Using gestures to control your Mac


Ever wondered what makes an Apple trackpad so versatile? We'll show you how a simple gesture like a swipe, pinch or tap can give you so many ways to interact with your Mac.

Trackpad gestures


You can use gestures on the MacBook, MacBook Pro & Air's built-in trackpads, or an iMac or Mac Pro that's got a Magic Trackpad connected to it.

Go to Apple > System Preferences > Trackpad to open the options. We'll explain each of the three tabs in more detail below.


Point & Click

These settings are all about how you use the mouse pointer:

  • Look up & data detectors - lets you look up words, add calendar entries and make calls by using 'Force Touch', or a triple-finger tap.
  • Secondary click - works like a right-click on a Windows PC to give you extra menus.
  • Tap to click - lets you tap the trackpad to select instead of pressing down on it.
  • Silent clicking - provides sound for a built-in Force Touch trackpad.
  • Force Click and haptic feedback - adds pressure-sensitive options to the trackpad.


Scroll & Zoom

These settings control how you interact with what you see on the screen and are either on or off:

  • Scroll direction - choose 'natural' to scroll like on a smartphone or tablet, or set it up the other way to work like a mouse wheel.
  • Zoom in or out - pinch and spread two fingers to zoom in and out.
  • Smart zoom - double-tap with two fingers to zoom into pictures and text.
  • Rotate - twist two fingers on the trackpad to rotate a picture.


More Gestures

These gestures help you move around the Mac, switching between apps and windows. Drop-down arrows let you change the action needed to perform the task:

  • Swipe between pages - use your fingers to go backwards and forwards through pages in a PDF, e-book, or in your web browser.
  • Swipe between full-screen apps - switch between full-screen apps or desktops (or 'Spaces' as Apple calls them).
  • Notification Center - swipe in to see notifications from apps and other widgets.
  • Mission Control - shows all open apps and Spaces.
  • App Exposé - see all windows open in the current app.
  • Launchpad - pinch to see all the apps installed on your Mac. Spread your thumb and fingers apart on the trackpad to close it.
  • Spread your thumb and fingers apart to clear the screen and see your desktop. Pinch to close.

Force Click gestures and Force Touch trackpads

Since 2015, MacBooks have used 'Force Touch' trackpads, combining a pressure-sensitive surface with haptic feedback (that's the vibration you feel on a smartphone when you press the screen). Press on the trackpad and you'll feel a mouse click, then increase the pressure and you'll feel another.

This can include things like looking up information or adding an event to your calendar, and can be found in many apps and system features on your Mac. See more examples of how Force Click gestures work on Apple's website.


Mouse Gestures


You can use gestures on the Apple Magic Mouse to control your Mac just like you'd use a trackpad. Click Apple > System Preferences > Mouse to set them up.

The settings might look similar to the trackpad ones, but the gestures for each option vary. Some are the same on trackpad and mouse, but others aren't.


Point & Click

These options control how you use the mouse to interact with the Mac:

  • Scroll direction: Natural - pick 'natural' to scroll like on a smartphone or tablet, or set it up the other way to work like a mouse wheel.
  • Secondary click - opens a context menu, like right-clicking a mouse on a Windows computer.
  • Smart Zoom - zoom into a block of text, picture or web page without having to move the mouse.


More gestures

Use these gestures to help you move around your Mac. A drop-down arrow means you can change the action needed to perform the task:

  • Swipe between pages - swipe across the mouse to move between pages in a file, or on the web.
  • Swipe between full-screen apps - switch between full-screen apps and Spaces.
  • Mission Control - see all running apps and Spaces.

That should be everything you need to swipe, tap and pinch your way around your Mac, but if you'd like to speak to an Expert from Team Knowhow, you can get in touch here.

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