Top Mac Trackpad Gestures to Save Your Time

If you own a Mac, then you’ll know that you have access to a ton of shortcuts. This is especially helpful for creative processes when using apps for video editing and switching between apps with ease. However, you may not know that you can use your Mac’s Trackpad to save even more of your time. With the ‘gestures’, you can use your fingers on your Trackpad to speed things up even more.

Whilst most Macs have a built-in Trackpad, you can also purchase separate Trackpads if you want a larger surface to work on. The Magic Trackpad 2 is the latest and greatest in touch technology from Apple.

  Price Size Weight Ports Features
Magic Trackpad 2 $129 H: 0.19-0.43 inches W: 6.3 inch 0.51 lbs Bluetooth Wireless Lightning Force touch Multi-touch

The benefits of the Mac Trackpad;

  • Save more time
  • Customizable
  • Uses force detection to simulate clicking (Magic Trackpad 2)
  • Large surface
  • More gestures available than the Magic Mouse

Apple’s Magic Mouse also supports gestures but it’s worth pointing out that you have a smaller surface area to work on and thus it’s overall not as good as the larger Trackpad 2 for gestures.

Let’s look at the top gestures to save your time on the Mac Trackpads.

1. Tap to click

Mac Trackpad Gestures

‘Tap to click’ is very self-explanatory, to click something on your screen you need to use one finger on your Trackpad.

2. Secondary click

Mac Trackpad Gestures

The second way to click is to use two fingers and apply pressure to the Trackpad. This is more down to personal comfort as both single finger and double finger-clicking will do the same job.

3. Smart zoom

Mac Trackpad Gestures

Smart zoom can be activated by double-clicking with two fingers. This is especially useful for zooming in on an image or PDF file.

4. Scroll

Mac Trackpad Gestures

To scroll down a file or webpage you need to take your two fingers again and drag them down the Trackpad

5. Zoom

Mac Trackpad Gestures

Zooming in and out is much like you would do on your iPhone or iPad. Simply move your fingers together to zoom in or move them apart to zoom out.

6. Rotate

Mac Trackpad Gestures

To rotate an image or file, use your two fingers to apply a small amount of pressure to the Trackpad and twist your wrist in the direction you want to go whilst keeping your fingers stiff.

7. Swipe between pages

Mac Trackpad Gestures

Swipe between pages is very handy for quickly flipping through web pages if you have multiple tabs open. All you need to do is hold two fingers together and flip to the left or right.

8. Open Notification Center

To quickly open the Notification Center you need to swipe from the right side of the Trackpad all the way to the left.

9. Three finger drag

The three-finger drag allows you to pick up items on your screen and then drop them in a different place. This is useful when you need to drag files into different folders or move layers around in Photoshop.

10. Look up words and data

If you hold three fingers down on your Trackpad you can look up word definitions, addresses, and other useful information about a webpage.

10. See desktop

To quickly see your desktop and minimize any web pages or apps you have open, drag three fingers in the opposite direction to your thumb.

11. Swiping up with Three Fingers on Mac OS X Launches What?

Swiping up with three fingers is probably one of the most helpful Trackpad gestures. When you swipe up with three fingers you can open up Mission Control. With mission Control, you can see a birds-eye view of all the tabs and apps you have open making it incredibly easy to switch between them.

12. Move between full-screen apps

By dragging four fingers left or right you can switch between full-screen apps and the desktop.

Trackpad 2 compatibility

The great thing about the Trackpad 2 in particular is that it’s compatible with so many Macs as well as iPads.

iPad compatibility

  • iPad Models
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 9.7-inch
  • iPad Air (4th generation)
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)
  • iPad Air 2
  • iPad (8th generation)
  • iPad (7th generation)
  • iPad (6th generation)
  • iPad (5th generation)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad mini 4

Mac compatibility

  • MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
  • MacBook Air (Retina, 13-inch, 2020)
  • MacBook Air (Retina, 13-inch, 2018 – 2019)
  • MacBook Air (13-inch, Early 2015 – 2017)
  • MacBook Air (11-inch, Early 2015)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)
  • MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016 – 2019)
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2016 – 2019)
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2012 – 2015)
  • MacBook Pro (Retina, 15‑inch, Mid 2012 ‑ 2015)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015 – 2017)
  • iMac (24-inch, M1, 2021)
  • iMac (Retina 4K, 21.5-inch, 2019)
  • iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2019)
  • iMac (Retina 4K, 21.5-inch, 2017)
  • iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, 2017)
  • iMac (Retina 4K, 21.5-inch, Late 2015)
  • iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2014 – 2015)
  • iMac Pro (2017)
  • Mac Pro (2019)
  • Mac Pro (Late 2013)
  • Mac mini (M1, 2020)
  • Mac mini (2018)
  • Mac mini (Late 2014)
Categories Mac
About S. Santos

I am a tech columnist and blogger by trade, but I'm also an avid tennis player. In my spare time, I enjoy reviewing gadgets and gizmos from the world of tech. A lot has changed in the field since I started out as a writer back in 2009, so it's always exciting to keep up with all that's new. To me, there's nothing quite like getting my hands on a brand-new gadget or piece of software for the first time -- it's like Christmas morning every day!

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