Windows 8 touchpad design recommendations

Updated: October 12, 2012

The Windows 8 touchpad design recommendations promote simple and consistent gestures across Windows PCs.

This information applies to the following operating system:

  • Windows 8

Touchpads of all sizes should support the basic touchpad gestures of “point and click” pointer functionality and the smooth and precise two-finger slide gesture for horizontal and vertical panning of Windows Store apps.

Single-finger slideSingle-/two-finger tap, double tapTwo-finger slide

Single-finger slide

Single-/two-finger tap, double tap

Two-finger slide

Mouse cursor manipulationPrimary secondary button click, double-click at cursor locationHorizontal or vertical scroll (mouse wheel)


Touchpads that have sensor sizes larger than 90mm (w) x 55mm (h) should also support pinch zoom and swipe gestures from three touchpad edges for optimum productivity and the best intuitive Windows 8 navigations.

Two-finger pinchSwipe in from the right edgeSwipe down from the top edgeSwipe in from the left edge

Two-finger pinch

Swipe in from the right edge

Swipe down from the top edge

Swipe in from the left edge

Zoom (Ctrl+ mouse wheel) Toggle the charm (Windows logo key+C)Toggle the app commands (Windows logo key+Z)Switch to last app (Windows logo key + Ctrl + Backspace)


All other nonstandard gestures are recommended to be turned off by default as complex gestures can be misinterpreted or interfere with basic operations. Advanced users can always enable or change advanced settings at a later time through additional settings offered by the OEM or IHV.

Touchpad gestures across sensor surface size

It is critical that the surface area provide sufficient space so that the user can comfortably control touchpad gestures, including panning, zooming, and swiping gestures. Larger touchpad sensors also reduce accidental activations caused by swiping in from the edges.

To help users to identify edges without shifting their focus from the screen, a texture or other tactile design should differentiate the boundary or the surface of touchpad sensor area.

Touchpad sensor surface sizeRecommendations
Smaller than 90mm (w) x 55mm (h)

Support three basic touchpad gestures:

  • Single-finger slide for mouse cursor manipulation
  • Single-/two-finger tap, double tap for primary and secondary mouse button actions
  • Two-finger slide for horizontal and vertical scrolling

Larger than 90mm (w) x 55mm (h)*

*For an optimum experience, a 105mm (w) x 65mm (h) or larger sensor surface is recommended.

Support all touchpad gestures:

  • Single-finger slide for mouse cursor manipulation
  • Single-/two-finger tap, double tap for primary and secondary mouse button actions
  • Two-finger slide for horizontal and vertical scrolling
  • Two-finger pinch for zooming
  • Swipe from the right, top and left edges of the touchpad for three common Windows 8 actions


Tap gestures for mouse button functions

All touchpads should support primary and secondary mouse button functions. Devices may support one or more of the following mouse button functions:

  • Physical button(s)
  • Tap and double-tap gesture for primary button actions
  • Two-finger tap for secondary button actions

The tap gesture is a series of brief touch down and up actions occurring within a certain radius and time period. The optimal radius and time period can differ depending on the sensor type and form factor. Ensure the mouse curser does not move from the previous location before the tap or double-tap.

A two-finger tap is a brief touch down and up action with two fingers. The gesture is useful when the touchpad does not have dedicated buttons outside of touchpad sensor area.

Two-finger slide and pinch gestures for high-resolution mouse wheel

All Windows 8 touchpads should implement a high-resolution mouse wheel to provide a smooth and natural touchpad experience.

A two-finger slide gesture simulates a high-resolution mouse wheel operating in either the horizontal or vertical direction. Windows 8 touchpads larger than 90mm (w) x 55mm (h) should support also a two-finger pinch gesture that simulates a high- resolution mouse wheel (vertical) with the Control key held down.

The direction of a two-finger slide or pinch should match with the direction the content is moving or scaling. Traditionally, the scroll wheel direction would be the reverse of the two-finger gesture direction. The response time to two-finger slide and pinch gestures should be instantaneous so that users feel that a Windows 8 touchpad is always smooth and responsive. We recommend a synchronized scrolling direction to encourage users to keep the focus on the content and keep the consistency with direct touch experience on screen. For users’ preference, touchpad manufactures should offer a device option to reverse settings.

For more details, see Two-finger slide gesture (pan), Two-finger pinch gesture (zoom), and High-resolution mouse wheel.

Swipe in from the edges

A Windows 8 touchpad larger than 90mm (w) x 55mm (h) should support single-finger swipe in from the edges. The optimal Windows 8 touchpad design offers a quick and familiar access to the most common actions through the Windows 8 charms, app commands, and app switching.

  • Swipe in from the right edge: Windows logo key + C (VK_C)
  • Swipe down from the top edge: Windows logo key + Z (VK_Z)
  • Swipe in from the left edge: Windows logo key + Ctrl + Backspace
  • Swipe up from the bottom edge: Windows logo key +Z (VK_Z) (Optional)

The swipe up from bottom edge can also be supported, as long as the gesture does not conflict with the placement of physical buttons. If touchpads integrate the swipe gestures to the device firmware, use alternative keyboard shortcuts as listed in the next table to avoid conflicts with international keyboard layouts.

Keyboard shortcutsAlternative keyboard shortcuts
Windows logo key + C (VK_C)Windows logo key + Alt + F23
Windows logo key + Z (VK_Z)Windows logo key + Ctrl + F23


The keyboard shortcuts for right and left edges should be reversed when desktop mirroring is detected for RTL languages. For more details, see Swipe gestures and Edge detection algorithm for Windows 8 touchpads.

Mouse cursor icon

The Windows 8 touchpad design recommendation promotes more natural and intuitive gestures, so that users can focus more on the contents rather than its surroundings. To align with the design philosophy, touchpad drivers should not alter the mouse cursor icon while touchpad gestures are recognized. The direct UI feedback from the document, content or Windows UI will indicate the actions made by the users.

Touchpad settings

For consistency and an optimal Windows 8 experience, the configuration should be the same across all Windows 8 touchpads. If the third-party drivers offer user options, Microsoft recommends the default settings that are summarized in the following table.

OptionsRecommended defaultDescription
TouchpadON Turn ON/OFF the entire touchpad device functionality.
Tap gestures ON Turn ON/OFF tap, double tap, or two-finger tap gestures.
Pan gesture ON Turn ON/OFF two finger-slide gesture.
Pan direction Synchronized An option for the panning direction by two-finger slide gesture.

Note  By default, two-finger slide direction should match (synchronized) with the direction that the content is moving. Some users may feel this is a reverse of traditional scroll wheel on a conventional mouse device.

Zoom gesture* ON Turn ON/OFF two finger-pinch gesture.
Swipe from the edges** ON Turn ON/OFF swipe gestures from the touchpad edges.
Other nonstandard touchpad gestures*** OFF Turn ON/OFF other gestures not included in this design recommendation. This could be multiple options.


The options for zoom(*) and swipe from the edges(**) are optional for Windows 8 touchpads with sensor surfaces smaller than 90mm (w) x 55mm (h). Turn off these advanced gestures if the touchpad is smaller than the minimum size.

All other nonstandard gestures (***) are recommended to be turned off by default because complex gestures can be misinterpreted or interfere with basic operations. Advanced users can enable or change advanced settings.

If extensibility for Windows 8 Control Panel is desired, follow the guidelines described in Implementing Control Panel Items. For Windows RT, specific guidelines are available for touchpad configurations by OEMs and the touchpad manufacturers.

Related topics

Design recommendations for Windows 8 touchpads



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