Toggle touchpad on Ubuntu 16.04

ubuntu_logo_81x81Laptops with larger touchpad area pose a serious problem with typing. While we explored a way to reduce the effective touchpad area, sometimes turning off the touchpad is a better solution. The 14.04 way of setting synclient TouchpadOff to 0 or 1 doesn’t work on 16.04. So here’s a fresh technique with a little bit of scripting.

List all your input devices.

$ xinput
⎡ Virtual core pointer                       	id=2	[master pointer  (3)]
⎜   ↳ Virtual core XTEST pointer              	id=4	[slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ DELL Laser Mouse                        	id=10	[slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad              	id=12	[slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ Sony Vaio Jogdial                       	id=8	[slave  pointer  (2)]
⎣ Virtual core keyboard                      	id=3	[master keyboard (2)]
    ↳ Virtual core XTEST keyboard             	id=5	[slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Video Bus                               	id=6	[slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Sony Vaio Keys                          	id=7	[slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Power Button                            	id=9	[slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ AT Translated Set 2 keyboard            	id=11	[slave  keyboard (3)]

The device of our interest is SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad. Note down the device ID (12 in this case).

Check the current status of the device.

$ xinput -list-props 12 | grep "Device Enabled"
Device Enabled (139):	1

Now, modify the following script as per the IDs you see:

if xinput list-props 12 | grep "Device Enabled (139):.*1" >/dev/null
  xinput disable 12
  notify-send -u low -i mouse "Touchpad disabled"
  xinput enable 12
  notify-send -u low -i mouse "Touchpad enabled"

This script will take care of toggling the touchpad for you and notify the status. Copy it somewhere in your $PATH. You can assign a keyboard shortcut to the script and toggle the touchpad state anytime you want.

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