Tapping the track pad in order to click has become a very popular way for selecting application or texts when using a Macintosh. Its popularity comes from the convinces factor of not having to press down completely on the trackpad every time. However, tap to click tends to be annoying for new users, who may find themselves selecting texts or applications when not desired. Other than tap to click, the trackpad has many other potential capabilities like secondary click, zooming, rotating, and a multitude of gestures. To find these trackpad customizations locate your System Preferences application, then open the Trackpad pane under Hardware. From there you are free to explore. Bellow is a quick overview of my most commonly used trackpad click and hand gestures.
Tap to Click
As described above, tap to click gives the user the connivence of being able to tap their trackpad (instead of pressing down to select) in order to select text or apps.
This allows the user the ability to secondary click (a.k.a. right click), instead of pressing control + click.
Zoom and Rotate
Found in the Scroll & Zoom section, zoom and rotate is a quick way to zoom into or rotate photos in selected applications like iPhoto.
Swipe Between Apps
In my opinion this is the best gesture ever created. Although it is simple this gesture enables you to four finger swipe between your desktop screens.
In Mac OS X Lion, you may notice that when you scroll up or down, using two fingers on the trackpad, the content of the page scrolls up or down, instead of the window around the content. Mac OS X Lion adopted the iOS approach to scrolling, so if you move your fingers up, the page is moved up. In many cases, this is more convenient and more natural, but for some, they may prefer the old way of scrolling instead. I will break down the process of how to change the scrolling. If you are not using a trackpad or Magic Mouse, go to the Mouse options and uncheck “Move content in the direction of finger movement when scrolling and navigating”. If you are using a trackpad or Magic Mouse, here is how to do it.
First, click on on the Apple logo on the top left of your screen.
Second, click in System Preferences…
Third, click Trackpad
Fourth, click Scroll & Zoom and uncheck the Scroll direction: natural
There you go. You are now free to scroll however you like.
Feel free to leave comments and suggestions on which way of scrolling you prefer.
Apple finally got the trackpad right when they made it glass, multi-touch, and entirely clickable; but it gets even magic-er with a little customization courtesy of Better Touch Tool.
Apple natively offers some (limited) customization of trackpad gestures, but the free application BetterTouchTool deserves credit for making the hardware as useful as it is. BTT allows you to assign commands to 50+ gestures – from ‘5 finger swipe down’ to ‘3 finger tip-tap left’ – and better yet, assign unique gestures to unique applications. BTT also implements the pretty useful ‘Snap’ feature found in Windows 7, used to view two windows side by side (which I find very useful when comparing or transcribing data).
My favorite implementation of BTT is in Chrome; where four finger swipes left and right move me between tabs and three finger swipes up and down create and close tabs. I also use it to control Spaces (five finger tap to view all, ‘tip finger swipe’ to switch between) which allowed me to actually enjoy the benefits spaces without having to wait for OSX Lion. Other cool features are ‘Live View’; a window that shows you’re finger motions on a virtual trackpad and the command that is recognized (so you can practice your ‘tip-taps’ and ‘tip swipes’), and you can easily toggle BTT on and off from the taskbar in case you have to share your mac with your clumsy fingered roomate.
The trackpad has come quite a long way (and has definitely destroyed its portable-input-device competition) and while it may not yet be ideal for gaming, graphic design, and other involved processes, it adds significant value over the mouse in everyday tasks; like web, editing documents, and viewing media, and may even beat out the mouse and become the input method of choice for the everyday user. I mean IBM definitely never created a desktop version of their ThinkPad’s little red dot…