I had customized the hard drives on my new Acer Aspire V3-772G-9829 and installed Windows 7, with related adjustments and tweaks. Now I had to deal with a problem. The mouse would suddenly become active, while I was typing, and the words that I had intended to type in one place were suddenly appearing in another. This had not been such a severe issue during the installation and tweaking process, because not much typing was involved, but now it had become an issue.
This problem was not program-specific: it happened in Notepad, in Word 2010, in Excel, and when typing these words into this post. Usually, it seemed that the mouse cursor would suddenly come alive, and I would be typing letters into the location where that cursor appeared. But sometimes the characters would go elsewhere — to the start of this post, for instance — even when that’s not where the mouse cursor was. If the mouse cursor was outside this window, it would happen less frequently; but when it did happen, I would instead be typing characters into another program.
The problem did not appear to be specific to Windows 7. I found indications that a number of people had encountered it in Windows XP as well.
A number of users’ comments implicated the drivers. I wasn’t sure that would explain my problem: it occurred regardless of whether I booted Windows 7 in Normal or Safe Mode. I wondered whether I was having this problem because I was attempting to use a Windows 8 mouse or touchpad driver in Windows 7; Acer had not released any drivers specifically intended for Windows 7 for this machine. On reflection, however, I recalled that I had also recently encountered the problem on a Lenovo ThinkPad. The problem seemed to be laptop-specific, not Acer-specific.
After a while, it occurred to me that I had connected all of these mice, wireless or wired, to a USB 3.0 port, and that could be problematic because, as described in the Windows 7 installation post (above), I had not been able to find USB 3.0-specific drivers. The ports worked, but not for 3.0. But switching the plugs over to the USB 2.0 sockets made no difference.
Searches for a jumpy or touchy mouse led to a variety of complaints and suggestions. These included going into Control Panel > Mouse > Pointer Options tab and turning off “Enhance pointer precision” and “Hide pointer while typing”; trying different mice; and going into Control Panel > Device Manager > Synaptics touchpad > right-click > Uninstall (there was no Disable option). I had decided to uninstall the Synaptics device only after seeing that its entry in Device Manager did not offer the kinds of settings, on my machine, that seemed to be visible to others.
It was possible that, somehow, all of the mice had collected dust in their laser beams at the same time. I used compressed air to blow the dust away. It made no difference. I tried using a different mouse pad: no effect. Running SFC /SCANNOW did not help. Windows Updates did not help; I was current on those.
I agreed with a thread indicating that the problem could be an incredibly sensitive touchpad. Problem was, I could find no references to the touchpad in Device Manager, once I uninstalled that Synaptic device. And yet the touchpad was still functioning! I decided to reinstall the Synaptic drivers provided by Acer. On reboot, Control Panel > Mouse still provided no Tapping option that, I felt, was probably the key to the problem.
I wondered if the problem was that I had installed drivers for both Synaptic and Elantech touchpads, not being sure which my Acer had. In Control Panel > Mouse, I saw tabs for both devices. Start > Run > MSINFO32.EXE told me that my touchpad was a Synaptics, not Elantech, device. In Control Panel > Programs and Features, I saw an installed copy of Elan Microelectronic Corp.’s ETDWare. I uninstalled that. Not surprisingly, I saw no reference to an Elantech touchpad in Device Manager, since it did not exist; therefore I could not uninstall it. Uninstalling ETDWare removed the Elan tab from Control Panel > Mouse properties.
On reboot, after uninstalling ETDWare, the Mouse properties dialog had changed, due perhaps to the self-installation of the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center. There was no longer a tab for the Synaptics touchpad, but the cursor problem persisted. I saw Synaptics Pointing Device Driver in Programs and Features, but no Synaptics device in Device Manager. I downloaded and installed the generic Windows 7 and 8 driver (version 16) from the Synaptics website. I had to uninstall the current (newer, version 17) Synaptics driver from Programs and Features before I could install the generic one. Installing the older one did give me a Disable option in Mouse Properties > Device Settings (Synaptic) tab. I decided to try that, since the cursor problem was still with me. There was still no Disable option in Device Manager, though at least the Synaptics device did appear there.
The Disable option seemed to solve the problem: I was able to type without difficulty. The test was that, this time, the touchpad was indeed nonresponsive. This state of affairs suggested that I would be able to use the Acer only with an external mouse, since enabling the touchpad would once again make the keyboard virtually unusable — unless perhaps I could instead use the touchpad with an external keyboard. Neither solution was a paragon of portability.
With the cursor problem solved, I was able to undo some of the other fixes I had tried. I rechecked the Mouse Properties options for pointer precision, hiding the cursor, and so forth; I resumed using my preferred mouse. And I awaited the day when Acer would release Windows 7 drivers for this machine.
Later, I had a problem with my printer. My Brother MFC-7340 multifunction device would scan, but would not print. I wondered whether that problem was due to my attempt to connect it through an old USB hub, rather than directly to the computer. I had always been connecting it directly to the desktop, but there weren’t enough USB ports for everything on the laptop; hence the attempt to connect through a hub. I mention this printer problem because, after I uninstalled and reinstalled its drivers, the hyperactive cursor problem returned. I did not recall re-enabling the Synaptics touchpad, though perhaps I had; but by whatever route, it had become active again. From this background, I wondered whether the old printer and/or the old USB hub were culprits in the mouse cursor problem. I tried re-enabling the touchpad after installing a new printer and a new USB hub. There no longer seemed to be a problem. I had sold the old devices before returning to add these notes, and thus was not able to test the old hub and printer separately, to see which might have been responsible.