I’ve gathered the most essential Multitouch gestures Mac users need to know in this report. Of course, some may not be enabled within your system, so if you want to enable them, go to System Preferences>Trackpad and tick (or untick) the appropriate text box.
Furthermore, some applications – particularly third-party, big-name apps -- do not support all (any) of the gestures, which seems a shame. To be fair, the gestures offered on your Mac haven’t changed too much since I wrote The Lion Multitouch Gesture Guide.
Use four fingers on your trackpad. Swipe them up and you will activate Mission Control. Place four fingers toward the center of the trackpad and then spread them apart and you will push the windows aside to see your Desktop … or pinch them together to open Launchpad. If enabled, you’ll access App Expose just by swiping down with four fingers – enabling you to quickly and easily see what windows you have open in the application. Or you can swipe between full-screen apps by swiping left or right with four fingers.
If you have text selected in an app that supports this feature, a single tap with three fingers will invoke the dictionary for that text. Alternatively, if you select an app by hovering your cursor at the top of the app window, you will be able to move that window just by moving three fingers around the trackpad.
Two fingered topics
Two finger click to right-click and item, or swipe with two fingers in a direction to scroll. In Safari you can swipe right with two fingers to go back or simply swipe left to go forward in your browsing session – or smart zoom into an item by double tapping with two fingers. There’s more – flip between iCal calendar pages with a two fingered left swipe or rotate an image by rotating two fingers in Preview.
One finger fun
Tap to click – to be fair, you can pretty much achieve everything on your Mac using one finger. But you’ll probably want to extend the number of gestures you use in order to mitigate the risk of Repetitive Strain Injury.
If you’re using one of Apple’s new MacBooks, then good for you – you are exploring a future for the range using the new ForceTouch trackpad installed on those Macs. This features built-in force sensors that allow you to click anywhere and haptic feedback that provides a responsive and uniform feel, and enables you to get to contextual menu items just by pressing firmly on the trackpad. A complete list of supported ForceTouch options is available here. In the future, it seems inevitable Apple will introduce support for ForceTouch across its range, including in Bluetooth trackpads and iPhones.
Change is good
You can explore every supported Trackpad gesture inside System Preferences>Trackpad. There you can choose between Point & Click, Scroll & Zoom and “More Gestures” to take a look at all the different actions OS X supports where you will also be able to watch short videos showing you those gestures in action.
There’s more – look at the gesture descriptions and you’ll see that some gestures can be assigned different actions – so while the default setting is to let you swipe between full-screen apps using four fingers, you can change this to three fingers using the drop down menu besides the description itself.
Congratulations: If you’ve worked through these suggestions you’ve pretty much mastered Multitouch on your Mac.
Explore some of my many other How To articles:
- 9 sweet Mac OS X secrets you’ll want to use
- 12 Apple Watch tips you need to know
- How to fix iCloud sync in seconds
- OS X: How to create and use Mail groups
- How to export Apple Health data as a document to share
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