Using a Stylus Pen on a Computer Trackpad

Using a Stylus Pen on a Computer Trackpad

Using a Stylus Pen on a Computer Trackpad: Works on laptops AND Chromebooks!

A few weeks ago I learned that stylus pens also work on computer trackpads. How did I not know this? As soon as I made this discovery, I grabbed my 99 cent iPad stylus pen, opened Google Autodraw and tested it out on both my MacBook and Chromebook. It worked like a charm!

I posted the image on the left to both my Instagram and Facebook accounts. To my surprise I found out that many people didn't know this random tip either! Honestly, I thought it was just something I overlooked in the overwhelming tech world 😋

Google Autodraw

Using my stylus pen on my Chromebook while utilizing Google Autodraw was amazing! Google Autodraw is a really cool (and FREE) tool available on all devices that uses artificial intelligence to guess what you are trying to draw and provides options for you to replace your drawing with professional images. Artists who upload their images to this tool have to agree to Google's terms: "Drawings are my own and Google may use my drawings for any purpose." Therefore, the images are copyright free!
Using Google Autodraw in the Classroom

This digital tool is very simplistic, allowing students to utilize several tools:
  • autodraw tool (AI will populate images of what it thinks you are attempting to draw)
  • freehand draw tool
  • shape tool
  • fill tool
  • text tool
  • color cool
  • zoom
Students can use these images to use in a variety of technology projects!  Check out these blog posts about different ways of using Google Autodraw in the classroom:

Tech & Learning's post: Autodraw: Creation Made Easier

Control Alt Achiev's post: Using Goole Autodraw for Sketchnotes, Infographics, Drawings and More

Mark Connolly's Corner's post: Google Autodraw 8 Ways

Google Drawing

After testing out my stylus pen and Chromebook with Google Autodraw, I then moved onto Google Drawing to see how it performed. I use Google Drawing for all kinds of creation projects that you can find HERE. The first time I attempted to draw a smiley face in Google Drawing, it was a disaster. My cursor jumped all over the place and I think a two year old would have even made fun of my "creation". However, I walked away from the computer and came back five minutes later to try again. It worked beautifully! I have no clue what went wrong with my first attempt.

If you didn't know, Google Drawing has a tool called Scribble that appears under the line tool drop down menu. This will allow you to freehand draw:

Here are my two different attempts at drawing a smiley face with the Scribble tool in Google Drawing:
Stylus Pen & Trackpad Drawing
Finger & Trackpad Drawing
Which one do you think is better? Neither is out of this world because I have ZERO artistic drawing ability. However, I think I prefer my stylus pen drawing. It would be nice to give students a choice in which to use, especially those with weak trackpad skills.

Electronic Signatures


Google Drawing is a great place to create an electronic signature. Use your stylus pen and trackpad to put your John Hancock on a Google Drawing canvas and then go to File>Download As>png image. This will save your signature so it has a transparent background and you can overlay your signature on any document you may have to sign (as long as the document allows you to add images).

The Trick

To successfully draw with a stylus pen on a trackpad, keep the stylus in your dominate hand and lightly drag it on the trackpad until your cursor appears where you would like to begin to draw on the canvas. You do NOT need to press hard. Next, use your pointer finger on your other hand to hold down the trackpad button that will allow you to draw. Make your first stroke with the stylus. Lift your finger as you use the stylus pen to reposition your cursor for the next phase of your drawing. Continue until your drawing is complete.

Affordable Stylus Pens

My travel bag always has a class set of stylus pens ready to GO. I buy the cheapies from Amazon 😉 That way if a child breaks the tip, I don't feel badly about tossing a stylus that cost me 60 cents. No matter what kind of stylus pen you purchase, always remind your students to press lightly or else the tips WILL break off (on both the expensive kind and the cheapies). You can find a pack of 10 for $5.98 with my affiliate link below:

Well there you have it. A random techie fact for the week! Do you see your students using stylus pens on your class laptops or Chromebooks? Let me know in the comments below.

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