What is a More Effective Pointing Device: Touchpad vs. Mouse?

Woojin Go
Published in
7 min readMay 14, 2022
Photo by Tran Mau Tri Tam on Unsplash


Today, with the advent of various devices, computers have naturally taken place in our lives. Perhaps your smartphone or tablet reading this article is also a kind of computer. When we use a computer, maybe the most important thing is the pointing device. The reason may be that it is important to use an appropriate pointing device to select and drag what we want.

There are many types of pointing devices that people frequently use, but when grouped into a large category, they are eventually divided into the trackpad and mouse. In this post, I would like to share the characteristics of the different pointing devices, a mouse and a trackpad, and closely compare their pros and cons. I hope this post will allow you to find out which pointing device is right for you.

1. Trackpad: If you want a variety of functions and gestures as well as easy to use

Photo by John Smit on Unsplash

The first thing to deal with is the trackpad. A trackpad is a type of pointing device you’re probably very familiar with if you’re using a laptop. Because when you open your laptop, you have a large trackpad in front of you. People who only use a mouse will never understand why people use a pointing device with such an inconvenient architecture. Ironically, people who like to use a trackpad can’t be accustomed to using a mouse. Why there are users who have such different preferences?

First of all, the most significant advantages of the trackpad are as follows.

  • Support various gesture functions
  • Smooth scrolling experiences
  • The high degree of freedom for up, down, left, and right scrolling

We know that the mouse never supports the gesture function. The trackpad is also effective for moving to another operation among various tasks such as task switching. In addition, if you use a trackpad, you can feel the smoothness that is far different from scrolling with a mouse while surfing the Internet. Then, what are the cons of using a trackpad? The trackpad shows excellent efficiency in some tasks, but in other things, it is relatively difficult and inconvenient to use the trackpad compared to the mouse.

Here are some things that are difficult to work with with a trackpad.

  • Objects dragging and quick clicks
  • High wrist fatigue when you are doing some time-consuming tasks
  • Inaccurate aiming compared to mouse

The trackpad is easy to use, and although there are various gestures, it is more difficult to use than a mouse, and the user’s fatigue is relatively high. The reason is that the response speed of the trackpad is significantly slower than that of the mouse for quick click and drag operations. If you are working on MIDI or design work, this fatigue will increase even more. However, for a typical user experience, using a trackpad is still satisfying and useful.

2. Mouse: For fast pointing experience and frequent dragging operations

Photo by Pascal M. on Unsplash

The mouse is perhaps the most universal pointing device for computer users. Because every computer we know has a mouse attached to it, and without a mouse, we would never be able to use the Graphic User Interface (GUI) we use.

People who have a knack for computer languages and are familiar with DOS and Linux commands may not see any reason to use a mouse. However, for most people, a computer is a system driven by a GUI, so without a mouse or a pointing device, you will not be able to use the purchased computer at all.

Although trackpads and mice are famous pointing devices that coexist in modern society, their roles and uses are completely different. People who are uncomfortable using the trackpad and feel very tired from using it should try using a mouse. Unlike a trackpad, a mouse pushes a button with a ‘click’ rather than a ‘tap’. This makes it much less tiring to use than a trackpad that requires you to lift your wrist every time you need to press the cursor. If you are a person who works for a long time, it is better to use a mouse. Compared to a trackpad that requires you to hold your wrist every time, a mouse doesn’t require you to constantly apply pressure to your wrist.

The mouse is also useful for dragging. This is because, unlike the trackpad that holds after tapping, the mouse that holds after clicking is much more convenient for dragging. Another advantage of the mouse is that it can aim objects quickly. The ability to point and click on objects quickly as opposed to a trackpad clearly shows that the mouse is a pointing device that can be used with greater agility than a trackpad. The rationale for this can be simply represented: among the pro gamers who play FPS shooting games, have you ever seen people playing with a trackpad?

3. Which product is good to buy?

Mouse and trackpad. Have you decided what kind of pointing device to use? Since these devices are related to ergonomics, it is good in the long run to buy good equipment, even if it costs a little more. This is because you have to avoid double-spending by trying to buy something cheap for nothing. Here are a few products that I think are good to buy. I hope that these lists will be of great help in purchasing your device.

Trackpad I: Apple Magic Trackpad 2 (124$)

LINK: https://amzn.to/3LdQunA

If you’re a Mac or iPad user, the pad can be a great accessory for a great user experience. You will be able to experience various gestures supported by Apple products through the corresponding trackpad.

Trackpad II: Brydge W-Touch Wireless Precision Touchpad (100$)

LINK: https://amzn.to/3sx5qa0

This is a good trackpad for non-Mac users to use. Since it can be charged with a USB-C cable, it can also be charged with a laptop or mobile phone charger. The battery life is also known to be durable.

Trackpad III: Keymecher Mano Multi-Gesture Wired Trackpad (33$)

LINK: https://amzn.to/3N5f4IG

This is a useful trackpad for users who are using Windows OS. Compared to the two trackpads above, this product is very cheap at $30. However, be aware that the trackpad experience may not be as good as the above two products. If you want to try a trackpad at a reasonable price, why not buy this one?

Mouse I: Logitech G PRO X SUPERLIGHT (135$)

LINK: https://amzn.to/3l82NqS

Logitech’s superlight series is extremely light in weight and very responsive. There is no problem at all when using this product for users to work for a long time.

Mouse II: Logitech MX Master 3 (100$)

LINK: https://amzn.to/3Mgfyvz

Logitech’s MX master is also one of the most popular mice. In particular, in the case of this mouse, the advantage is that it can be used as a custom wheel as there is one more wheel on the side.

Mouse III: Razor DeathAdder V2 Gaming Mouse (40$)

LINK: https://amzn.to/3szItmk

Razor’s DeathAdder is a mouse that shows off Razor’s unique design and sensibility. As the original purpose of the product is gaming, it provides a high response speed and smooth experiences.

4. If you have trouble making a choice

Image source: https://www.reddit.com/r/MacOS/comments/hv51kr/how_do_people_use_a_mouse_and_trackpad_at_the/

If you’re still thinking about which mouse or trackpad to get, try the hybrid approach. The hybrid method refers to working with the trackpad on the left and the mouse on the right side of the keyboard. By using this way, you can use both a trackpad and a mouse, taking advantage of each pointing device’s strengths. The big downside of this method is that you have to spend quite a bit on the pointing device. You’ll need to purchase both a trackpad and a mouse to use this method, so if you’re still interested, why not give it a try?

5. About other pointing devices

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trackball

There are many pointing devices in the world. Besides mice and trackpads, there are, of course, countless other pointing devices. In this post, I have only described the mouse and trackpad, which are the most commonly encountered pointing devices. If you are a frequent tablet computer user, your finger could be a pointing device. If you often scan and view enlarged photos, a device called a trackball can be a great pointing device for you. Not many people use it now, but if you use a device like a PDA, a stylus pen could be your pointing device. I would like to describe these pointing devices when I have time, but in this post, I compared and described the mouse and trackpad.

6. Conclusions

Of course, there is no right answer. However, I hope that this post has been of great help to you in purchasing a great pointing device. I use both a mouse and a trackpad. This is because each pointing device has different efficiency, advantages, and disadvantages. Currently, on my desk, a trackpad is placed on the left, and the mouse is placed on the right. I also apply a hybrid method by using a laptop trackpad and a mouse connected at the same time. I hope that all of you who read this article will also think about how to effectively apply your own pointing device to your work.

Thank you for reading this post, and hope you have a nice day:)





Woojin Go

Ph.D. | Seoul National University (SNU) | Focused on innovations and sustainable solutions