I recently purchased a MacBook Air. Yes, yes… I know we rated it at three stars. My irresponsible purchase does not affect Macworld's overall rating (which we stand by).
My justification is that the MacBook Air is a perfect choice for a small, select group of people who need a reasonable amount of power, and a lot of portability. I've decided that I'm one of them.
So, having thrown down a silly amount of money (and having to eat Weetabix with water for breakfast, and Tesco-value cheese with Tesco-value bread to make a Tesco-value sandwich for dinner; from now until next pay-day and beyond), I've found myself with a lot of spare time to discover the delights of the MacBook Air.
One of which, and it's one which doesn't really become apparent until you invest some time in it, is the Multi Touch trackpad.
I've always been a fan of two-finger tracking on the MacBook, where you can scan up and down a document with two fingers on the trackpad. I especially like doing this while surfing web pages. This two-fingered gesture has now been joined with the extra joy of swooshing left with three fingers to go back a page (or swooshing right to forward).
The three-fingered gesture enables you to swoosh between documents and pages with ease on a Multi Touch enabled MacBook Air or MacBook Pro
However, I'm at a loss to find it of any use in any other program. Zooming in and out by pinching in Preview is moderately useful, I suppose. iTunes uses the swoosh for Cover Flow view, but because I've never personally taken to Cover Flow I find this an irrelevance. The two-finger rotate feature in iPhoto would be useful if I stored any pictures on the MacBook Air, but I don't. The hard drive's too small and I just use the 'share' function on my main Mac to browse them remotely.
But I can imagine uses for it. The three-finger 'swoosh' could be a superb in the Finder for navigating different Spaces (just sweep your hand up, down, left or right). Pinching in and out could work well with Exposes, or the Dashboard, which has an in-and-out animation effect.
Fortunately a programmer called Will Henderson thinks the same way, and has developed a program called MultiClutch which is currently in beta.
MultiClutch is a preference pane for System Preferences and enables you to attach keyboard shortcuts to Multi Touch gestures. These can be global shortcuts, or program specific; and you can add any shortcut for the Swipe, Rotate and Zoom functions.
I'm busy hacking shortcut keys for all the different applications and adding custom shortcuts for whatever I want. I'm sure Apple will come up with some more innovating uses for Multi Touch in the future, but for now MultiClutch enables you to realise these ideas today.
Thanks to Dan Frakes, who's blog alerted me to MultiClutch. He has some suggestions for MultiClutch over on the Macworld.com website.