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).