Solved: Lenovo, the Clickpad/Ultranav and the missing hardware-buttons (W540 / T540 / W541)

In several models like W540/T540 etc. Lenovo has replaced the hardware-buttons for the Trackpoint with a big Touchpad. It looks like this:

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I own a W540 and as a hardcore-Trackpoint-user it’s really a pain not to have the hardware-buttons. 50% of your left-clicks are a middle-click by accident. This happens because you only have that single big Button. Also you need to move your thumb very far to the left/right to do a left/right-click. I often create Powerpoint-Presentations for my talks in the train as I travel quite a lot. When I want to select items in my presentation, those items are suddenly moved by accident as the “big button” thinks I’m using the Touchpad, but I’m using the Trackpoint. I solved that last issue by disabling the Touchpad in the Bios. But still all the other problems are here, that big single button is so annoying and – not mentioned yet – it’s also very noisy.

In the newer W541-model, Lenovo brought the hardware-buttons back. And the model looks completely the same as the W540. But for sure I don’t want to buy a new machine just to get the buttons back. So I contacted Lenovo if they support that part for the older machines. But I never got a response: Twitter @Lenovo, Lenovo forums (see this thread: https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/W-Series-ThinkPad-Laptops/Replace-W540-Keyboard-with-W541-Trackpoint-Buttons/td-p/1826433) etc. No answer. Not even a “We don’t know” or “Sorry, we can’t answer this yet”. Just nothing. Ignored.

So I was deeply disappointed with Lenovo. I used a T43, a T61, a T520 and a W540. And before the W540 I never used a mouse. But with the W540 it’s impossible without a mouse. The Trackpad is just crap if you use it with the Trackpoint.

Some weeks ago on Ebay and on other sides the new W541-Trackpad appeared, for around 70$. I decided to order that one and to try it in my W540. I ordered the one in the picture below from here: http://www.aliexpress.com/item-img/TOUCHPAD-FOR-THINKPAD-T440P-T440S-T440-T431S-T450P-T450S-W540-L440-L540-Touchpad-Clickpad-With-Left/32286821621.html#

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It took around two weeks and today I got it. And I successfully use it. Let me explain the steps to put it into a W540.

1/4 Remove the Keyboard, the Keyboard bezel and add the new Touchpad

First you need to remove the keyboard and the keyboard bezel. The “hardware maintenance manual” shows you how to do this. You can download it for the W540/T540 here: http://download.lenovo.com/ibmdl/pub/pc/pccbbs/mobiles_pdf/t540p_w540_w541_hmm_en_sp40a26003_02.pdf

The part of your keyboard below the keys can be moved up, then you find different screws to unwind, six in total. Here you see two of them:

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After unwinding all the screws, you can remove your keyboard. Be careful, as there are two cables connected. You just need to rotate the keyboard towards yourself, then disconnect the cables by lifting up the small black connectors. (I recommend using a small plastic-knife for this).

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Now after the keyboard is removed, you need to remove the keyboard bezel. First you need to disconnect the cable for the power-button. You find a detailed description how to do this in Lenovos hardware maintenance manual. In the next step you remove 7 screws from the backside of your notebook:

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Then turn it around again and lift up the keyboard bezel. Be careful again, as the Touchpad is still connected with two cables. Like for the keyboard, you just need to rotate the keyboard bezel towards you. I had Mickey Mouse with me, giving me some advice. ;-)

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You don’t have to disconnect the cables of the keyboard bezel from your notebook. Instead unwind 5 screws (red arrows) for the Touchpad and disconnect the single cable (green arrow).

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To disconnect the cable from the Touchpad you need to lift up the small black part – like for the other cables. Now you can remove the Single-Button-Annoying-Nerve-Costing-Touchpad. Here the old and the new side by side.

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Now place the new Touchpad with the hardware-trackpoint-buttons in the keyboard bezel. Note that the new Touchpad just needs four instead of 5 screws. Don’t forget to connect the cable as well.

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Now go all the steps backwards again. Put keyboard bezel back on your notebook. Connect the cable for the power-button. Add all the screws to the back of your notebook and mount the keyboard back again. Done! This looks (and is) like paradise on earth for Trackpoint users

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2/4 Install the driver

Now your hardware is mounted. The next step is to uninstall the drivers for the Synaptics Ultranav from your machine. After a restart install the driver n10gx25w. That one works fine for me on Windows 8.1. I tried some other drivers that didn’t work – for example the one for the W541 notebook. After the driver-installation you need to restart again and now you can use the hardware-buttons.

3/4 Adjust the settings

Everything worked fine on my machine from the beginning – except scrolling / the middle-button. When I clicked the middle-button while the cursor was above a hyperlink, that link was opened in a new tab of my browser. But instead I wanted to scroll. Scrolling only worked when the cursor was not above a hyperlink. That’s a bad behaviour of the system. So I opened up the Mouse properties in the Control Panel. With the driver installed, you should see a tab there called “ThinkPad”. On that tab, set the Radiobutton below “Enable Middle Button” from “Use as middle click” to “Use for scrolling”.

