I asked X-windows users how they obtain full 3-button functionality on Windows 10 laptops, which generally lack a middle button. I assumed that Windows 10's multi-finger tap emulation of different mouse buttons does not allow for click, hold, drag, and release. I found confirmation of this in a post of the exact same problem 2 years ago, but I don't have enough reputation points to add a comment and ask what the eventual solution was.

I'm worried that by moving to Windows 10, I'll be at the mercy of having to haul around a mouse wherever I might go, and being handcuffed on frequent occassions in which I don't have it.

Examples of middle mouse dragging functions in a mixed Unix/Windows environment

  • xterm: Pulls up various context menus
  • xpdf: Panning (xpdf works well with LaTeX because the PDF file can be updated without closing the viewer)
  • Inkscape: Middle mouse drag is used for panning, among other things
  • Word: Panning
  • Excel: Panning

Possible solution, requiring confirmation: I found suggested registry edits online (captured below). If a kind soul with Windows 10 can confirm that it works, I would be eternally grateful (for the next 10 years). It would remove a fundamental road block to my abandoning the sinking Windows 7 for the safety of Windows 10.

I'll probably still try to find a touchpad with real buttons, though unsuccessfully. The single piece touch pad with clickable corners works poorly for me. When I reach down to click the lower right corner to emulate a right button click, I unintentionally move the pointer.

Three Fingers Tap as Middle Click

Let’s fix the Three Fingers Tap behavior. I want to disable Cortana and enable the middle click button.

  • Open the Start menu and type regedit. Open it (and give it all the authorizations it needs to make changes to your computer).
  • On the left panel navigate to this location
  • Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Elantech\SmartPad
  • In the right panel search for Tap_Three_Finger and double click it. Set its value to 2
  • Eventually check that the Tap_Three_Finger_Enable is set to 1.

No Delay for Drop when Dragging (drop on finger lift)

  • Again in Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Elantech\SmartPad
  • Search for the Drag_Radio key.
  • Set its value to 2 to immediately drop on finger lift.

Done. Now the three finger tap will be a middle click and the drag and drop will be instantaneous.

Afternote: The big uncertainty that I noticed above is that it refers to ElanTech software. It might not be native to Windows 10.

  • 1
    The real "fringe" is using the built-in trackpad for anything other than emergency. Of course everybody who is using a laptop for real work is carrying around a mouse. (And very few applications have a useful use for middle click-drag-release.) – AlexP Nov 17 '19 at 17:41
  • You are looking at the subset of people that use Hardware: trackpad, OS: Windows 10: Windowing system: X11. – ctrl-alt-delor Nov 17 '19 at 18:20
  • Is this a Unix question? – ctrl-alt-delor Nov 17 '19 at 18:20
  • I'd say that the question is more aligned with the Unix stack exchange than the Superuser stack exchange. There are more Windows machines than Unix machines, so I suspect that it's more likely for a unix user to rely on a Windows machine than the reverse. In other words, I expect the question to be of relevance to a greater portion of the unix crowd than the Superuser crowd. But in terms of hard numbers, I don't know what portion of Unix users rely on machines designed with Windows in mind. – user2153235 Nov 17 '19 at 23:52

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