Apple has created 15 familiar gestures that your fingers can use on a Multi-Touch trackpad to perform a function. In any case, a few of them are undoubtedly already second nature in your day-to-day use, but you may not have had the chance to learn others that could really help you over time.
If you can remember the following 10 gestures, you’ll take steps to use your trackpad more efficiently and put less strain on your hands. Even if it takes you a while to remember them all, there is another benefit to saving time by using gestures. There should also be a reduction in the frequency of accidentally using an annoying and task-disrupting gesture on the trackpad.
Time to complete: 10 minutes
Required tools: MacBook trackpad or Magic Trackpad
Tap to click
Tapping with one finger to click is a logical starting point for teaching someone how to use a trackpad. This most essential gesture allows the user to click on linked text and pictures on websites and on a selected part of a document in a word processor. You literally won’t get anywhere without it. When you double-tap, you’re probably performing the most commonly used gesture: opening a file, folder, or app.
Secondary click (right click)
With the two crucial ones already clinched, these next gestures will only improve your arsenal. Instead of pressing Control and tapping with one finger to right-click, you can click or tap with two fingers to achieve the same result. The secondary click can relieve pressure on your purlicue, the area of the hand between the thumb and index finger.
The next important gesture that all trackpad users know and use as often as they breathe is when two fingers (usually the index finger and middle finger) slide up or down to scroll through websites and documents. The scroll bar usually found on the right side of a website, word processing page, or Finder window is still useful if there are a lot of pages you want to quickly jump past, but this gesture is more useful for the finer points.
Drag with three fingers
Unlike the other gestures, you have to go to Accessibility Preferences in System Settings to enable three-finger dragging. For a more ergonomic movement than what you might be used to making with your thumb and index finger, you can use three fingers followed by a tap or click to drag and drop items on your screen.
Zoom in or out
It takes two fingers to pinch and zoom in or stretch to zoom out of text or an image. Be careful not to accidentally zoom out so far that all your tabs are divided into small, separate windows – depending on your tabbing habits, that can be jarring.
Another two-finger gesture that helps you see better is smart zoom. Tap with two digits to quickly zoom in and out of a page or image. This differs from the previously mentioned zoom in or out gesture because only one degree of zoom is available.
Speaking of images, you can also move two fingers around each other to rotate photos. This is useful for situations where the image could be more interesting if presented in a different direction. It may take a little practice to perform rotations in fine steps.
When you’re ready for an overview of everything you have open and active, you can access Mission Control by swiping up with four fingers.
Visually browse your collection of apps with Launchpad, which is accessible by pinching your thumb and three fingers together. It’s especially useful if you want to do some tidying up to make room for new ones.
Move your thumb and three fingers apart to reveal the desktop, which can easily become cluttered and distracting if you don’t look at it occasionally. This and the opposite Launchpad gesture can both help you keep up with your Mac’s user interface.