We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is TrackPoint?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

TrackPoint™ is IBM®’s pointing stick, a device embedded in the keyboard of some laptops that allows for cursor movement. The TrackPoint looks like the tip of a red eraser and sits between the G and H keys on a QWERTY keyboard, dead center of the home row. Touch typists use the home row to rest their fingers, making the pointing stick the only pointing device typists can use to move the cursor without taking their fingers off the keyboard.

The TrackPoint with its replaceable rubber cap is manipulated with the tip of the index finger. The pointing stick is essentially designed as a miniaturized joystick. Applied pressure in any direction pushes the cursor in the same direction. The more force applied to the device, the faster the cursor’s velocity. Left and right mouse buttons are located just below the spacebar on models equipped with a TrackPoint.

Laptops that come with a pointing stick might also have a touchpad built into the wrist rest below the keyboard. A touchpad is a small, sensitized pad that manipulates cursor movement by finger swipes across its surface. An additional advantage of a pointing stick over a touchpad is that the cursor can be moved endlessly in any direction without repositioning the finger.

TrackPoint configuration is important since the device is located in the middle of the keyboard. If sensitivity is set too low, it will take too much pressure to move the cursor, which could lead to index stress and fatigue syndromes with repetitive use. If sensitivity is set too high, accidental swipes of the TrackPoint while typing could move the cursor unintentionally.

A common problem with pointing sticks is cursor drift. This occurs when the cursor has been intentionally moved but continues to change position after you’ve stopped applying pressure to the pointing stick. Some software will perform automatic calibration when it senses drift is occurring. The user must momentarily remove his or her finger from the pointing stick to allow for calibration to take place. In other cases manual calibration is necessary.

An optional feature that can be enabled in the configuration software of many pointing sticks is the ability to tap the stick to emulate a click. Since accidental taps can easily occur while typing, many people choose to leave this feature disabled and take advantage of the left and right mouse buttons below the spacebar by using the thumbs.

The TrackPoint was the first pointing stick invented, a device conceptualized in 1984 by Ted Selker who then worked as a researcher and developer. Selker was inspired by his interest in eliminating the delay created by having to take the hands off the keyboard to use a pointing device. In 1987 Selker was working for IBM and realized his invention in the form of the TrackPoint. Today there are no less than ten different names for the pointing stick, each brand developed by a competing manufacturer.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.