Using Windows 8 Without A Touchscreen

Initially I wasn’t sure if I should upgrade my Sony Vaio Z laptop to Windows 8. It doesn’t have a touchscreen, and Windows 8 was designed primarily for touchscreens. However, since I have a Windows Phone and will be getting a Surface tablet next week, I decided to give Windows 8 a try, to keep things uniform across all of my devices.

What I’ve found is that you can do many of the same gestures with your mouse touch pad that you could do with a touch screen. You can see a demonstration in the video below, but here’s a quick cheat-sheet.

Please note, you may need to change your mouse settings to get the most out of Windows 8. Go to your Control Panel, search for “mouse” and click on “change mouse settings.” Go to the Synaptics Device Manager. If you don’t have Synaptics downloaded, go do that – whether you’re using Windows 8 or not, it will probably give you better control over your mouse pad. (If your computer doesn’t use a Synaptics touchpad – or it’s too old to support multi-touch gestures, I can’t help you; you’ll have to talk to someone who knows more about computers than I do.)

Click on “settings” and check the following boxes:


Some of the gestures listed below involve starting your finger swipe from outside of the touchpad. What I mean by that is, place your finger about half an inch or an inch outside of the touchpad, and then swipe in towards the middle.

These gestures may take a little getting used to, and you may also go through a period where you make them accidentally. Keep at it – it will be second nature in no time, and you’ll be flying through screens in a way you couldn’t before.

For the purposes of Windows 8 gestures, everything open in Desktop mode (the old-school way to open programs) is treated as a single “app.”

Windows 8 TouchPad Cheat Sheet

To access the Windows 8 Start Screen, place your mouse pointer in the bottom left corner of your screen, and click on the little Start Screen when it pops up.

To go back to the last open app used, do the same as above.

To see all open apps, place your mouse pointer in the bottom left corner of your screen, and after the little Start Screen pops up, swipe straight up.

From there, you can click on an app to maximize it, right click it to maximize it or close it, or drag it to the main window.

To switch between all open apps, swipe from outside of the left side of the touch pad, in towards the center. Doing this multiple times will keep switching between all open apps.

To access the Charm Screen (search, share, start, etc.), swipe from outside of the right side of the touch pad, in towards the center. Repeat to close Charm Screen, or tap in main window. Or, place your mouse pointer in the bottom right corner of your screen.

To access hidden menus in apps, swipe from outside of the top of the touch pad, down towards the center. Repeat to close menu, or tap in main window.

To close an app, place your mouse pointer at the top of the screen (it will turn into a hand), hold down the left click button, and drag the app all the way down to the bottom of the screen.

I’m sure there are many more gestures than that – if you know of any, please leave them in the comments.

Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 0. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.


  1. says

    I have a Windows 8 machine without a touchscreen (HP Envy) and even after almost three months of using it, I find myself wishing it had a touchscreen. I am still getting used to the touchpad gestures and find myself accidentally doing gestures I never meant to. It’s a definite learning curve. I cheat a lot of the time and use a wireless mouse.

    • says

      @FiddleDeeAshley: I totally sympathize. For the first week I kept accidentally switching screens all the time. But eventually my finger learned not to travel around the outside of the pad if it didn’t have to. I’ve only been at it for a couple of weeks but I think I got the hang of it so quickly because I almost never use a mouse.

      If I didn’t have an amazing computer that I love I’d probably get either the Yoga or a Surface Pro. But since my laptop is already really small I’m compromising by getting a Surface RT. It was technically a Christmas gift but I keep waiting to see if they go down in price. Still waiting…

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