Monday, September 22, 2014

A message to Wacom. Your drivers still suck. Please fix them.

I know that almost nobody will read this, let alone someone that works at Wacom and cares about the drivers, but after 6 years of using Wacom products and still having a whole range of issues with their drivers, I need to write this down for my own sanity. This will focus on the driver experience with Windows, since that is where I spend almost all my time using their Intuos products.

1. Make the driver automatically disable Windows Pen + Touch 'enhancements'. This is by far the most crazy thing about Wacom's drivers in my opinion. When you first set up your Wacom, Windows thinks you are trying to use a touch screen, and even if it thinks you are using a tablet, it seems to think you're an office worker using it for writing memos... As a result, Windows enables a bunch of useless helpers that make using the tablet utterly frustrating. There are ripples when you touch the pen on the tablet, there's a hand-writing recognition toolbar that hides at the side of the screen, waiting to pop up as soon as Windows detects you are trying to enter text (never mind that you have a fucking keyboard), and on top of that, there's a menu that appears on long presses, so forget trying to draw a stroke in a graphics application - why would you want to do that anyway? Stop doodling and get back to work!

Fortunately, there are fixes for this that make disabling all this horrible stuff very easy (here), but Wacom should be doing these things when you install the drivers, perhaps giving an option that says "Wait! I bought this tablet because I can't figure out how to use the keyboard and want to use my computer as a horrible memo pad" for the minority that aren't going to be drawing.

2. Make an option that completely disables touch strips, buttons and wheels in a single click. I'll admit that the buttons can be useful to have, but the touch wheel is so easily activated by the side of one's hand brushing against it, that it should be easier to just disable everything. Wacom did recently add some check boxes that go a long way to making this easier, but for those who just want the pen and drawing surface, it would be very helpful to have a setting that nukes all these novelties.

3. Make the driver not randomly forget all the settings. This happens so often, and has happened since I used an Intuos 3 that I can't believe Wacom hasn't fixed it. Sometimes I'll start up and touch will be enabled, and the side buttons will be making horrible menus pop up all over the place if I so much as breath on them. Then I'll go into the settings and find out that everything has just reset for some reason. Given that there is no way to set up the Wacom exactly how I want it very quickly, this is extremely annoying.

4. The Wacom Desktop Center absolutely does not need to load with Windows. Please disable autostart by default.

5. Why are there two separate settings tools (Desktop Center and Tablet Properties)? Can't you merge them into one amazing app that doesn't forget its settings or automatically load when Windows starts?

6. Make the tail switch default to right and middle mouse. Actually, now that I think about this, double-clicking with a Wacom pen is kind of annoying, since you almost certainly end up moving the cursor a couple of pixels when you lift the pen before the second click, but having no middle mouse and having to use a modifier key or revert to the mouse makes me very sad. Then again, thinking about it further, Photoshop doesn't use the middle mouse button, and Illustrator doesn't even use the right mouse button, so perhaps there is less demand for this than I am estimating. I use my Wacom for everything aside from games (where it usually doesn't work properly) mainly because it doesn't hurt my wrists after using it all day, so I guess I'm probably in the minority here. At least I can change it until the drivers forget all my settings again.

When my Wacom tablet is working properly, it's great, so it would be awesome to see some of these issues resolved after all this time. Finally, how about a plain pen & tablet with no buttons and a larger drawing surface? Please!


  1. The only time Wacom will improve their terrible, TERRIBLE drivers is when a new company comes to market with some threatening competition. Until then, we're stuck with overpriced, moderately functional hardware.

  2. They have to fix this fucking driver this makes me mad! I will not use this tablet very often but if want use it it does NOT WORK.... I draw in the most cases with my mouse because It get the shit out of me if the fucking driver is not found - I make a refund

  3. Thanks for sharing. I have terrible experience with wacom customer service. The outsourced tech support basically read the owner's manual back to me but with a heavy inaudible accent! And they don't service discontinued models. I'm glad there are other pen tablets in the market now