How to Troubleshoot and Resolve an Erratic cursor on a Dell Notebook PC

How to Troubleshoot and Resolve an Erratic cursor on a Dell Notebook PC

This article provides information on how to resolve an issue with the cursor drifting or jumping and not being under control on a Dell Notebook PC.

Table of Contents:

  1. How to Troubleshoot and Resolve an Erratic Cursor on a Dell Notebook PC
  2. Troubleshooting the issue outside of the Operating System
  3. Troubleshooting a Software issue inside the Operating System
  4. Troubleshooting a Hardware issue inside the Operating System

1. How to Troubleshoot and Resolve an Erratic cursor on a Dell Notebook PC

While in use does your cursor behave erratically?

Does the cursor drift to one of the corners of the screen?

Does the cursor jump from place to place?

While your typing text does the text appear in different locations?

If so, please follow the guide below.

Note: This guide needs one of two scenarios to be true in order to be of use to you. The first is that you have an alternate input device. (Whether that be using the Keyboard shortcuts, an external mouse or touchscreen.) The second is that repeated attempts to carry out a step will eventually be successful. (As erratic isn't the same as constant.) If either or both of these is true, you will be able to carry out the instructions below.

Back to Top

2. Troubleshooting the issue outside of the Operating System

  1. The first thing to do is to see if the same issue occurs outside of the operating system. There are several ways you can do this.

    1. On any of our E-Series Latitude Systems, the BIOS is a Graphical User Interface (GUI) and the touchpad and an external mouse will operate there outside of the operating system and drivers influence. You can boot to the BIOS using the F2 key method. Does the issue continue in the BIOS? (Tap the F2 key at POST - before the system boots to Windows.)

    2. If you can boot to the 32 bit Diagnostics on any of our Notebook Systems, it is also a GUI and you can test if the issue continues there? this is either through the Fn key and Power during startup method or the F12 key method. (The 32 bit diags are in three locations. A partition on your Hard Drive, They are on your drivers CD that came with the machine and they are avialable online in your drives and downloads page.)

    3. If you have any boot repair media, you can boot to it using the F12 key boot method and test if the issue continues? (Select the appropriate media from the menu.)

    4. If you have any Linux or other operating systems boot media, you can see if the issue continues?

  2. Is the issue seen outside of the operating system?

    1. If not go to section 3 step 1.

    2. If so go to section 4 step 1.

Back to Top

3. Troubleshooting a Software issue inside the Operating System

  1. If the issue was not seen outside of the operating system then it is a software issue. You will want to reinstall the touchpad driver from the Dell Support Site. I would follow the guide below to get the correct driver for your particular system.

  2. If this does not resolve your issue we would have to rule out an operating system operating file issue at this point. This would mean either a two way swap of the Hard Drive or if a Swap isn't possible then by backing up the system and reinstalling it from either your Dell factory image or Dell reinstall media.

Note: A two way swap means you take the Hard Drive from your system and substitute it into an identical working system which isn't experiencing the fault and see if the fault follows the Hard Drive? You also substitute the Hard Drive from the working system into your system and see if the fault on your system stops?
  1. If the fault stays with the machine after this is done, proceed to section 4 step 1.

  2. If the fault follows the Hard drive from your system into the known good working substitute system, then a clean Operating system install will resolve your issue.

Back to Top

4. Troubleshoot a Hardware conflict inside the Operating System

An Erratic cursor issue is most commonly caused by a conflict with either the touchpad driver and the Operating system or by a conflict between the Keyboard, Palmrest and Input Controllers. There are a couple of steps required to narrow this down.

  1. In the operating system there is an icon in the System tray on your desktop. Right click on this icon and select Properties.

Touchpad Icon

(Fig.1 Touchpad Icon)

  1. It will bring up your touchpad properties in a small window. Select the Device Select tab across the top.

Legacy ALPS Propterties

(Fig.2 Legacy ALPS Properties)

Current ALPS Properties

(Fig.3 Current ALPS Properties)

  1. This next step will be repeated in several configurations to narrow down the cause of your issue. Click on the Radio button next to disable touchpad. Test the cursor using both an External USB mouse and the Pointing stick if your system has one in the middle of the Keyboard. Note down the Results.

  2. Re-enable the Touchpad and disable the Pointing Stick if you have one. Test the cursor and note down your results. (If you don't have a Pointing Stick on your System ignore any mention of it in the next step.)

  3. Disable both the Touchpad and the Pointing Stick. Test with the external Mouse and note down your results.

    1. If disabling the Touchpad resolves the issue then the issue is usually with the Palmrest.

    2. If disabling the Pointing Stick resolves the issue then the issue is most likely with the Keyboard.

    3. If you had to disable both the Touchpad and the Pointing Stick before the issue was resolved then the issue is probably with both the keyboard and the Palmrest.

    4. If disabling both hasn't resolved the issue and with an External mouse having the same issue, then it is probably going to be an issue with the Motherboard for the Input Controller.

    You can find a more in depth guide to disabling and enabling the touchpad on the link below.

  4. Alternatively if you have access to an identical machine and you find it too hard to control the cursor to go through this troubleshooting, you could substitute parts from one to the other to see where the fault follows. However I would recommend the first option as easier and less prone to accidental damage.

  5. As a last step to attempt to resolve the issue, if from section 4 step 5 you get situation i, ii or iii I would recommend reseating the Keyboard and checking if this has made any impact on the issue? If not carry on to the next step.

  6. If the system is in warranty please contact your Technical Support with the results to book a service call.

  7. If the system is out of warranty then at this point you can either contact your Technical Support for a quote on how much is would cost for a service call or you could source and fit the part yourself.

Note: You can get a teardown guide for your specific system if you go to the Dell Support Site and put in your Service Tag and go to your owners manual or go to the System Knowledge Base Resource Library Page for your particular System Type.

Back to Top

Article ID: SLN155343

Last Date Modified: 10/30/2017 05:32 AM

Rate this article

Easy to understand
Was this article helpful?
Yes No
Send us feedback
Comments cannot contain these special characters: <>()\
Sorry, our feedback system is currently down. Please try again later.

Thank you for your feedback.