5 Apps to Enhance Your Trackpad & Magic Mouse

Your MacBook trackpad (and the back of that fancy new Magic Mouse) is a blank slate. It’s simple, sleek, and elegant. The functionality of these pieces of gadgetry has gradually improved with every release, and recent “multi touch” capability has made your trackpad far more useful.

In fact, the ability to track multiple touches and swipes isn’t really used to its full potential by default. There are plenty of applications and utilities that can really boost the functionality of your trackpad and Magic Mouse – today we’ll be looking at a selection!

Magic Prefs

Magic Prefs

MagicPrefs

A completely free solution, MagicPrefs sits in your System Preferences and Menu Bar. You can bind all types of gestures to different actions, and it’s very versatile in just exactly how you can set it up.

If you’re not satisfied with tracking speed, it can be increased by up to 200% using MagicPrefs. The interface is fairly friendly and easy-to-understand, but you might need to experiment a little to find the perfect setup.

Price: Free
Requirements: OS X 10.5 or later

JiTouch

JiTouch

JiTouch

JiTouch has been reviewed in-depth previously on the site, and we really liked it! Since then, it’s been significantly improved with much better support for the Magic Mouse. The instructions and graphics showing how the app works are second to none.

Latest features in the new version include completely customisable actions, gestures based on alphanumeric characters, the ability to flick between Spaces in OS X, and quick tab switching. I’m a big fan of this solution, and use it daily.

Price: $5.99
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5 or 10.6

Mouse Wizard

Mouse Wizard

MouseWizard

A pretty, well thought-out interface and live examples of how gestures work make MouseWizard a solid option to try out. You can give your Magic Mouse six extra buttons, ‘pinch’, ‘bloat’ and ‘tap to click’ trackpad gestures, and special features such as ‘coverup’ to make your Mac go to sleep.

This is a great application for those of you who need a fairly simple solution, and won’t want to wade through all manner of advanced settings.

Price: $5.00
Requirements: Mac OS X 10.5

BetterTouchTool

BetterTouchTool

BetterTouchTool

Based on MultiClutch (see below), BetterTouchTool has taken the reigns and continued development further. The interface takes a little getting used to, but there’s no shortage of powerful features. Custom gestures make it easy to set a range of advanced responses to different swipes and taps.

You can also activate window snapping (similar to that found in Windows 7), adjust tracking speed, and change almost every aspect of how your Magic Mouse or Trackpad behave. Very powerful for a free solution.

Price: Free
Requirements: OS X 10.5 or later

Multiclutch

Multiclutch

Multiclutch

We’ve actually reviewed Multiclutch in some detail on a previous occasion – this is the best place to start for a full overview of the app.

It’s relatively basic compared to a few of the other applications featured here, and development seems to have slowed down in recent months. Still worth considering as a free solution, though the developer warns that you should have a backup before installing…

Price: Free
Requirements: OS X 10.5 or later

Share Your Own Apps

Are there any other applications you use for enhancing the functionality of your trackpad, mouse, or Mac in general? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!


  • http://asia.cnet.com/blogs/sinobytes/ SirSteven

    I’ve been using Smart Scroll for a few months. I mainly just wanted the iPhone-style inertia/momentum scrolling for my MB’s trackpad, which that app does perfectly.

    If I were to use MultiClutch with Snow Leopard on my very early MacBook – which doesn’t have true multi-touch; just two-finger scrolling – would it enable three finger swipes and other gestures? Or is that technically impossible on the oldest MB’s?

    • minku

      unfortunately not :-( none of those apps can do that.

      • http://loosestitch.com Arpan Dhandhania

        The only solution that I can think of is to get a Magic Mouse.

  • M_Michal

    BetterTouchTool is the best app :)

  • nimzo

    BetterTouchTool. Don’t bother about the rest.

  • http://www.marquismosley.com Marquis Mosley

    BetterTouchTool!!!!

    • minku

      second that!

  • Dan Doolittle

    BetterTouchTool?

  • http://thisaintnarnia.com Andrew Littler

    Hurm… neither Mutli Touch, nor BTT seem to work on my old, plastic MacBook – am I just doing something wrong?

