I have an IBM ThinkPad T40 for work and I also use a Microsoft IntelliMouse Optical for those occasions where an external mouse is desirable. Several features on both have annoyed me for a while – particularly the forward and back buttons on the ThinkPad keyboard (either side of the up-cursor key), and the forward and back buttons on the mouse.
Why do these features annoy me ? Well, when you spend so much time online using blogs and forums and other web based tools, you discover something – accidently causing your browser to go “back” a page usually causes you to lose everything you had been typing at the time.
When posting on a forum in a web browser interface, sometimes I spend quite a lot of time writing a post, only to lose everything when I accidently hit the “back” key on the ThinkPad keyboard while moving the cursor around, or similarly accidently brushing the “back” button on my mouse – both with disatrous results – I lose everything I had been typing. Sometimes I remember to do my editing in Notepad and then paste the results into the browser window once done, but often I’m not writing something long enough to think of doing that – but it’s still long enough to be really annoyed if I do lose it.
I have been hunting for a way to disable these keys for ages, with not much luck. Finally, I have been able to solve both issues – but not without some challenges.
The ThinkPad has some software that allows you to assign functions to certain keys – the “Keyboard Customizer Utility”. As shipped, the version of this utility would not allow you to reassign or disable the keys. However, recent updates do allow you to disable them. Download the updates from the IBM PC Support site and install them. The trick is that the option to disable them is actually on the “Key Sensitivity” page – there is a check box to “Enable Browser Keys” – clear it to disable them.
The IntelliMouse Optical works out of the box with the ThinkPad – just plug it in and away you go. However, the default mouse control software for the ThinkPad does not allow you control the actions of the forward and back buttons on the side of the mouse. So, you can download the latest version of IntelliPoint mouse control software from Microsoft, but when you try and install that, it warns you that it must uninstall the ThinkPad UltraNav drivers first !!
Naturally this is a concern, given that without the UltraNav software, neither your TrackPoint, nor your TouchPad will work !!
After some research on the web, I discovered that it is quite okay to allow IntelliPoint to uninstall your UltraNav drivers first; once IntelliPoint is installed, you can then go back an re-install the UltraNav drivers and both will work. Yay. I was able to successfully disable the forward and back buttons on the side of my mouse. Yay.
However, I was disappointed to find that all of a sudden my Mozilla browser was not behaving as expected. Normally, I would use the mouse wheel button as a third (or middle) mouse button – you activate it by pushing down on the scroll wheel instead of scrolling it – to open a link in a new tab in Mozilla. IntelliPoint seemed to remap this button to something other than the middle mouse button !! Aarrggghh.
After some more research and experimentation, I discovered that by setting the wheel button to “autoscroll” in IntelliPoint, it went back to its expected behaviour – wheel clicking on a link in Mozilla opened it in a new tab, while wheel clicking elsewhere not on a link turned on the auto-scroll feature.
So, I am happy, all browser buttons / keys disabled, and mouse and TrackPoint working as expected (I disable the TouchPad since I don’t like using it).
Brilliant, you solved the problem I was looking to solve (autoscroll) and you solved another one (browse buttons) I’d never even dared think of looking for a solution for. Thank you very much!
You answered all my questions in just one post.
I had exactly the same problems since I have a T42P with Ultranav and I just bought a microsoft wireless with intellipoint 5.0 : same conflict of drivers ;)
Thanks a heap for that post. I was having driver concerns, and now I dont.
hah! helped me too. yay for blogs.
Thanks very much for the answer here.
I DESPISE the forward and back buttons for exactly the reasons you describe. I’ve retyped so many forms it hurts to think about.
I’m using a Microsoft Wireless mouse and was having the exact same problem with the Mozilla > Open new tab functionality:
“I was disappointed to find that all of a sudden my Mozilla browser was not behaving as expected. Normally, I would use the mouse wheel button as a third (or middle) mouse button – you activate it by pushing down on the scroll wheel instead of scrolling it – to open a link in a new tab in Mozilla. IntelliPoint seemed to remap this button to something other than the middle mouse button !! Aarrggghh.”
Choosing auto scroll for the wheel button made the trick. Thank you sooo much for this info!
T40p owner says
Thanks for searching. I haven’t found any specific answers, but for now, I decided to use the right button on the trackpad to be middle click since I don’t use the trackpad for anything else.
its not very convenient (perhaps even less convenient than ctrl-click) but at least it only requires one hand.
I don’t know how to do this, but I agree that it would be a useful feature. I’ve done a bit of searching but can’t find out how to make it work. I’ll keep looking and let you know if I find a solution.
T40p owner says
Do you know of a way to make the trackpoint open up a new tab like the middle button on the mouse?
Deep in the config, under Press-to-Select, you can make the pointer have click capabilities but I only see the choices “Left Click” and “Right Click”. Clicking the middle scroll button three times brings up a help screen, but I can’t find a way to change that action.