When you buy a new iMac you will need to choose between the Magic Mouse and the Magic Trackpad. Which one is better? While it is somewhat a matter of personal preference, the trackpad has several advantages over the mouse that you may want to consider before making your decision.



Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost Now. On today’s episode let’s talk about deciding whether to get one of these or one of these.

So you are about to purchase a new iMac. You’re scrolling through the options considering different things you can get with it and you notice, of course, that you can choose between a Magic Mouse or a Magic Trackpad. Now they are the same price so which one should you get.

Now there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. Your first instinct may be to go with the Magic Mouse because perhaps you have used mice all the time and you don’t want to switch. But you should seriously look at the Magic Trackpad as a good alternative.

I’ve got both connected to this Mac right here. We can go into System Preferences and there is a Mouse and Trackpad pane. I can go into each one and see some of the gestures and options offered.

So I can see for instance here for a Magic Mouse that I’ve got point and click controls for scrolling. You can scroll across the top of the Magic Mouse. You can also secondary click and decide whether or not that is on the right or left side since it is just a touch surface you can basically think of it as a two button mouse even though you can actually touch any part of the surface you want. You can Smart Zoom double-tap with one finger. You also get more gestures in here where you can swipe between pages. You can swipe between full screen apps and you can activate Mission Control.

But that is it as far as Gestures are concerned on the Magic Mouse.

Now on the Magic Trackpad you get much more. You’ve got point and click things. Even three finger drag. You’ve got Scroll and Zoom gestures and you even have this whole section here of more gestures with all sorts of different things that you have. So it is a full set of Gestures. This is actually the same set of gestures you would get if you bought a new Mac Book Pro which of course has Trackpad built in.

Now there are other differences as well. Of course ergonomically they are very different. The Mouse is something you hold in your hand and you need space on your desk to move around. So you are actually moving your arm as you control the Mouse and the cursor on your screen.

The Magic Trackpad on the other hand stays in the same place on your desk. So you are not actually moving your arm you are just barely moving your fingers across the top of it. This is the same thing, as I said, with the Mac Book Pro. So it is a little bit different in the ergonomics and also how you use your desktop space. You are going to need some sort of pad for the Magic Mouse to be on depending upon the surface of your desk and what that is like and just some space to move the mouse on. Whereas the Trackpad always stays in exactly one spot and never moves.

They both take two AA batteries and you can use rechargeables in there like the ones Apples sells. So there really is no advantage or disadvantage for each one over battery power.

One thing I really like about using a Magic Trackpad is that it is the same on my Mac Book Pro as it is on my desktop Mac. So I don’t have to switch pointer devices. Not one minute using a mouse and the next minute using a Trackpad.

Also, there are some hints that this is the future. Consider first of all that 60% of all Macs sold are laptops. So most Macs actually use a Trackpad. The Magic Trackpad has been fairly successful. In fact PC manufacturers are now starting to offer it as an option to have a static trackpad that sits next to your keyboard.

So it may be that the Mouse is on the way out and Trackpads are the way of the future.

I also find the Trackpad to be a little more accurate with the way that I use a cursor. So I can just barely brush the top of it and move over a few pixels whereas with the mouse I move an entire device to move the cursor. I find that I can’t get quite as much precision. Now other people may disagree and find the opposite.

One thing to note about the Magic Trackpad is it doesn’t do something a lot of people thing it should do. It is that you can’t hold it like this and actually click on it. I can move the cursor around it just fine but clicking on it does not work. The reason is that you are actually clicking the surface down so it needs to be on a flat hard surface, like a desk, in order for the clicking motion to work.

So for me the advantages of the Magic Trackpad are many more Gestures to choose from, the full set. It is the same as what Mac Book Pro’s use so it is what a majority of Mac users are using and it stays at a single spot on your desk and doesn’t require you to move your arm around as much.

The advantages of the Mouse are if you are used to using the mouse then this will probably be a better device and you won’t have to get used to using something new.

So if you ask my opinion I go with the Magic Trackpad. It’s what I use and I think it has a lot of advantages. So when somebody asks me which one they should get I say go with the Magic Trackpad.

So that is my opinion on choosing between the two. I would love to hear your opinion. You can leave a comment on this video at the MacMost website.

Until next time this is Gary with MacMost Now.


28 Responses to “MacMost Now 775: Mouse Or Trackpad?”

  1. Suhas says:

    Gary…..love what you have done to help others with Apple products. I always hated Apple computers mainly because of their high price, but the first time I used the trackpad on MacBook Pro it made me switch. Now I have MacBook Pro and getting iMac as soon as new one comes out.

    The reason I’m commenting is that if you have used a software called Jitouch, please please try it out. It makes the using Trackpad way more better. I’m surprised its not that popular in the Apple community. Please check it out and maybe do a video on it.

    • I actually did a video on Jitouch a long time ago, when the Magic Mouse first came out. I think that some people like to have lots of custom gestures, but for most the few basic ones are enough.

    • Robert says:

      Very similar to my experience as I recently switched from PC about 5 months ago. I hesitated buying a trackpad for my iMac but would never go back (to PC or magic mouse)

  2. J Ryan says:

    For me, it’s the magic mouse. I can even use it for gaming whereas a trackpad is just not practical for that. A trackpad would make more sense for a compact device however.

    I use a magic mouse with my 2010 iMac along with Better Touch Tool to add a gesture to open/close notification centre and one to bring up launchpad. I don’t need any more gestures than the ones I currently have.

