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How to disable the pinch-zoom gesture on Windows laptops

Multitouch gestures can be a blessing and a curse. Two-finger scrolling and manipulating images with your fingertips is all well and good, but wild zooming when you least expect it is not. Locating and unchecking a single setting in your laptop's mouse properties can calm down an overzealous touch pad.

Photo by Matt Elliott/CNET

I may have saved my mother's sanity with this tip. She was enjoying her new Dell laptop except for the fact that it would suddenly zoom in and out when she was browsing the Web or using Outlook, sometimes deleting a half-penned e-mail in the process. (Not helping matters was the fact that my dad was not experiencing such mousing behaviors.) During my last visit, I discovered the problem: pinch zoom.

One of the many multitouch gestures on today's laptops is the ability to pinch two fingers to zoom in and out in a window. When viewing images or a map, such zooming is a convenient way to get a closer look. It can be maddening, however, when you are simply trying to navigate the Web or fire off an e-mail.

When I'm not blogging, I can often be found reviewing laptops, and I have tested a number of laptops where the pinch zoom setting was more annoyance than convenience. By my unscientific count, Synaptics is the most popular touch-pad driver. I have also recently tested a new Dell ultrabook that uses a touch-pad driver from Cypress. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to disable the zoom gesture using each.

First up, Synaptics.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

From the Start menu, search for "mouse" and then click Mouse from the top of the search results. This opens the Mouse Properites window.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Next, click the right-most tab, labeled Device Settings, and click the Settings button.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Next, from the left-hand column, click Pinch Zoom and uncheck the box on the right labeled Enable Pinch Zoom.

Click OK to save your preference.

For laptops with the Cypress touchpad driver, search for "mouse" from the Start menu and open the Mouse Properties window as before.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Next, click the Cypress TrackPad tab and click the link, "Click to Change Cypress TrackPad Settings."

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Then click on the 2-Finger Gestures tab and uncheck the box labeled Zoom In/Out.

Click OK to save your preference and enjoy zoom-free computing.