How to Extend a Multi-Touch Trackpad With jitouch

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.

Gestures

Here is a quick run-down of the gestures I found most useful:

Switch Tabs

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:

  1. Tap quickly with three fingers.
  2. 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.

Minimize App

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.

Maximize Window

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.

Other Gestures

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.

Configuration

Although jitouch is incredibly simple, a few configuration options are available from the application preferences:

Preferences

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.

Conclusion

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!


  • http://www.macftw.com rickey

    The switching between tabs is amazing!

  • Kyahx

    I’ve used jitouch in the past and, while cool, BetterTouchTool has come a long way and is in my opinion vastly superior.

    It can handle the mighty mouse AND the trackpad, and is free.

    http://blog.boastr.net/

  • http://dev4stat1on.deviantart.com Deva

    I think it would be nice to have a comparison between the two.

  • http://www.fairheadcreative.co.uk Adam Fairhead

    It’ll be interesting to see if they extend this functionality to touch tablets too :)

  • zenitraM

    Version 2 is out – with some major customization features :D

  • http://www.danielgolden.net/ Daniel Golden

    Wow, now that’s an application and a half.

  • David D.

    I bought jitouch a few weeks ago before 2.0, and I really like it. 2.0 brings awesome customization features. (You can have custom swipes for different keyboard shortcuts for specific apps.) Here’s a screenshot of some of my custom gestures: http://bit.ly/83hw84

    • George

      Hi David,

      I just read your post after I posted my question. Thanks for the screenshot. So, actually, one can also have it function just for the m mouse.

      cheers,
      George

      • David D.

        Yep. I don’t have a magic mouse, but here’s a screenshot of the Might Mouse tab window incase you or anybody else was wondering. It is nice that it shows a little animation on how to do the gestures. Also, you said something about the top menu, which I think you mean is the menubar icons? If so, you can hide the menubar icon if you want.

        Pic: http://bit.ly/5Tz8st

  • http://tufuga.net Devin

    BetterTouchTool is incredible! no comparison!

  • http://www.grapicriver.net/user/oreius Tanner

    That is so amazing. I wish I had a trackpad

  • http://www.graphicriver.net/user/klanda Elliot

    Superb. I love this little bit of kit. Just hope I can remember all the gestures! Keep it simple I say!

  • George

    This looks really cool, thanks for the link!

    It says it’s for laptops, but can it also be used on a desktop in view of the new magic mouse?

    also, can the top menu be deactivated for laptops cauz the 15″ screen is not that big?

  • Raj Shah

    Are there any limitations for not buying it? I haven’t found any so far.

    Can someone email me at shadowstealerhelloATyahooDOTcom ?

    No spam please..

    Thanks!

    • Miguel Félix

      Hi, Raj Shah

      Yes, there is. You don’t loose functionalities, but after a few gestures you will be presented with a window inviting you to buy a licence. Each time this window opens, you will have to reactivate the application via system preferences.

      I only tried jitouch to see how it works selecting previous/next tab in Safari. Although it seems a good application and it is configurable, I still prefer MultiClutch, which is free and works great under Snow Leopard, with Safari’s 32-bit mode. I only defined swipe down/up to tab navigation and I have found that it’s a better option to my hands than the suggested gesture by jitouch.

      If there are more alternatives besides jitouch, BetterTouchTool and MultiClutch, I will be glad to know. :)

      • Raj Shah

        Hmm… I have been using it for over a day now and no windows has popped up nor has it been limited in any way.

  • C.44

    Is there an app for the iPhone that turns it into a trackpad for your mac ?

    • David D.

      Yes, there are a few. I don’t have any, but I hear Airmouse is quite good. Link: http://bit.ly/60jD2J

      • Raj Shah

        AirMouse is the best. I have it and can vouch for it.

      • Zanthie

        I really want to use my iPhone as a mouse at work, but I dont have access to my macs bluetooth or WiFi … is there a way that I can access this feature using just the supplied usb/data cable?

        Or do I just have to suck it up and buy a magic mouse?
        z.xoxo

  • http://www.totushi.com totushi

    the seems great… i use multiclutch all the time works great for me, plus its free!!!

  • Rollo

    Another vote for BetterTouchTool.
    http://blog.boastr.net/

  • http://www.trishacupra.com Trisha Cupra

    I also love BetterTouchTool and it’s completely free. It made getting a Magic Mouse more than worthwhile. Without BTT, I don’t even have a middle click. Come on, Apple – even the Mighty Mouse had middle click and the side ‘squeeze’ buttons!

  • http://pinoyteens.net Kevin Paquet

    This application sucks. It rendered my Macbook Pro totally unusable. After around the tenth time that the annoying get a license pop up came up, I couldn’t do anything neither with the trackpad or the mouse. Every time I’d tap the trackpad or click with the mouse, a new annoying pop up (the same) would come up, over and over and over again. Very inconvenient, especially with the fact that I was working that time and HAD TO REBOOT TO MAKE MY MAC USABLE AGAIN, and thankfully it really helped.

    I wanted to purchase a license right a couple of hours after I’ve used it last night, but I couldn’t because paypal said the merchant can’t receive any payment right now. After this annoying uncomfortable experience, I would’ve and I have changed my mind anyways, so I don’t mind. Better Touch Tool gets another vote for me.

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  • http://www.martinvaresio.com.ar/tecnicas.html Martin

    because paypal said the merchant can’t receive any payment right now. After this annoying uncomfortable experience

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  • Vrish

    Jitouch is super awesome . Better touch tool turned out to be too buggy for my 2012 mac( safari oinch zoom alaways used to crash with bettertouchtool) but ji touch is not only not buggy but also its chareacters feature is its USP . Unfortunately , the developers paypal account isnt accepting money so i cant buy it and the trial software keeps on getting suspended to insisit on being bought . Damn !

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