  3. Kika Wai'Alae says:

    I have a magic mouse that I use while reclining on my easy chair watching eyetv on my iMac etc. I use both the track pad but mostly my corded mouse while at my desk. I like the portability of the track pad and magic mouse so thumbs up on both of them.

  4. T Kearney says:

    For me it’s the trackpad. It takes some getting used to, but after awhile its second nature. It also mirrors some gestures from the iPhone and iPad.

    My PC died January 1, 2012 and I knew I wanted to get an iMac. I couldn’t decide on the magic mouse or the trackpad. After asking around, the majority of my friends told me to get the trackpad. I’m glad I did!

  5. James says:

    Thanks Gary I prefer magic trackpad over mouse anyday.
    One thing though you mentioned you cannot hold it in the hand but you can. I noted in your system preferences that you do not have tap turned on (first pane) just turn it on and tap is the same as a click so no need to physically click.

    Also my 7 year old daughter showed me how to click and drag things without using two hands (as I do) by clicking and then holding enough pressure to keep it clicked while you drag the selection wherever.

  6. Tom says:

    My iMac came with the magic mouse which I found to work fine, but as soon as the trackpad came out I bought one. love the trackpad but keep the mouse nearby for working on things that are critical so that I don’t click on something I will regret. I find the trackpad tap is too sensitive, I wish they would make the sensitivity adjustable. I know I could always turn it off but it works for most things just fine.
    Friends tell me that the trackpad on Macbooks is not as sensitive, is this true Gary?
    Thanks for all the videos you give us, they are extremely helpful for us PC converts.

    • Well, I suppose because the Magic Trackpad is physically larger, that it has to be more sensitive. Even if the per-inch sensitivity is the same, a larger area wins.

  7. Phil says:

    The TrackPad rules! When I have to revert to using Mice on Windows machines, I find them so retro and awkward…

  8. Robert Dente says:

    I like to draw with a mouse because I like the somewhat primitive mouse response; so how is drawing accomplished in an application like Corel Painter, for example—other than using a A Wacom tablet?

  9. Douglas says:

    Gary, have had a Trackpad for about a year now and will not go back. Won’t go back to a mouse again.

  10. Tony says:

    Chose the track pad when I got my newest Mac two years ago. Difficult to learn at first particularly when I was editing single words and such in documents. Now I would not be without it. Makes a big difference when I switch back and forth between using trackpad on Macbook and desktop computer. Same basic operations.

  11. Christian says:

    I really love my Trackpad! Most of my Friends say “I hate the touchpad of my Notebook, so I even there need a mouse” – No need to say that these are all NOT MacBook users. If they try my Trackpad they say: “Such a Trackpad would be great when build into me notebook!”
    What is the conclusion: Apple make the best Trackpads!

  12. John A. Chen says:

    Another distinguished benefit of using a trackpad is that it allows me to write Chinese or other Asian language characters for input.

  13. utah62 says:

    Thanks for this video. What about editing? i Use iMovie a lot and wonder if a tp is easier to work with than the mm?

  14. David says:

    I got both. Use mouse 90% of the time; use them both in Aperture depending on what I’m doing. I use mouse to drag and drop because I can’t coordinate that on my trackpad as easily. Trackpad can also launch LaunchPad with the 4-finger pinch, which I use a lot. So both are sitting on my (large) desk, side by side.

    Side note: both of these devices turn off when you turn off your machine. If you keep your machine on, say for long backups, your mouse/trackpad also stay on, and so you may want to turn them off to save battery life if you are leaving your machine on for long periods of time.

  15. James says:

    I left a note but it is not here?
    I just wanted to say you can use magic trackpad in your hand
    Just turn on tap in preferences so tapping is like clicking then you can single or double tap or two finger tap and do most things

    • Simon says:

      Does the trackpad incorporated into a macbook have exactly the same functionality as the magic trackpad ?

      • Basically, yes. The Magic Trackpad is larger than the one on the MacBook, giving you finer control. And older MacBooks lack the multitouch functionality (several years old at this point).

  16. Simon says:

    I was going to say I guess a Magic Mouse is more portable than a Magic Trackpad, and therefore probably best for older macbooks which lack multitouch functionality.

    I guess if finances would allow buy both, and then you have the best of both worlds for whatever or wherever you maybe using them

  17. Eric says:

    The trackpad really enables you to get the most out of your Mac. Today’s operating system is designed with gestures in mind; if you use a mouse, it’s sort of like buying a Ferrari… with automatic drive, and driving it around your block at 30 MPH.

  18. joe says:

    its not totally true that you cant use the trackpad holding in your hand, you can acitivate in the options that you can just tap the trackpad surface too.

  19. Greg says:

    One thing to keep in mind, you can’t use the trackpad for video games if you play any on your mac. Although the magic mouse is pretty useless for gaming as well. I’d recommend the trackpad and buying a mouse not made by apple if you need it.
    I’ve never been able to stand the apple mouse of any generation. I find a mouse to be more precise and quicker than a trackpad with two physical buttons. The current mouse feels less precise than the trackpad, and you don’t get as many gestures.

  20. Doug Harter says:

    Gary Im new to the mac world and like you said..I wasn’t sure which I would use the most….so I got them both and although I use the mouse MOSTLY I am learning to use the trackpad and liking it more daily…thanks

Comments Closed.

Comments have been closed on this post as it is getting a bit old. If you would like to ask a new question, simply visit the MacMost Q&A Forum.