Fixing Palm Detect on Ubuntu 14.04

For some awful reason, palm detect is off by default, even though it appears to be on in the system settings.  The problem occurs while I’m typing lots of code, or responding to an email.  I’ll be typing along. not paying close attention to where my cursor is.  All of a sudden, everything I just typed, highlights in the midst of me typing, and disappears because my cursor just selected everything and erased it.

After weeks of trying different start up scripts, and changing different settings, I think I have finally come to a conclusion on this issue.  Here are the steps I took to fix this:

First you need to figure out what type of touch pad device you are using according to xinput.  This is done by running:

xinput list

xinput-list

Look for the keyword ‘touchpad’.

xinput-list-highlight-touchpad

Copy the entire text with the word touchpad in it.  This is the name of your touchpad device, as far as Ubuntu is concerned.
Make note of the ‘id’

Now list the properties of your touchpad with the command:

xinput list-props [touchpad name]
xinput list-props {id}

x-input-list-props-touchpad

You’re looking for 2 lines here,  Palm Detection and Palm Dimensions.  As you can see, my Palm Detection is already set to 1, and Palm Dimensions are already set to small numbers.  These are the things you’re looking to change.

To change these settings, you want to type into terminal:

xinput set-prop "[device name]" "Synaptics Palm Detection" 1
xinput set-prop {id} "Synaptics Palm Detection" 1

xinput set-prop "{id}" "Synaptics Palm Dimensions" 5, 5

Obviously, replace the [device name] with you’re specific device name, and also replace “Synaptics Palm Dimensions” with whatever is in your terminal.  Mine was defaulted at 10, 100 for palm dimensions, which wasn’t even close to right.  You’re going to want to keep running setting the palm dimensions until you find something that works for your specific touchpad.

You’re almost done.  Once you find the settings that work for you, you’re going to want to save these settings so they don’t get reset to what they were before on your next restart.  This is done by opening your Dash menu (super button).  Type: Start, and click Startup Applications.

start-menu-startup-applications

Once you have this window open, click Add.

startup-applications-preferences

add-startup-command

You can set the name to be whatever you’d like.  I’d suggest making it simple so you remember what that command is.  In the command box, you paste your command that you have found works for your palm detect.  You’ll want to do this for Palm Detect and for Palm Dimensions.

Now restart your computer and test.  You can see if the changes took by running the xinput list-props [device] command again and seeing if your new settings are there.

I hope this helps you, please comment where it does or not.

24 thoughts on “Fixing Palm Detect on Ubuntu 14.04”

  1. Thank you. The touchpad was the only annoying thing with my ASUS UX31A. Now, with your workaround, it’s nearly the best computer I can imagine.

  2. I have tried this on a Thinkpad X1 Carbon, running Mint 17.1 Cinnamon, and an Alienware 17 (2015; Gtx 970M) running Ubuntu 14.04! And surprisingly it makes absolutely no difference, compared when Palm Detect is turned off.

    This and the killer wi fi are the only problems I have currently with Linux!

  3. Didn’t work for me. I added “Synaptics Palm Detection”,1 to the command box. Saved and restarted. I reran xinput list-props 14 and found my changes had reverted to the original values.

    1. Maybe the comma was the issue there? E.g.

      “Synaptics Palm Detection” 1

      as opposed to

      “Synaptics Palm Detection”,1

  4. Didn’t work for me either. But my Palm Detect was already 1 and area 5,5. Tried setting area to 10,10 just to see, rebooted, and its still 5,5. I get palm cursor moves all the time and I hate it. Machine is an Asus N56VJ with the same Elantouch pad as yours.

  5. Thanks it was a life saver!

    you can replace the prop also with a number, and can also put to the ~/.xsessionrc

    e.g.:
    xinput set-prop 13 318 1
    xinput set-prop 13 319 1, 1

  6. Brilliant, thanks – XPS 9350 (2016).

    Out of interest though, why do you have two separate start-up commands when you could simply string them together with semicolons separating them?

  7. On my laptop the id of the touchpad changes if I use a usb mouse. So adding the command in the startup applications is not of much use…

  8. ubuntu 16.04 in zenbook ux303ub , this command worked fine but while using

    xinput set-prop “{id}” “Synaptics Palm Dimensions” 5, 5

    make sure that you give instead of between 5 & 5 and type command like this

    xinput set-prop “{id}” “Synaptics Palm Dimensions” 5 5

  9. On my lenovo carbon x1, Palm Detection was already on. So I shrunk the dimensions, but I’m not seeing much of an effect. It’s a really the area below my thumbs, not the palm proper, that makes contact and causes the trouble.

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