Use Trackpad Gestures and Functions on Mac OS X

Edited by VisiHow, Eng, Anonymous, Doug Collins

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An Introduction to Mac OS X Trackpad Gestures

If your Mac OS X trackpad gestures are not working, have stopped working, or you need a cheat sheet with an apple trackpad gestures list, these functions are explained in the VisiHow article below. At the end of the article we've provided a video demonstrating how to access the trackpad app in Mac OS X, and explaining all of the gestures in detail, with examples.

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To get started we'll need to take two very simple steps:

  1. 1
    We will need to to scroll down to down to the bottom of our screen and bring up the control bar.
    Once the control bar is up, we will select the "System Preferences" by clicking on in. This is the icon which is shaped like a gear, and can bee seen raised above the other icons at the bottom of the Mac OS X screen shot below.
    How to Use Trackpad Gestures and Functions on Mac OS X~canvas16 164504.jpg
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  2. 2
    This will open up our "System Preferences" menu.
    On the second row of icons you will see "Trackpad", which is the fifth icon from the left. We are going to click on that to open it. As shown in the next section on "Point & Click" gestures in OS X, this will bring up a window where we will have a selection of trackpad gestures and functions including "Point & Click", "Scroll & Zoom", and "More Gestures" as the top menu categories.
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Point & Click Gestures for the Mac OS X Trackpad

  1. 1
    We are going to start with the first trackpad function under the "Point & Click" section, which is "Tap to click".
    Using this gesture you can simply tap the trackpad with one finger to select any option that you like. If you uncheck it then you'll need to tap with two fingers. We are going to leave one finger checked because that is what I am most comfortable with.
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  2. 2
    The next function you have is the option for a "Secondary Click".
    Windows users will know this as a "right-click". As you can see in the image on the right, we will use two fingers and press the trackpad to select a right-click option. However we can also set it so we can click on the bottom right corner of the trackpad with just one finger. This will gives us the same right-click function as two fingers did. Next we can choose to click the bottom left corner of the trackpad, giving us a right-click option on the left side. I'm going to set this option back on two fingers because that is what I am most comfortable with.
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  3. 3
    After this we have the "Look up" function.
    This allows us to use three fingers, and press the trackpad over a word. This gesture will give us the definition for what that word is.
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  4. 4
    The final gesture in this section is three-finger drag.
    I don't normally use this, however you may wish to enable the trackpad function for this. Using the three finger drag gesture, the active window on your screen can be drug and moved around, as you can see in the video on the right.
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  5. 5
    Finally, we've got a tracking speed which moves your mouse pointer from slow to fast.
    As you can see from the pop-up window, the instructions tell us to, "Drag the slider to set how fast you want the pointer to follow your finger."
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Scroll & Zoom Gestures for the Mac OS X Trackpad

  1. 1
    Next we are going to go to "Scroll & Zoom".
    Scroll and Zoom is where we find gestures and functions that allow us to control our scrolling options and our zooming options. As you can see in the first selection on the left, we have the "Scroll direction: natural" function selected. This means that scrolling down acts just as if our fingers were on a piece of paper and moving it down. Likewise moving our finger up moves the paper up. If we uncheck this function, then the trackpad gesture gives us the opposite effect. Some people prefer this. As I am most comfortable with natural scrolling, we are going to put this back on the natural setting.
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  2. 2
    Then we have the "Zoom in or out" function.
    With this, you can use a two finger gesture to zoom in, or you can use two fingers to zoom out. I find this to be a very helpful feature, so we are going to leave this enabled.
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  3. 3
    Following that we have "Smart zoom".
    Smart zoom allows you to double tap the trackpad with two fingers and zoom into a particular part of a page or a section that you would like to see.
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  4. 4
    The last trackpad gesture in this section is "Rotate".
    This lets you take an image in an active window, such as the image editor, and rotate it. If you want to see what an image or photo looks like before committing changes, it's a very simple and easy tool to work with. Plus, the built in features will allow it to snap automatically to different angles such as 45, 90, 180 degrees, et cetera.
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More Gestures for the Mac OS X Trackpad

  1. 1
    Now we'll go up to the "More Gestures" set of functions.
    These are additional gestures that you can use for different things on your Mac OS X. I use quite a few of these myself, so we will go through the list. "Swipe between pages" is a particularly helpful gesture if you are on web sites often. You can use a left or right gesture with two fingers and swipe through pages on your web browser. If you go down you can also select to swipe with three fingers. We can also set this to swipe with two or three fingers, which gives you either option. Enabling this function means you can swipe with a two finger gesture, or you can swipe with three fingers should you choose to do so. As I don't like to accidentally swipe through pages, I'm going to set that back to two fingers.
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  2. 2
    Next you can "Swipe between full-screen apps".
    This allows you to select from applications you currently have opened. For example you might have a web browser, a word processor, and an image editor open. This allows you to quickly cycle through each of these by using gestures with your hands. That means you don't have to move the mouse around too much, or open and close a number of Windows. As you can see we have the option to swipe right or left with four fingers which is currently selected, or we can set that function to three fingers. The system default is four fingers because obviously, as you saw earlier, you could swipe between web pages with three fingers if you used that setting. I'm going to go ahead and set this back to four fingers, because that is what I am most comfortable with.
    How to Use Trackpad Gestures and Functions on Mac OS X~canvas255 98854.jpg
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  3. 3
    After this we have the "Notification Center" trackpad gesture.
    The Notification Center is a panel on the right hand side of Mac OS X which lets you know if you have Facebook, Twitter, email, calendar, weather or other notifications that may come up. This simply allows you to swipe from the right edge to the left with two fingers, and bring up the Notification Center.
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  4. 4
    Then we have "Mission Control".
    Mission Control is basically a list of everything that's currently open in Mac OS X. I use this often, as it is a great way to see what's going on all at once. You can set this gesture to swipe up with three fingers, or swipe up with four fingers, as you can see in our video example at the end of this article. You will see four fingers swiping up, and then three fingers swiping up, as shown in the screen shot below.
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  5. 5
    Next, we have the "App Expose".
    I don't generally use this, as I am more a fan of Mission Control. However, this has a slightly different function, as it brings up all of the Windows in the currently selected app. If you work in many Windows at once, it is a useful function. You can select with three fingers or four fingers. I'm going to go ahead and set this back to the factory default, just in case I ever decide to use it.
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  6. 6
    Following this we have the "Launchpad" gestures.
    The OS X Launchpad is very much like the start button or option on Windows, where it brings up all of the programs you can select from. You control this function with hand gestures, by simply pinching with your thumb and three fingers. This will bring up the Launchpad.
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  7. 7
    Finally, we have the "Show Desktop" function.
    This lets you clear everything off of your screen and get right to your desktop. It's helpful if you want to open a file, or check something that you may have saved to the desktop without closing all of your other Windows.
    How to Use Trackpad Gestures and Functions on Mac OS X~canvas375 770213.jpg
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  8. 8
    That's it for our how-to video on Mac OS X trackpad functions and gestures.
    Thank you for watching VisiHow, and stay tuned for more great videos.
    How to Use Trackpad Gestures and Functions on Mac OS X~canvas386 146419.jpg
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Video: Use Trackpad Gestures and Functions on Mac OS X

The video below will show you how to use all of the trackpad functions and gestures available in Mac OS X.

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Categories : Apple

Recent edits by: Anonymous, Eng, VisiHow

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