Add an on-screen trackpad to your Surface or Windows 8 touchscreen computer

Add an on-screen trackpad to your Surface or Windows 8 touchscreen computer

Spend some time using a laptop and you'll get used to working with a trackpad. These may work in a different way to a mouse -- and can take a little getting used to -- but they get the job done without the need for an extra peripheral. But if you have a Surface and forget to pop your keyboard in your bag, or just don’t want to use the physical trackpad, you may like the idea of controlling your cursor with a virtual, on-screen trackpad.

This is where TouchMousePointer can help you out, and this app is available completely free of charge -- grab yourself a copy from the download link below. It's worth noting that this will not install on Windows RT, only full-fat Windows 8 or Windows 8.1. Run through the installation and accept all of the default options: there's really need to change anything at this stage.

You'll be asked if you would like to add TouchMousePointer to the taskbar, and you should select Yes to make it easier to access to the tool. Just tap the icon to show or hide the trackpad.

By default the virtual trackpad appears as a sidebar to the right hand side of the screen, but this can be adjusted. In the image below, taken on a Surface Pro, I've rotated into portrait mode so the button are arranged slightly differently.

You might find that this positioning is a little awkward, but if you right click the system tray icon (or tap and hold it using your touchscreen), you can opt to float it instead.

Using the on-screen trackpad is no different to using a real trackpad. There are L and R buttons for the left and right buttons, and you can move the cursor around the screen by moving your finger in the black square -- but remember that cursor movement will not be directly position relative and you'll find several swipes are needed to get from one side of the screen to the other.

TouchMousePointer has various options to configure. Right click the system tray icon and select the Setting option. On the Current mode tab you can choose the appearance of the trackpad. If you opt to use Side mode you can then use the drop down menu to pick which screen edge it should be locked to.

Move to the Side/Float tab and there are even more options to work with. You can choose what happens when the trackpad is tapped or double tapped as well as configured two, three and four finger gestures.

Take the app for a spin. It gives you a great new way to interact with your Surface, particularly when you are working in desktop mode.

Share your thoughts below and let us know if you've found any other handy utilities like this.