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With that setting my Trackpoint and the hardware-buttons are working like a charm. Like it should have been from the beginning for such an expensive machine.

4/4 Enjoy

Now I can enjoy my machine and work with fun without a mouse while traveling, while at home, while working onsite for customers, … yes, I don’t need my mouse at all! Like I would have expected it from the beginning.

About Lenovo

No one is perfect. But I think it’s really a shame that Lenovo does not officially make a statement to this whole mess. To say “We don’t know yet if we’re going to support the older W540/T540-series with that hardware” or even to say “we won’t support older series with the new hardware-buttons” would be still by far better than just being silent, not answering questions and saying nothing at all. That isn’t good marketing and isn’t the nice way to your long-years-customers and Trackpoint-fans. Many might switch to other OEMs in the future, because Lenovo wants for example the W540-owners to buy a new W541. That’s a shame, as the small replacement-part would be sufficient for a lot of them, and the W540 isn’t old. Mine is just 7 months old… Lenovo brought the hardware-buttons back on the new devices, this shows that they know it was a bad idea to remove them…

In my opinion Lenovo should support all the W540/T540 and other Thinkpad users with the missing hardware-buttons with a cheap and supported hardware-upgrade. That’s the way how to keep customers happy, and that’s the way how those customers will buy a Thinkpad again instead of another device.

Bottom line

I’m happy now. If you want to do the same, be aware that you’ll loose your warranty with the steps described above. But having the buttons back is just awesome.

Cheers,
Thomas

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Comments (27)

  • Robert K Reply

    Hi Thomas,

    thank you very much for this interesting and helpful article!

    I’am in the same situtation: started with a T30, than had a T43, T61, W510 and now got a new T540p.
    I never needed a mouse nor a touch pad – just the trackpoint and the three mouse buttons.
    A small difference is that I need the middle button for paste (on Linux) – and it is not so easy to perform a middle button click on the new touchpad…

    I will order the new touchpad and let you know….

    Best Regards, Robert

    March 28, 2015 at 9:45 pm
  • andiM Reply

    Hi,

    how’s the sound of the new touchpad? Is it quieter than the old one?

    Regards,
    Andreas

    April 7, 2015 at 12:10 pm
  • Gerry Reply

    Hey Robert,
    This is awesome! This exactly what I wanted to do, but wasn’t sure. The measurements for the two parts were exact, so I was about to take the plunge, and order a replace touch pad on eBay. Thanks for laying the ground work for the rest of us!

    Cheers!
    Gerry

    April 8, 2015 at 1:44 pm
  • one Reply

    Hi Thomas,

    Thank you for the information.

    My company spent over AU$6000 on my fully loaded W540 (including NFC) reader), fantastic machine, but when it arrived (downgraded it to Win7 ultimate) it was almost unusable with the hopeless trackpoint it came with.

    I have owned many Lenovo/IBM W units in the past and have been very happy with them.

    The W540 trackpoint is simply a joke.

    I ordered one of the new pads with buttons as you show and have fitted it as per your instuctions.

    Everything works perfectly (only no NFC antenna in the new button pad. the processor pcb is still in my W540, but not connected to an antenna now))

    I may keep an eye out for a new trackpoint button version that contains the NFC reader too (should have the logo ‘two squares with a dot between’ on it like the stock one)

    The W540 is now a joy to use, just like it should have been from the factory.

    Keeping the old TrackPoint just incase the laptop needs a warranty return in the future.

    Looks like Lenovo will not be top dog for long with these products and lack of customer (business) support by ignoring important questions put to them.

    April 16, 2015 at 5:25 am
  • Andrew Lundgren Reply

    Thank you for the post!

    I bought one from Alibaba express as well. I am using it with OpenSuse 13.2 and 4.0.1 linux kernel.

    I did the hardware install and booted the laptop up and it worked perfectly. No changes to any settings. Multitouch and the buttons are all working like this pad came with the laptop.

    I haven’t tried Windows 7 yet.

    May 2, 2015 at 2:21 am
  • Andrew Reply

    Wasn’t able to get the Win7 to work as a multitouch. Linux is happy enough with no issues. Not sure I care enough to get gestures working on Windows, I’m not in it very often.

    The mouse contol panel says it can’t talk to the synaptic driver, so I can’t configure the gesters.

    May 2, 2015 at 5:39 am
  • Jens Reply

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

    It feels like getting a new pc. I hated the old mouse device so much that I always did through the pc to the wall. Not the good old Thinkpad feeling is back. Shame on Lenovo that made that crap touchpad.

    Thank you again Thomas :)

    May 4, 2015 at 11:06 pm
  • Russell Taylor Reply

    This saved me and my organisation having to buy another laptop :) Thank you for sharing.

