How to Activate Two-Finger Scrolling in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

If you have been using MacBook for a long time, your fingers might be accustomed to the very helpful two-finger scrolling facility. Luckily, you can use the same feature through Ubuntu on your other laptops as well, especially when your touchpad is manufactured by Synaptics.

The Two-Finger Scrolling Feature

For those who are not familiar with this feature, your touchpad works the same for tapping and dragging with this feature enabled. However, when you drag your two fingers up and down the touchpad, it will work in the same way as the middle wheel of your mouse. This feature helps you in scrolling through lengthy web pages, documents, and about anywhere where there is an option for scrolling. Just be careful that your fingers have some space in between, otherwise the touchpad will think of your fingers as one big finger and the feature will obviously not work.

While this two-finger scrolling works fine for some, a few of you might find it a real nuisance as it might mess up with your current view if you accidentally touch and swipe the touchpad with two or more fingers. Keeping the personal preferences of all users in mind, Ubuntu has kept this option customizable. You can enable/disable this feature both through the graphical user interface and through the Ubuntu command line.

In this article, we will explain how to enable/disable two-finger touchpad scrolling for your Ubuntu system. We have run the commands and procedures mentioned in this article on a Ubuntu 18.04 LTS system.

Enable/Disable Two-Finger Scrolling through the Command Line

For a Terminal savvy person, we have a command line based approach for enabling/disabling two-finger scrolling on your Touchpad.

Open your Terminal application either through the system Dash or the Ctrl+Alt+T shortcut.

For Ubuntu 18.04, you might first need to remove the libinput Touchpad driver, if your system is running it. Run the following command as sudo in order to remove the mentioned driver:

$ sudo apt-get remove xserver-xorg-input-libinput libinput-tools

remove the libinput Touchpad driver

Please note that only an authorized user can add, remove and configure software on Ubuntu.

Then install the synaptics driver for Touchpad, that will let you make numerous configurations on it. Run the following command to install the new driver:

$ sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-input-all xserver-xorg-input-evdev xserver-xorg-input-synaptics

Install Synaptics driver

The system might prompt you with a Y/n confirmation option in order to continue installation. Please enter Y to continue, after which the new driver will be installed on your system.

You might then need to restart your system for the new driver to be configured.

In order to view what all you can do with the synclient tool after you have installed the new driver, enter the following command:

$ synclient

Run synclient tool

You will also be able to spot the VertTwoFingerScroll variable in the list. This is the one we will be configuring in order to enable/disable touchpad two finger scrolling.

The value 0 indicates that two finger scrolling is currently disabled on your system. If you want to enable two-finger scrolling, you can do so by running the following synclient command:

$ synclient VertTwoFingerScroll=1

Enable two-finger scrolling

Or, run the following command in order to disable it:

$ synclient VertTwoFingerScroll=0

As soon as you do it, your new settings with take effect immediately.

You can now close the Terminal by using the exit command:

$ exit

Enable/Disable Two Finger Scrolling through the UI

If you prefer using the GUI for performing simple administrative tasks, you can make of the graphical Settings utility.

You can access the Settings either through the system Dash or by accessing it as follows:

Click on the downward arrow located at the top-right corner of your Ubuntu desktop and then click the settings icon from the following view:

User settings

The Settings utility opens in the Wi-Fi tab by default. You need to click on the Devices tab, and then the Mouse & Touchpad in order to make the required configurations.

This is how the Mouse & Touchpad view looks like:

Mouse & Touchpad view

Alternatively, you can directly launch this view by entering relevant mouse and touchpad keywords in the Ubuntu Dash search, as follows:

Mouse and Touchpad

In the Mouse & Touchpad settings view, try to locate the Two-finger Scrolling button under the Touchpad section. By default, this button is switched on in my Ubuntu 18.04 which means that the two finger Scrolling is enabled on my touchpad. Simply turn the button off in order to disable two-finger scrolling or turn it on in order to enable it. As soon as you do it, your new settings with take effect immediately.

You can now close the Settings utility.

Whether you prefer using your touchpad for two-finger scrolling or think that it is just a nuisance, you can enable or disable it easily by following either of the two ways we have described in this article.