Taking Gestures Further With MultiClutch

Apple first introduced the MacBook Air in 2008. Other than its thinness (and its ability to fit inside a manilla envelope) it brought a multi-touch trackpad, similar to the iPhone. Since then, the unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro have received the trackpad makeover. The trackpad seems very useful, and it is; when you are in a gesture-supported application. For me, my trackpad’s abilities fade into the background. Most of the apps I work in do not support them.

Until I discovered MultiClutch, a preference pane extension that lets you set up trackpad gestures for any application. In this tutorial I will show you the basics of setting up gestures in Multi Clutch, as well as some ideas for different uses.

The Basics

Multi Clutch works by installing a simple input manager that catches your gestures, and then inputs the keyboard shortcuts. Setting up a gesture is very easy.

Selecting an Application

Selecting an Application

Click on the small plus in the lower left corner. You will be prompted to select an application to enable gestures in.

Choosing a Gesture

Choosing a Gesture

Next, click on the arrows in the right of the first column. Choose which gesture you will be using.

Choosing a Shortcut

Choosing a Shortcut

Double click on the keyboard command. Now punch in your desired command.

That’s it! Easy right?

An Overview Of Gestures

  • Swipe; Three fingers on the trackpad, brush to the noted direction.
  • Rotate; Two fingers on the trackpad, move to the noted direction.
  • Zoom in; Two fingers on the trackpad spread apart, bring them together.
  • Zoom out; Two fingers together on the trackpad; push them apart.

Possible Uses For Multi Clutch

The suggestions are formated as follows: Action: Gesture: Command

Apple Mail and Mailplane

These instructions are for Mail and Mailplane, but can be translated into your mail app of choice.

  • Reply: Swipe Right – Command + R
  • Forward: Rotate Right – Command + Shift + F
  • New Message: Swipe Down – Command N
  • Send: Swipe Up – Command – Shift – D

Mailplane Only

  • Back to Overview: Zoom out: Command + [


  • Back: Swipe Left: Command + [
  • Forward: Swipe Right: Command + ]


  • Next Tab: Rotate Right: Control + Tab
  • Previous Tab: Rotate Left: Control + Shift + Tab

MultiClutch isn’t just for extending the ability of gestures in individual applications. It can be used system wide as well. For example, you could swipe for Quicksilver, Spotlight, or Google Quick Search. Combo gestures are included in MultiClutch also. Right now however there are only two:

  • Zoom in; Zoom out
  • Zoom out; Zoom in

For these to work they have to be in one, fluid motion.

MultiClutch is a great, free tool. It is perfect for expanding the abilities and range of your trackpad. MultiClutch is freely available and, though still in beta, the application runs smoothly and without hickups.


Add Yours
  • Looks like someone is having fun with LittleSnapper!

    haha :)

    Thanks for the post

  • Great post. Definitely an app I will try.

  • Firefox (at least 3.5) already supports the “forward” and “back” 3-finger gestures. You can also use 3 fingers to swipe to the top and bottom of the webpage that you viewing by swiping up and down, respectively.

    • I forgot to mention, the zoom gestures work as well in Firefox 3.5.

  • Don’t want to play the smartass here, but MultiClutch exists since 1 and a half year? Or at least since then I am using it … so nothing really new.

    Nevertheless absolute must-have. Thanks to MC, Multitouch is a great feature. Without this app, it would be almost completely useless.

    • I wasn’t trying to imply that it was new. I recently discovered it. Sorry if you got the wrong impression.

  • Because it uses an input manager I’m guessing this prefpane will render unusable with Snow Leopard.

  • I love multiclutch! Here’s how i’ve been using it with FireFox:

    Gesture – What it does – Key Command
    Rotate Left – move to the tab open to the left – Cmd Alt
    Swipe Down(three fingers down) – Closes Tab – Cmd W
    Swipe Up (three fingers up) – Opens new Tab – Cmd T
    Swipe Left (three left) – Back – Cmd
    Zoom In – Zooms in – Cmd =
    Zoom Out – Zooms out – Cmd –

  • In Safari 4.0 you should use cmd+shift+(left or right arrow) to change tabs if you want to assign tab switching. Otherwise switching the tab back will highlight the google search bar first, THEN switch to previous tab, if you use ctrl+shift+tab.

  • Had a question. Is it possible to use any (alt/option + tab) to change tabs in Opera? I tried inputting them but it doesn’t let me. Any way around this?

  • I cannot live without Multiclutch. I’ve just installed Snow Leopard and spend a few hours without it and it was hell! It’s surely hard to ad the commands (some of them I couldn’t find and I had to come back to this post) but in no time it’s saving you time again.