I’ve been an avid laptop user since the time I was first assigned a laptop at work. Laptops I used included Thinkpads with trackpoint nubs, Compaq Presarios with the usual touchpads, an iBook and a Powerbook, both of course with one-button trackpad clickers. With my experiences I tend to think that one’s machine would define one’s habits.
For instance, when the Thinkpad was my main work computer, I was really used to the trackpoint nub. I could work with touchpads, but I could do things faster with the trackpoint, especially because of the proximity of the nub with where my forefinger usually lies on the keyboard.
Now that both my laptops have touchpads, I still have what I would say are strange habits when it comes to touchpad use. I don’t tap to click. I use the clicker.
I guess I formed the habit of clicking instead of tapping from two things. First is my preference for trackpoints before. Second, is because of the Mac default for not registering taps as clicks.
On most Windows-based laptops, the default setting would be for the touchpad to take a tap as a left-click. On Mac laptops, though, the default is for the touchpad (called the trackpad in this case) to ignore taps or read them as part of cursor movement. You click the button to click. Simple as that.
I’m not sure if I stand well with majority of laptop users out there. Most people I know are used to tapping rather than clicking. And I sometimes watch them in fascination how they tap on stuff instead of clicking (and even double-tap to drag).
One drawback of having the tap-to-click feature of touchpads is if your touchpad driver doesn’t have tap filtering. Sometimes your palm would brush the pad while you’re typing, and the movement registers as a click. Your mouse cursor would then select a point elsewhere in the document or worse, to some other window.
You can see how much of a clicker I am (rather than a tapper) by how much my year-old Presario’s rubbery left clicker has faded. On my Powerbook, though, the single clicker is still clicky and springy even after years of use–as if it were new. But that’s another story.