    • mike cerisano

      Your old plastic macbook does not support multitouch gestures.

      • Pablo

        That’s the weird part:
        the old touchpads of the plastic macbooks have 2-finger scrolling ability, my late 2006 MB running 10.7.5 even supports the 2-finger page switching gesture in launchpad. Why shouldn’t you be able to use that same gesture to switch between spaces?

  • inket

    Jitouch is good.

  • linker

    isn’t really used to it’s full potential

    it’s should be its.

    • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

      It should indeed! Fixed :)

  • linker

    (Darn, blockquote tags don’t work… it should have looked like this):

    “…isn’t really used to it’s full potential…”

    it’s should be its

  • http://twitter.com/lprunk Leonardo Prunk

    For beauty, interface and usability I would go for Jitouch, but I still prefer BetterTouchTool when you get used to it… and it’s free =)

  • Duffyduck

    Have been using JiTouch for a few months now. It’s bloody awesome. Easy to use and works very well. Highly recommend it. $5.99 well worth its money!

  • http://twitter.com/turkchgo turkchgo

    Lots of support for Better Touch Tool but for it’s complexity I’m surprised it doesn’t come with any default settings. It’s really a blank slate and quite confusing. The only use community I found with it where settings files can be shared only has one submission.

    It looks great but would take hours to setup.

  • Blair

    Talk about timing for an article :D My boss is upgrading my 3yr old 24″ iMac to a new 27″ this week, and of course it will come with a new Magic Mouse. Will be sure to check out one or two of these options.

    Thanks again guys, LOVE THIS SITE.

    • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

      Glad you like it, Blair. Thanks for the kind words! Hope you enjoy your new Mac :)

  • Paulo

    JiTouch for me. I tried BTT but found that I could have spent a whole day setting it up and then more time tweaking it. BTT is great if you have the time but JiTouch just works out of the box. 5 mins to get to grips with the gestures and you’re away.

  • Scott

    Because I enjoyed using SteerMouse, I’m using a preference by the same developer, MagicDriver. http://plentycom.jp/en/magicdriver/ It’s still in beta and the UI is a little rough like SteerMouse. But, after trying out a couple alternatives, I find this one easy to set up. The importance for me lays not only with mouse gestures, but cursor sensitivity. I find with other Magic Mouse prefs/apps, they only add adjustment for higher tracking speed and not sensitivity. Using Apple’s default sensitivity (even with gel wrist supported mouse pad), I find my wrist grows very fatigue and uncomfortable after hours of work. Therefore, a higher sensitivity speed is absolutely necessary. It’s worth a try if you don’t need hardcore gesture customization, but something very practical.

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  • Samuel

    Wow, MagicPrefs works like a charm! Just what I needed.
    Thnx 2 this website I know now this exists.

    Keep up the good job, this website definitely goes in my bookmarks!
    (my compliments for the webdesign, love the look, controls and feel)

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  • CC

    Thanks for the comparison! I haven’t tried all of them but so far I like MagicPrefs.

    One correction: BetterTouchTool requires 10.6, not 10.5.

  • http://blogmartinvaresio.com.ar Martin

    I find this one easy to set up. The importance for me lays not only with mouse gestures, but cursor sensitivity. I find with other Magic

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  • http://www.worldstage.nl Hans Waasdorp

    Tried all of them….and none of them has decent features for one finger
    operation. I just want to adjust tap sensitivity and use tapping instead of
    clicking……seems to be too much to ask for…

  • Techie

    I LOVE MagicPrefs. it was designed from MultiClutch, but is simpler, easier to use, and integrates with BetterTouchTool. both are great…and great together. I got my MAgic Mouse, and was disappointed to see not even a full window of option in default. I immediately looked for tools, finding both. I am now satisfied. :D

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  • Jelle

    Hi,

    Say I wanted to only have an autoscroll function, wich free tool would use up the least system resources, has the smallest memory footprint?

    Thx.

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    Whoa! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on a entirely different topic but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Superb choice of colors!

  • Shannon

    I love BetterTouchTool! Thanks for the recommendations! :)

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