Add multi-finger functionality to your Windows trackpad

Get in on the multitouch trackpad fun with these free downloads

Don't let MacBook owners keep all the convenience of multitouch scrolling and gestures for themselves. Crash the trackpad party with free downloads that add a whole lot of usefulness to your Windows laptop.

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Chances are, your laptop's trackpad is made by Synaptics. Synaptics has a new tool out, Scrybe, that adds multi-finger functionality to seemingly vanilla trackpads. Scrybe itself is an application that allows for drawing gestures on your trackpad to launch applications or web sites--an "I" for, or a question mark to search download the latest drivers. You will have to restart after installing the drivers, and probably restart one or two more times after this. Soldier on, though--it's worth it.

Now it's time to download Scrybe and install it. You'll notice, among the usual prompts and license agreements, that Scrybe installs an even newer batch of drivers with gesture support, which is just what we wanted. Finish the installation, restart your system, and check in your system tray, down by the date and time, for a red icon that looks like an upturned arrow. From here, you test, configure, and activate the gestures that Scrybe wants to set up. They're not too intrusive--you have to hold Control and Shift by default to make them recognizable, so you won't accidentally launch sites with your pointer motions. If they're not your cup of tea, though, feel free to head to your Control Panel, open "Add/Remove Programs" or "Uninstall a Program," and wipe away Scrybe--just don't remove your Synaptics drivers.

Head back to the mouse settings in your Control Panel, head to the far-right tab, and click the Settings button with "Synaptics TouchPad" selected. You'll see a whole lot more options here than you normally would. Expand the "Multi-Finger Gestures" section, click on the "Two-Finger Scrolling" item, and then click the little gears icon that appears just to the right. You can enable the two-finger scrolling in nearly any application, saving your fingers the effort of grabbing a scroll bar or heading to the awkward trackpad edge. Down below, there are options to rotate pictures with two fingers, swipe three fingers forward and back to move between pictures and other documents (in Windows itself, mostly), and even set up one or more applications and web sites to launch when you press down three fingers and hold them on the trackpad. I've set that to open up the shortcut for composing a new message in Gmail, and it's been a crafty little timesaver. There are more options to explore in here, so take some time to dig around.

If this Synaptics software just won't play nice with your system, or seems a bit much for just wanting some two-finger scrolling, grab a tiny little app dubbed (wait for it) two-finger-scroll. It's a tiny little utility that does just what it sounds like, adding horizontal and vertical scrolling to your laptop, regardless of your drivers. Consider it your backstage pass to the seemingly glamorous world of using more than one finger to get where you're going.

Kevin Purdy is a senior editor at Lifehacker, a daily technology and productivity blog.

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