Making Firefox Scroll With Synaptics TouchPad

Even though, as a web designer, I hate Internet Explorer I’ve been using it regularly on my laptop more or less since I got it. The reason for this sad state of affairs was that Firefox wouldn’t recognise the scroll buttons on the Synaptics TouchPad and so I’d have to scroll using the cursor keys or the scroll bar on the right. This situation finally became untenable this morning though – I had two instances of Microsoft’s Visual Web Developer open and the machine seemed frustratingly slow to respond. A quick duke at Task Manager confirmed that this was because lots of memory was being used.

The Visual Web Developer program uses a lot of memory but I was surprised to find that Internet Explorer was actually using more at about 60MB. Firefox, also running at the time, was only using about 20MB so I decided it was time to fix the scrolling problem. I googled a bit and came across reports of people testifying that they solved the problem by downloading the newest drivers from Synaptics’ web site. This didn’t work for me though. Then I came across this forum post at Mozillazine which talked about changing a setting for the scroll buttons from “scroll selected item” to “scroll item beneath pointer”. Unfortunately this didn’t work for me either.

Here’s what did (after installing those new drivers):

  1. Double-click the touchpad icon in the system tray
  2. Ensure the correct device is selected in the Device Settings tab and click the Settings button
  3. Open the Buttons list and click ‘Scroll Up Button Action’
  4. Choose “Scroll the current window up” from the list.
  5. Click the ‘Scroll Down Button Action’ and choose ‘Scroll the current window down’ from the list.
  6. Apply/OK out.

Voila! Firefox now scrolls. I later discovered that someone else had replied to the above Mozillazine forum post advising just that, but I assure you I discovered it myself quite by accident.

Anyway, during the course of this fiddling I also discovered that you can use the right hand edge of your touch pad for scrolling. Just move your finger up or down the far right edge of your touch pad and the window scrolls. Unlike the scroll buttons, this did work in Firefox regardless of the above setting (though according to this KnowledgeBase entry, it may require the newest drivers), so if you’re having problems with Firefox scrolling with a Synaptics touchpad device, you should now have two solutions. Enjoy!