There exists already a third party driver for BootCamp to improve upon the terrible drivers for the trackpad in Windows provided by Apple. It’s called Trackpad++ and attempts to provide some of the key trackpad actions that Mac users have come not to be able to live without.
But, to be honest, it’s not the solution I was looking for. The accelerated scrolling does not feel anywhere as natural as on a Mac (or even my Chromebook for that matter) and many of the better shortcuts are still absent. There are some settings available in Trackpad++ but they’re too simplistic and don’t allow the level of control I feel that I need. To top it off, the free version must be reinstalled every week (a passive-aggressive technique to encourage you to pay) and I can’t bring myself to actually pay for software that doesn’t actually solve the problem I’m trying to solve. Which is a shame really.
Trackpad++ is the only software out there that attempts to completely re-write the driver, but are there any other ways of getting the trackpad’s functionality back? I’ve been investigating using AutoHotKey to simply use Apple’s driver in Windows more effectively. Two features that I miss are accessing middle-click with the trackpad – something I addressed in this post – and the other is accelerated scrolling. This is where, if you scroll quickly, the speed of scrolling also increases, making it easier to navigate long pages without having to use the scroll bar. Done right, as on OSX and ChromeOS, it feels very natural and you don’t even realise that the scroll is accelerated. Get used to this and move back to Windows with its non-accelerated scrolling, and it feels like you’re browsing the web through treacle. This is very annoying!
With my perceived failure of Trackpad++ in solving this problem, my search has yielded an alternative, using AutoHotKey.
Download the ZIP file and extract it. There is an EXE if you don’t have AutoHotKey installed – it’s as easy as running this EXE to get accelerated scrolling. There is also the AHK source file that you can run with AHK – this is the version I recommend if you want to tweak the code.
Thoughts? It still doesn’t feel amazing – the acceleration seems to kick in unpredictably, like only a small difference in scrolling speed will take you between half a page down, and to the bottom of the page. If using BootCamp, I recommend going into the mouse settings in the control panel, and setting the scroll wheel to scroll 1 line per notch, otherwise it feels far to fast. It also lacks the ‘momentum’ on ChromeOS/OSX (where the page keeps moving and gradually slows down when you have stopped scrolling).
But the fact that it is an AHK file means that I can play with it and improve it. Out the box, it is already quite acceptable, and I’m looking forward to finding the time to make it work even better. Added to the fact that AHK is in principle much safer than allowing someone’s third party drivers to worm its way into the core of your fragile Windows system, this is definitely the path I would sooner recommend.