Configuring Synaptics Touchpad on a Macbook Under Linux

It has been a while since I’ve posted anything up but today I’ve got a couple of little touchpad tips.

My current everyday machine is an old Macbook 2,1 that I’ve had for quite a long time, just over 4 years if memory serves me correctly. Now most of the time I really enjoy the Apple hardware in this machine, if not the software. There is, however, the more than occasional time that I need to make the hardware play nice with the software I choose to use. Most of the time it’s not a case of a piece of hardware not working at all but – because it is Apple after all – it working in a way I don’t want, or mostly working but not just not perfectly. The Synaptics touchpad is one of these devices.

Today, after finally getting the shits with accidentally getting somewhat near the touchpad with my palm and again finding myself editing the wrong damn sentence of my PhD thesis, I got my google fu out to find a solution.

And what a solution I found. So good, in fact, that I need do nothing but direct you towards it as all I did was to pretty much take the configuration provided and drop it in the correct place. Job done.

However! Before you all get too carried away with Synaptics goodness lets just really quickly solve a problem I’ve found under Linux Mint once or twice. Namely, how does one configure touchpad options that Gnome Shell/Linux Mint does not reveal in the GUI? Shame this nice little solution will be well and truly superseded by what follows. Oh well.

Problem: In Linux Mint 12 with Gnome Shell, the GUI installed by default provides access to only a few of the settings that the Synaptics touchpad supports.

Solution: Installing the package  gpointing-device-settings installs ‘Pointing Devices‘ settings GUI.

Procedure:
$ sudo aptitude install gpointing-device-settings

Right, now that’s out of the way, if you came here to really configure your Synaptics touchpad you’re going to want to get to many more settings than are revealed through gpointing-device-settings, and for that you’ll need a commandline and synclient. What you really want to do, however, is head over to the useless use of cat blog and read the excellent post on ‘Tuning the Macbook touchpad in Linux’.

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6 thoughts on “Configuring Synaptics Touchpad on a Macbook Under Linux

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  5. The useless use of cat blog is down :( Can you provide the data that the blog provided on tuning the macbook touchpad settings? My google-fu brought me here but I need help tuning the settings.

    • Shame it’s down because it was a quite detailed post and I’ve not kept a copy of it. With luck it’ll return sometime.

      In the meantine I can provide you with the settings I used, and a link or two that should get you going in the right direction.

      First, you can view your current settings using synclient.

      synclient -l

      And you can change these settings by assigning a new value eg:

      synclient FingerHigh=50

      This command changes the sensitivity of the touchpad so that it’s not quite as sensitive as the default setting of 30, which I like as I don’t accidentally move the cursor as I type quite as often.

      The other two I changed were:

      synclient TapButton2=3
      synclient TapButton3=2

      That gave me a 3 finger middle click, and a two finder right click.

      These settings, however, are not perminant and need to be added to a configuration file to persist, see the links below.

      Links:
      Synaptics Touchpad Arch Linux Wiki
      The answer to this question on askubuntu.com
      And the section on synclient in this blog post

      Note: The location of your config file may vary. While the Arch Wiki suggests that under Arch it’s at /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/50-synaptics.conf, on my Ubuntu system it’s at /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/50-synaptics.conf

      Hope this helps.

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