB connection. These aren’t the ideal solution either, as they can be fairly expensive — costing around $150 on Amazon US. That’s half the price of a new, touch-enabled monitor.

windows 8 touch

Connect Remotely with a Tablet

If you have an iPad or an Android tablet, you can use the Splashtop How To Test Windows 8 On A Tablet It’s no secret that Windows 8's new interface is a "touch-first experience" – Microsoft said it themselves. If you’re curious about upgrading to Windows 8, you can try Windows 8 on your PC – but... Read More Windows software The Best PC Software for Your Windows Computer Want the best PC software for your Windows computer? Our massive list collects the best and safest programs for all needs. Read More to remotely connect to your Windows 8 PC How To Test Windows 8 On A Tablet It’s no secret that Windows 8's new interface is a "touch-first experience" – Microsoft said it themselves. If you’re curious about upgrading to Windows 8, you can try Windows 8 on your PC – but... Read More . You can then use the tablet as a touch interface for your Windows 8 PC, using Windows 8’s Modern interface on your existing tablet. This will allow you to try out Windows 8 on a tablet, but it’s clearly not the ideal long-term solution for working with Windows 8 on your PC.


windows 8 touch screen

What’s the Best Solution?

If you want to add some basic touch support to your existing Windows computer, buying a touch-enabled mouse or ensuring your touchpad is set up to work with Windows 8’s mouse gestures is a smart move. This is a relatively inexpensive way to use basic touch gestures, which make getting around the Windows 8 operating system much nicer. A touch mouse can even be a useful purchase if you have a touch-enabled Windows laptop and find yourself using the mouse a lot — you can issue touch gestures without taking your hand off the mouse.

If you really want to convert your existing desktop PC to a touch PC, you can buy a fairly expensive touch-enabled monitor or try to find an overlay that fits your monitor properly.

However, neither of these is really the ideal solution. For one thing, Windows 8 isn’t really optimized for massive desktop monitors, so purchasing such an expensive monitor won’t give you the ideal experience. For another thing, your monitor will still remain trapped on your desk, so you can’t pick it up and take it elsewhere. And a touch-based mouse won’t give you the full touch experience.


The best way to add touch to your Windows 8 life is by buying a new device that includes it. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds — you can purchase Windows 8 tablets and touch-enabled laptops for less than the price of some of the more expensive 22-inch touch monitors. And you’ll certainly have a better experience with a 10-13-inch tablet or touch-enabled laptop than a 22-inch touch-enabled monitor trapped on your desk.

Have you added touch support to an existing PC? Do you have a favorite method for doing so? Leave a comment and share any tips you have!

Image Credit: Hand on laptop touchpad via Shutterstock

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  1. barrett littleton.
    October 10, 2013 at 12:07 am

    you have been able to replace the existing screen with a touch screen for awhile. meanwhile, use both the mouse and the touchpad. when upgraded use the screen and the mouse plus shortcuts.

  2. Joy Aklibosu
    June 29, 2013 at 3:41 am

    Great giveaways. Hope I win something.

  3. Onaje Asheber
    June 20, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Thank you!

  4. Henk van Setten
    June 13, 2013 at 8:42 am

    I guess if I really needed touch I would go for the touch mouse option. But for a desktop PC, an actual touch screen would make no sense at all. It would be all wrong from an ergonomical point of view.
    Why? With a mouse you can do everything while you can keep your arm stationary, resting on the table top. With a desktop touch screen you would need to lift and move your arm all the time - ergonomically that would be no improvement, on the contrary! Also, making a full swipe movement on a big desktop screen would in fact take a few milliseconds more time than a quick short flick with the mouse...
    As long as Microsoft clings to the basically wrong concept of forcing a touch interface onto desktop users, I will keep using Win7.

    • Luong Barlow
      June 14, 2013 at 3:48 am

      Tablet-pc AIOs solved it. There were already a bunch on the market. Whats more, they remove the need of keyboard or mouse. If you meant swiping pages, I would say it took exactly the same effort whether on a 4in Iphone or a 27in AIO. But if you mean drawing a line across the screen, yes, it took longer.

    • Instant Cow
      July 31, 2016 at 9:25 pm

      You're realistically incorrect. The amount of time it takes to move your hand onto your keyboard and onto your mouse is roughly 2-3 seconds. A nice delay. And if said mouse isn't built to have as less mouse click delay as possible from actually pressing button to sending that command to the PC, we have a problem.

      Whereas the Touch screen interfaces don't really have that delay unless your finger is huge and have a hard time pressing smaller buttons on the screen.

      Realistically, if you timed how long it took to click a button on the screen and comparing that same thought with touching the button instead, you'd see no difference. As far as I can tell, the only thing that takes long is the time prior to taking that action and the time it actually takes to load the action.

      Nice try though. You're just ranting.

  5. Koshy George
    June 13, 2013 at 5:54 am

    Getting a version of windows 7.

    • Mauricio A
      June 18, 2013 at 10:24 pm

      The best version microsoft has made next to xp

  6. Shehan Fernando
    June 13, 2013 at 3:22 am

    What about technologies like Leap Motion, Kinect, Eye Sight ?...

    • Pierre BRIENNE
      June 13, 2013 at 11:14 am

      Leap Motion is simply the future of Human–computer interaction! How could you forget to include it? It allows you to control your PC (or Mac) with gestures without actually touching the screen. And it's really cheaper than a touch screen - $79.99.