One of Apple’s biggest innovations recently has been multi-touch gestures and here’s all you need to know if you have a MacBook or a Magic Trackpad.
Scroll on a Mac
Bunch two fingers together and slide them over the surface of the trackpad to scroll. This is similar to using the wheel of a mouse but on a Mac you can scroll in any direction -- useful in iPhoto, for example, where you can use the scrolling gesture to pan around an image after zooming in.
Navigate on a Mac
Rapidly brushing two or more fingers across the trackpad is known as swiping. Swiping right with two fingers in Safari is like clicking the back button. This also works in other apps that have back/forward buttons, like the App Store. Swiping left with two fingers is like clicking the forward button.
Swiping left or right with three fingers will switch between desktop spaces and any full-screen apps you have open.
Zoom on a Mac
By bunching a finger and thumb together, and then slowly expanding them apart, you can zoom within certain apps, like Safari, Preview and iPhoto. This is known as the pinch gesture, and by bringing the thumb and finger together you will zoom out.
Double-tapping on the trackpad with two fingers bunched together will also zoom within apps like Safari, just like double-tapping on an iPad or iPhone screen. Repeating the tap will zoom out again.
Rotate on a Mac
By twisting a finger and thumb around each other you can rotate items in apps like Preview and iPhoto, although only 90 degrees each time. To rotate 180 degrees you’d have to rotate once, then repeat the gesture to rotate a second time.
Mission Control and Exposé
By swiping up with three fingers and you’ll activate Mission Control. Swipe down again to cancel it.
By ticking the box under the More Gestures tab in Trackpad’s System Preferences, you can swipe down with three fingers to activate App Exposé. This will show just the program windows of the top-most app, as well as a list of recently accessed files.
To open Launchpad, place a thumb and three fingers apart from each other on the trackpad and then pinch them together. Reverse to cancel Launchpad.
To instantly push all app windows to the edge of the screen in order to reveal the desktop, start with the thumb and three fingers pinched together, then flick them apart. Reverse the gesture to restore the app windows.
Pro tip: Three finger drag
In the Point & Click section of Trackpad’s System Preferences you can activate Three Finger Drag. This means that tapping dragging with three fingers emulates dragging items with a single click. You can select text by simply tapping and dragging with three fingers within a paragraph, for example, or move a window by tapping and dragging its titlebar with three fingers (windows can also be ‘flicked’ across the screen by grabbing the titlebar with three fingers, then flicking with two while keeping one finger on the trackpad; windows glide like a hockey puck on ice<***trackpad.m4v>).
Other Mac gestures
Tapping once with two fingers will right-click at the mouse cursor position. Tapping three fingers on the trackpad when the mouse cursor is over a word will show a pop-up dictionary definition in many apps. When the mouse cursor is hovering over a file, tapping three fingers will Quick Look that file, showing a preview of its contents.
Swiping in from the right of the trackpad with two fingers will reveal the notification center. Swipe back again to hide it.