The Touchpad

The Macbook touchpad is really an interesting piece of work. Its mode of operation is fundamentally different than that of a Windows touch pad. In fact, it may be more accurate to call it a finger pad because everything you do with it seems to revolve more around the number of fingers on the pad, than the touching of the pad itself. What do I mean? I mean that depending on the number of fingers you have on the Macbook’s touchpad, the action differs. That is even if you perform the same touch movement.

If you move around the touchpad with 1 finger, then you are simply moving your pointer. With 2 fingers, you can scroll, rotate, and zoom. With 3 fingers, you can navigate one step forward or backward through folders, pictures, etc, and with 4 fingers you are either switching windows, or switching applications. This dynamism extends itself to the applications you use, such that in your browser for example, a horizontal 3-fingered swipe moves you through your browsing history. In other words, either backwards to the last URL you visited, or forwards to the next URL you visited. In addition, the touchpad is also used to click. There is no left or right touchpad button, so once again the fingers come into play. A 1-fingered click is a left click, and a 2-fingered click is a right click.

Of course, the consequences of all this are widespread. You can now do about 5 more things in general with your touchpad that you couldn’t do before, and 5 more things per application that you couldn’t do before. It also means that you need to watch your fingers or you will often find yourself slipping from a 1-fingered move of the cursor to a 2-fingered scroll. Suddenly finding yourself with 3-fingers or more on the touchpad is a lot less likely.

Now, what I have described so far are the default touchpad settings. They can be customised, and you can enable all of the 1-fingered fun you are already used to while disabling all that displeases you… but why? The sooner you get used to being a multi-touch user, the earlier you’ll reap the benefits.



Damola Mabogunje

Software Engineer by day, Blogger, Poet and Author, by night, I spend my days writing everything from the convex comma, to highly complex code.

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