Red “button” in the middle of the keyboard: what’s it for?

Chances are, at some point, you’ve wandered into a sizable retail store and found yourself inspecting laptops on display. Amidst your observations, you may have come across an intriguing red dot positioned at the center of the keyboard of certain laptops. That peculiar red dot is none other than the TrackPoint, a distinctive feature commonly found on Lenovo laptops.

To delve into the origins of this “red button” nestled amidst laptop keyboards, we must venture back to the year 1992. It was during this time that researchers Ted Selker and Joe Rutledger brought forth a novel concept to IBM. Their vision revolved around the integration of a special button positioned at the heart of the laptop, one that would serve functional purposes.

The concept found favor, and it was Richard Sapir—an influential industrial designer of the 20th century—who materialized the idea. The resulting creation, christened the TrackPoint, bore a vibrant red hue and made its inaugural appearance on the IBM ThinkPad 700c.

IBM underwent a shift in its trajectory in more recent years, opting to exit the consumer market and redirect its focus towards professional sectors. This shift in direction culminated in the transfer of its laptop division to Lenovo. Consequently, the esteemed ThinkPad brand found its new home with Lenovo, along with the distinct TrackPoint feature intact.

lenovo TrackPoint

The Practical Purpose of the Red “Button”

The inclusion of the TrackPoint by Lenovo in its laptops remains a somewhat enigmatic feature for many, its true utility often eluding users’ awareness. Some might assume it to be a backup trackpad, a contingency option in case the primary trackpad malfunctions. However, this is a misconception, as the TrackPoint serves a distinct and sensible purpose.

The TrackPoint is a deliberately engineered element aimed at enhancing user productivity. Its design circumvents the need to constantly shift one’s hand between the keyboard and the trackpad.

The positioning of this component is far from arbitrary; it’s strategically situated in the natural space where fingers reside while typing. A slight movement of the finger on the TrackPoint allows for seamless cursor manipulation, eliminating the time-consuming transition between keyboard and mouse.


Remarkably, this component boasts “variable” functionality. The manner in which the TrackPoint responds varies depending on the applied pressure and the specific finger utilized (left or right hand index). Most intriguingly, altering the pressure applied results in varying cursor speeds—movements can range from swift to leisurely.

Though seemingly minor, the time-saving benefits are substantial. Navigating between keyboard and mouse demands a substantial time investment. The TrackPoint system negates this hurdle, facilitating instantaneous shifts and ensuring no time is wasted.


One drawback of the TrackPoint is its inability to replicate the right and left-click functions of a traditional mouse. Many laptops address this limitation by incorporating additional buttons atop the trackpad. This modification allows for seamless clicking without interrupting typing or necessitating a descent to the lower keyboard region.

The TrackPoint’s unobtrusive placement ensures it doesn’t interfere with standard keyboard use; it nestles unobtrusively among the keycaps. Typically adorned in red for easy identification, it can also come in black. Interestingly, the color can even be customized—offering options beyond red and black, including green.

Lenovo TrackPoint


Importantly, the TrackPoint outperforms conventional touchpads in terms of precision. Leveraging joystick-like mechanics, it affords a higher degree of accuracy than the tactile surface of a keyboard.

Transitioning to this system may require a modest adjustment period, as it diverges from the familiar norm. However, with time, the interface becomes intuitive, offering enhanced precision in cursor movement—particularly noticeable in straight-line navigation.

Ultimately, while the red “button” might appear enigmatic at first glance, its inclusion as the TrackPoint is a thoughtful and pragmatic feature that contributes to efficient and seamless laptop usage.


Absolutely, the TrackPoint serves as a distinct alternative to the touchpad, yet its implementation is imbued with a profound sense of practicality and efficiency. By adeptly discerning varying degrees of pressure and even distinguishing between the indexes of the left and right hands, this feature offers a unique avenue for heightened productivity. While acclimatizing to its usage might entail a brief learning curve, the rewards in terms of enhanced efficiency become palpable. The investment of time in familiarizing yourself with the TrackPoint will assuredly yield dividends, ushering in a notable improvement in your overall effectiveness.