I'm a big fan of using bash, gvim, xpdf, xterm, x-windows, and many of the unix-like utilities that Cygwin has.

I have a question that I suspect goes beyond Cygwin and applies to anyone using a Unix-like environment on a laptop that is built for Windows. These days, the touchpad on most such laptops rarely have a middle button, which is used for many things in X-windows (e.g., pasting, calling menus). I confirmed the lack of middle buttons on touch pads over the past two weekends of visiting brick-and-mortar stores to find a new laptop (after the warning that support for Windows 7 will soon end).

This problem of a missing middle button is not solved by tapping methods for emulating a middle button click. Such emulation doesn't allow for click, hold, and drag, e.g., the 3-finger tap in Windows 10. Additionally, being shackled to a mouse is not a good solution for me, as I will surely be without one at some point, which makes the laptop useless.

For the past 1.5 decades, my solution on Windows 7 has been to program the left button to act as a middle button. The left button functionality can be emulated using only the touch pad, by activating Synaptics TouchPad switches for "Tap again and hold to drag" and "Locking Drags". Unfortunately, Synaptics is on an extreme minority of the laptops that I've looked at over the past two weekends, and only on low end machines that don't meet my criteria.

How have other x-windows users dealt with the absence of a middle button? I am too wedded to the Microsoft world to go with a non Windows machine.

Please note that I posed a similar question elsewhere, but I have since found out more about the laptops out there, as reflected in this post. As well, I don't think that a general computing forum is most appropriate, as the question is only of interest to X-windows users. If the powers that be are concerned about duplication, please let me know and I will remove the other question.

Afternote: After some web searching about installing Synaptics on one's own after buying a laptop, it very much looks as if this is done at one's peril. I was hoping that this might be a fallback plan, but it seems to be fraught with uncertainty.


1 Answer 1


Try to click left and right buttons at the same time.

I use this on my Acer laptop (originally made for Windows) to paste, or to middle-click on scroll bars. It was either the default, or just an option in Ubuntu options. I don't have Synaptic for touchpads. Not sure about click and drag.

  • 1
    Thanks, but while that used to work years ago, it hasn't for recent years. Commented Jul 11, 2023 at 15:53

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