How to Use Windows 10 Gestures

Enable, use, and customize touchpad gestures to do more, faster

A woman using trackpad gestures on her Windows 10 laptop.

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Touchpad gestures are a convenient way to quickly perform tasks on Windows 10 laptops and computers using nothing but your fingers and a compatible touchpad.

Windows 10 touchpad gestures are incredibly versatile and can be used to switch between apps, open Windows Timeline, navigate web browsing history in Microsoft Edge, scroll content, and search with Cortana.

The touchpad can even replace the traditional computer mouse with gestures that can click words or objects with the cursor and mimic the right-click function.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10.

Popular Windows 10 Touchpad Gestures to Try

The touchpad on Windows 10 laptops and computers is capable of a surprising amount of functionality. Here are some of the more-useful gestures that could change the way you use Windows 10.

  • Mouse cursor: This is the most-basic Windows 10 gesture that allows you to use the touchpad as a computer mouse. Simply drag a single finger across the touchpad to move the cursor on screen and tap once to replicate a single mouse click. This can be very useful when traveling and when you don't have access to your mouse at an airport or cafe, for example.
  • Mouse double-click: Tap twice quickly to replicate a double-click with a mouse. This can be used in video games but also to highlight an entire word or paragraph on a web page or in a document.

If you're having trouble performing a double-click, you can adjust the mouse and trackpad speed settings.

  • Scroll vertically and horizontally: Place two fingers on the touchpad at the same time and drag them in the same direction up and down or left and right. This gesture can be used to scroll content on a website or in a document. It can also be used to scroll in apps and in the Windows 10 operating system such as in the app list and Start Menu.
  • Mouse right-click: Tapping once on the touchpad with two fingers will mimic right-clicking with a mouse. This works in numerous apps and elsewhere within the Windows 10 operating system. You'll mainly want to use this to bring up menus for additional functions or settings.
  • Open Windows Timeline and show open apps: Swiping up on the touchpad with three fingers will display all of the open Windows 10 apps alongside each other at the top of the screen and your Windows Timeline along the bottom.

Windows Timeline displays apps and web pages you've visited on your Windows 10 device in chronological order. Some Android and iOS smartphone and tablet apps also support this feature and will sync your usage of them to Windows Timeline.

  • Go to Desktop: Quickly drag three fingers towards you on the touchpad to minimize all apps and return to the Desktop.

While swiping up with three fingers usually shows all apps and opens Windows Timeline, doing so after swiping down with three fingers and going to Desktop will reverse the last gesture, leaving Desktop and returning you to the last app you had open.

  • Switch apps: Swipe left or right with three fingers to switch between open apps.
  • Open Action Center: Tap once with four fingers.
  • Open Cortana: Tap once with three fingers to open the Windows 10 digital assistant.

In regions where Cortana isn't fully optimized, this gesture will work the same as the four-finger tap which opens Action Center.

How to Zoom in and out on Windows 10

One of the more convenient touchpad gestures in Windows 10 is the two-finger zoom gesture. All you need to do is place two fingers onto the trackpad at the same time and then spread them apart or pinch them together to zoom in and out respectively.

The zoom gesture works in most major apps and web browsers.

Microsoft Edge Gestures Worth Trying

Edge is Microsoft's first-party internet browser that replaced Internet Explorer. It's also the default browser on most new Windows 10 computers, laptops, and tablets and supports several touchpad gestures that add extra functionality to the web browsing experience.

Here are some touchpad gestures worth trying when using Microsoft Edge.

  • Back and forward: After browsing several web pages, swipe two fingers right to go back to the last website you visited. To move forward in your browsing history, and to get back to the most recent web page you were reading, swipe two fingers left.
  • Zoom: Move two fingers closer together or further apart to zoom in on web page content.
  • Right-click: Tap once with two fingers to bring up the right-click menu for saving images and copying links.
  • Scroll: Slide two fingers up and down to scroll web content as you would with a mouse wheel or by using the traditional scrollbar on the right side of web pages.

Two-Finger Scroll Not Working?

There are two main reasons why the two-finger scrolling gesture may not be working properly.

  • Your fingers are moving apart. When doing this gesture, your fingers need to stay the same distance apart from each other for the entire two-finger slide. If they move further apart or closer together, Windows 10 will detect the zoom gesture instead.
  • A driver update is required.

How to Customize Windows 10 Gestures Settings

Customize the sensitivity level of Windows 10 touchpad gestures.

  1. Go to Settings in the Start menu.

    To open Settings, tap on the touchpad once with four fingers and click All Settings from the Action Center.

    Screenshot of Settings in the Start menu
  2. Select Devices in Windows Settings.

    Screenshot of Devices in Windows Settings
  3. Select Touchpad in the left pane.

    Screenshot of Touchpad in Devices
  4. Choose a level in the Touchpad Sensitivity drop-down menu.

    Screenshot of Touchpad settings