    March 3, 2017 at 11:06 am
    • Thomas Claudius Huber Reply

      Hey Russell, thanks for the feedback. Great to hear this blogpost helped you. :)

      March 3, 2017 at 9:00 pm
  • Hans Kruiniger Reply

    Hi Thomas
    Do you think the new touchpad could be installed the other way up, so that the mouse buttons are near the edge instead of near the spacebar? Of course th eold W520 had both top and bottom buttons. I like to hit them with my thumbs.
    Thanks
    Hans

    April 11, 2017 at 11:27 am
    • Thomas Claudius Huber Reply

      Hi Hans,

      I don’t think so that you could install it the other way round. But I haven’t tried it.

      April 13, 2017 at 8:37 pm
  • Nikita Reply

    Hello Thomas!
    I used your manual and get it working on my W540.
    However, after upgrade to Win10 that steps do not help (at least in my case) at all. Only thing that helps is complete uninstallation of all synaptics drivers – which make physical buttons work, but of course does not give big option for configuraiton.

    Did you meet wit this problem on Win10?

    April 24, 2017 at 6:57 pm
    • Thomas Claudius Huber Reply

      Hi Nikita,

      I’m using Windows 10 on my machine since it’s out. I don’t use the Touchpad, just the Trackpoint and the buttons. This works great for me.

      Thomas

      May 4, 2017 at 12:52 pm
  • Kunwar Reply

    Hey Thomas!

    Thanks for such an easy to follow guide. Install was a breeze…how ever i am trying to iron out an issue.
    I have uninstalled original synaptics drivers. and installed n10gx25w drivers as suggested in the lenovo forums…but the issue i am having is i dont see the additional Thinkpad tab. It is behaving very much like a lenovo mouse and not a trackpad. Do you know the fix to this? I am on windows 10 pro
    Thanks in advance!

    June 23, 2017 at 7:25 pm
    • Thomas Claudius Huber Reply

      Hi Kunwar, sorry, I’m still using the n10gx25w and I’m happy with it. But maybe you find some newer drivers that bring back the Thinkpad tab. Sorry that I couldn’t help you.

      June 23, 2017 at 7:47 pm
  • Kunwar Reply

    Do you have 2 finger scroll capability with that driver? This is what i am trying to get back. the 3 physical keys work fine…but i am trying to find the driver i need to get the additional tab in mouse properties so i can config finger scroll

    June 23, 2017 at 7:53 pm
    • Thomas Claudius Huber Reply

      Yes, this works on my machine. But I have to touch with the two fingers at the same time. If one finger is already on the touchpad, and I just add the second finger, scrolling doesn’t work. If I add the two fingers at the same time, scrolling works.

      June 23, 2017 at 7:55 pm
  • Kunwar Reply

    Right that is how it should behave. both finger have to touch at same time…
    I am just frutrated right now trying to resolve this. After i unistall the original drivers…i even turned off wifi to prevent windows 10 jumping to install some other version of a drivers. I immediately execute the n10 drivers but still cant seem to replicate the results. The original lenovo thread you posted into mentions some talk of a registry edit and running a command. (this is a mystery to me)

    June 23, 2017 at 8:03 pm
    • Thomas Claudius Huber Reply

      I didn’t do anything special, I just installed the n10gx25w driver. But as mentioned, I don’t have the Lenovo/Thinkpad tab.

      June 23, 2017 at 8:13 pm
  • Dean Bennett Reply

    Thomas,
    Great post!!!
    I’m about to attempt this.
    In looking for the driver. The Lenovo site only shows the n10gx35W.exe download. Should I try that or ???
    Thanks..

    June 24, 2017 at 3:13 am
    • Thomas Claudius Huber Reply

      Hi Dean, you can try. I didn’t try with the x35w, only with the x25w.

      June 29, 2017 at 9:51 pm
      • Dean Bennett Reply

        Thomas,

        Wow – Did that work great! With Windows 8.1, the PS2 default driver does all my low-needs fingers need. I can’t thank you enough!!!!!!!!!

        I started with a Thinkpad 770 17 years ago and until I purchased a T540p a few years back, I have been their biggest supporter and evangelist. That quit with the joke of a trackpad that the 540 had. Since then I spared no effort swaying folks away from them. I get that everyone makes a design mistake. But, not owning it and working with your loyal customers is inexcusable.

        If you are ever in the Las Vegas area, drinks are on me….

        July 1, 2017 at 9:21 pm
  • Mike Reply

    I did this swap and the x25w works ‘okay’ except scrolling. After properly setting up the driver settings for middle click scrolling, I’m not able to scroll through some Win10 UI apps. Legacy apps I’m fine with (like File Explorer, and Chrome).

    I’ve heard that a clean Win10 install will fix this with the x25w driver, but I’m not sure.

    Are you having issues with UltraNav scrolling?

    October 14, 2017 at 7:04 pm
    • Thomas Claudius Huber Reply

      Hi Mike,

      great you did the swap. Yes, scrolling works, but when you use the Trackpoint and UltraNav, it doesn’t display the usual little scrollbar that shows you that you’re scrolling. Instead it shows a circle with the four directions – usually like when a mouse is connected. This works, but I know it’s not as smooth as the classic UltraNav scrolling.

      Did this answer your question?

      Thanks,
      Thomas

      October 14, 2017 at 7:34 pm

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