One of the many, many things that Apple does right is trackpads. Not only is the trackpad hardware that Apple uses in the MacBook lineup the best in the world (seriously, I’ve never used a non-Apple trackpad that even came close), but the software backing it up is world-class.
A lot of that has to do with the library of consistent trackpad gestures Apple has built into OS X over the years. Compared to OS X, Windows feels downright schizophrenic when you’re using gestures. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. But it now appears that Microsoft is putting an end to the trackpad schizophrenia by borrowing Apple’s approach to gestures.
I’ve let friends borrow my Macbook when they come over to my place from time to time, and I’m still surprised by the way they don’t “get” the trackpad. Some of them look for the button to click, some want to know how to right click, and still others move the mouse cursor way over to the scroll bar area on the web browser, looking to move the page up or down.
So, I figured it might be time for a quick tip with some easy yet non-obvious Trackpad gestures that you can use if you’re new to the Macbook trackpad system, or if you just want to send to friends that continue to be baffled by the trackpad when they borrow your laptop.
I absolutely love my Magic Trackpad. It gives me all the functionality of my MacBook’s trackpad, only on a huge panel which can be placed to the left or the right of my keyboard. For a while I was even using two of them, but that deviation is now over (side note: if you want a Trackpad and live near Barcelona then hit me up on Twitter or e-mail). But my happiness with Apple’s glass-n-aluminum slab doesn’t stop me coveting the Touch Slab from Orée, possibly the best-named Mac peripheral ever.
What is it? The Touch Slab is a trackpad carved from solid wood.
This one’s for all you Macbook and Magic Trackpad users; you know who you are. Mac OS X comes with Mission Control, a way to see all the open applications running on your Mac. Typically, you can hit the F3 key to bring up Mission Control and see what’s what on your Mac.
Similarly, you can either click on any Desktop Space across the top of Mission Control, or hit Command-Arrow (right or left) to switch to different Desktop Spaces on your Mac. This makes it easy to visually keep things separate. Some folks keep their web browser in one Desktop Space, and their word processing app in another, switching back and forth as they need the respective apps.
If you’re using a trackpad to access your Mac OS X laptop, or you’re using a magic trackpad connected to your Mac desktop, however, there are a couple of cool trackpad gestures you can use to do the same thing.
If you’re anything like me, you pretty much spend all of your day clicking. Clicking a mouse. Clicking a trackpad. Clicking a keyboard. And yet, despite all of that physical exertion, I’m still somehow a fatass. How can that be? Luckily, some scientists have looked into the problem, and figured out the answer: I’m just not clicking enough.
A lot of companies have tried to imitate Apple’s trackpads because they kind of just melt into the rest of computer. They’re one of the most underrated features of the MacBook, but it’s going to be harder for companies to completely ripoff the feature now that Apple has a patent on it.
Logitech produces some of the best portable keyboards there are for the iPad, and it’s just announced another that will also work with your Mac, too. But not only is it compatible with both Mac and iOS devices, its awesome ‘Easy-Switch’ feature allows you to connect to up to three via Bluetooth at the same time and then quickly switch between them at the touch of a button.
Your keyboard lights up, so why shouldn’t your trackpad?
If you’ve got a fairly recent MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, you’ll know that typing in a dark room is a breeze thanks to its backlit keyboard. It now seems as though Apple is looking to extend this feature to the trackpad as well. In a new patent filing entitled “Illuminated Touchpad”, the Cupertino company describes a new touch-sensitive input technology that doesn’t just light up, but also provides an “improved feedback mechanism.”
The new Notification Center in OS X Lion is pretty cool, you gotta admit. It really integrates the notifications from your iPhone, iPad, and various Macs you might use during the day into one place.
While on a Mac, whether desktop or laptop, you can click on the Notification icon in the upper right hand corner of the screen, causing the whole display to shift to the left, and the dark linen background of Notification Center shows up on the right. There isn’t a keyboard shortcut to make this happen, but we’ve got two different ways you can activate it, even still.