Disable the Touch pad on an Ubuntu Laptop When an External Mouse Is Connected.

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One of my pet peeves when working on a laptop is the position of the touch pad, relevant to my right hand position. Probably due to my large hands, and the way I rest my palms when typing, the part of my palm that’s at the bottom of the thumb on my right hand typically always makes a connection with the touch pad, so when I’m doing lots of typing, either long form writing, or coding, I inevitably touch the touch pad with my hand, and the mouse cursor shoots all over the place. If I’m very unlucky, it might even copy/paste some text in the process.

For this reason, I always have an external mouse attached when using my laptop for anything other than browsing. And it means I need a way to ensure that the touch-pad is disabled when the external mouse it attached.

For the longest time I’ve been using the open source touchpad-indicator app, which has always just worked. Unfortunately it seems that since Ubuntu 20.04, the app does not work 100% on Ubuntu. It installs and automatically loads, but the icon doesn’t appear in the taskbar, and any attempts to configure it from the command line are unsuccessful.

While I can’t blame the developer of this app for not keeping things up to date, it does mean I have to find an alternative solution. Fortunately I stumbled across one, using the dconf-editor, on the AskUbuntu forums.

Installing dconf-editor is as easy as running:

sudo apt install dconf-editor

And then running dconf-editor from the command line.

The editor exposes MANY configuration settings, which, if you don’t know what you are doing, could quite easily bork your system. It does warn you about this, so you’ve been told!

Once opened, browse to the following settings:

/org/gnome/desktop/peripherals/touchpad/send-events

Under the Custom value setting for this item, change it from enabled to disabled-on-external-mouse

Close the editor, restart, and you should be good to go. I tested this with a Bluetooth mouse, and it works perfectly first time.

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