A Beginner’s Guide to the Mac Trackpad

New Mac users who have trackpads may not realize how many gestures there are and how you can customize them. In System Preferences you can not only control which gestures are available, but customize some and see demonstrations of all of them. As a new Mac user you may want to take the time to familiarize yourself with the trackpad gestures to increase your productivity.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: A Beginner’s Guide to the Mac Trackpad.

So if you're new to Mac and you have a Mac with a trackpad which would include all of the MacBooks and any desktop Mac bought with the magic trackpad rather than the mouse then you may not yet be familiar with all the different options that you have with your trackpad.

It's pretty easy to find them. You just need to go into System Preferences. In System Preferences if you click on Trackpad you get three sets of settings and all sorts of different controls plus little tutorial videos for whatever you have selected. So for instance if I move my cursor here over Secondary click I'll see an example, here on the right, of what the secondary click looks like. Now this is probably the most common setting that you want to look at. Secondary click, which is what windows users call a right click, is used all the time. You can set it up to be a tap with two fingers, a click in the bottom right corner, or a click in the bottom left corner of your trackpad.

But there's tons of other settings as well. You should look through them all. For instance, you can set Tap to click which if you have it turned on means you can just tap with one finger. If I turn it off that means I actually have to press down on my trackpad.

Now a lot of these are going to be different depending upon which trackpad you've got. There are a couple versions of the magic trackpad and, of course, the trackpad has evolved over the years on the MacBooks. So, for instance, here with my older magic trackpad on my Mac Pro these are the settings that I have. Now you can see here on my MacBook Pro it has more settings. For instance I can set the amount of firmness needed for a click on the trackpad. I also have the haptic feedback. The little vibration that you feel when you click. I can turn that on and off. So depending upon which one you've got you're going to get slightly different videos here and you can have slightly different options here on the left.

Then take a look at some of the other options. For instance, under Scroll & Zoom, for my trackpad, I have the ability to turn on and off rotation. Zooming in and out with two fingers. Sometimes you want to turn some of these off if they get in the way. If you find that the way that you rest your hand or move your fingers in certain apps that you use kind of triggers these and you really rarely would ever use them anyway then you might want to turn them off. Other people might use these all the time so you might want to make sure they're on.

Under More Gestures you going to get a whole list of things, and again it will depend upon which Mac and which trackpad that you have. But you should look through them. Some of them have the ability to choose different ways to trigger them. Some of them just have basically on and off switches you can turn on and off. But even if you're not going to change the settings in any way, it is interesting to actually look at the videos and see how each one of these is done.

The trackpad is one of the primary ways, besides the keyboard, that you interact with your Mac. So learning how to control it can really improve your workflow and productivity on your Mac. It's well worth the time to take five or ten minutes to go through all of the different gestures that you can use and maybe even practice them a little.