Tools to Wrangle & Corral Your Mac Trackpad

Tools to Wrangle & Corral Your Mac Trackpad

Range Govindan
Jun 29, 2011

Since we updated our laptop to a MacBook Pro, we haven't had any use for a mouse. While we intensely disliked touchpads on PC laptops, Apple has just nailed it with the their glass Trackpad. Here's a few ideas and resources for squeezing out more utility from your Trackpad or Magic Trackpad...

MagicPrefs received an update a couple of months ago, and it's gotten even easier to use. We've mentioned this tool before, but haven't really given much information on how to use it. Just like having programmable buttons on a mouse, MagicPrefs allows you to create a plethora of shortcuts that will allow you quickly to get things done. These shortcuts will save valuable time, especially if you are a touch-typer. Simply put, since the Trackpad can recognize so many different gestures, it seems a shame to stick to the few that Apple has included in their System Preferences.

In the Clicks & Taps sub menu, you can customize different clicks and taps. We actually prefer using taps since they are quicker and require less time to accomplish, so it's pretty good that you can customized up to a four-fingered tap. This is down to personal preference. Taps also have the benefit of being almost silent. Here are some of the frequently used shortcuts that you can program on the taps and clicks.

    Select All -> ⌘+A
  • Copy -> ⌘+C
  • Delete -> DELETE Key
  • Paste -> ⌘+V
  • Quit -> ⌘+Q
  • Close -> ⌘+W
  • Open New Window -> ⌘+N

The other programmable gestures include three finger swipes, which can go up, down, left, and right. Each of these directions can be programmed with something new. Rotations and pinches can also be customized. Then there are a couple of plugins that are directly included in MagicPrefs. We've found the MagicMenu quite useful.

Cinch ($7, available in the App Store) allows you to manage your windows easily. This little program designates the topmost, leftmost, and rightmost parts of your screen as hot zones. Once the program is installed, you simply drag your window to these zones. The topmost part will maximize the window. The leftmost and rightmost parts will allow you to create splitscreens. If you prefer using the keyboard, then SizeUp ($13) will do the trick. It has a few more options and allows you to tile your windows effectively. This is useful if you've got a bigger screen.

Better Touch Tool: While the Magic Trackpad works well with iMacs and Mac Pros, we'd like the MacBook Trackpad to be even larger, so we could use a stylus with it for a built-in Wacom-style tablet. You can also try using the Better Touch Tool. MagicPrefs is easier to setup, but Better Touch Tool is more comprehensive. But note, these two apps will create conflicts if they're enabled together.

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(Images: Flickr member Scanlime licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member MightyKenny licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member Thomas J Moore used with permission)

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