Apple’s introduction of Multi-Touch trackpads into their latest laptops was a huge step forward for notebook technology, making interacting with your Macbook far easier than ever before. One main criticism was the relatively small number of gestures available.
Although Apple did this to keep things simple for the average Mac user, the developers behind jitouch weren’t satisfied. This small utility opens up a whole new range of trackpad gestures, all of which we’ll be taking a look at today.
Setup and Installation
After downloading jitouch, you follow the standard procedure of placing it into your /Applications folder. It’s a menu bar utility, so doesn’t display in the Dock. Launching it doesn’t open anything spectacular, simply placing a new icon in your OS X menu bar.
That’s it! Your new system gestures are active, and available for use in various different applications.
Here is a quick run-down of the gestures I found most useful:
Place one finger on the trackpad then use another finger to tap on the trackpad next to the first finger. This is incredibly useful, and something that is really missing in Safari at present.
Once you’ve used the action a few times, it becomes second nature to fly through tabs with the trackpad.
Open Link in New Tab
Although I have my middle mouse button set to open a link in a new tab, there’s no way to easily do this from the trackpad at present. Now, you can either:
- Tap quickly with three fingers.
- Have one finger (index) on the trackpad and tap with any two fingers (middle and ring)
It’s very simple, and makes opening a link in a new tab very straight-forward.
The action to do this is to tap with index > middle > ring > pinky respectively, and once all four fingers are on the trackpad, quickly release them. Simple when you know how, but I can understand why Apple didn’t include gestures like this one by default!
This is sent to the window the mouse is currently over, not the active window, which can be a little confusing at first.
This one takes a similar format to impatiently tapping your fingers. You tap your pinky > ring > middle > index respectively, and once all four fingers are on the trackpad, quickly release them.
As above, this is sent to the window under your current cursor position.
Various other gestures are available, allowing you to:
- Move & Resize a Window (this worked intermittently for me)
- Close a Window or Tab
- Quit the Current App
The next version is also slated to include a gesture that quickly moves between spaces – something that would be very useful if that’s how you work.
A full list of gestures is available at the jitouch website.
Although jitouch is incredibly simple, a few configuration options are available from the application preferences:
Here, you can turn gesture support on or off completely, adjust the sensitivity and speed settings, or enable/disable individual gestures if you only use certain ones. If you’re left handed, it’s easy to swap the system around to cater for a different approach to the trackpad.
I’ve been thoroughly impressed with jitouch as a method for extending the capability of a MacBook’s trackpad. Although I understand why Apple have kept gestures simple to this point, it’s refreshing to see a developer take the lead and build something for power-users.
I can’t see my grandad getting to grips with using three fingers to open a link in a new tab, but it’s a real time-saver for me.
It would be wonderful to see these gestures also supported by the Magic Mouse (Edit: the latest version now supports this). Flicking through tabs would be a breeze, and I’d be able to enjoy the convenience whether using my MacBook’s trackpad, or a desktop setup with my mouse and keyboard.
What are your thoughts? Do you already use a different application to achieve a similar thing? I’d love to hear about it!