Getting the Most Out of Your Trackpad

Post date: Oct 13, 2011 3:55:08 PM

Basic one-finger feature

Tap to Click: Probably the most underrated of all trackpad options is tap to click. When it is enabled,a single tap on the trackpad acts as a mouse click.

This allows you to easily make selections without changing your hand position. Simply move the cursor over the item you want to select or button that you want to click, and tap your finger.

Two-finger functions

Two-finger scrolling: When this option is enabled, placing two fingers on the trackpad and moving them across the trackpad simultaneously simulates a scroll wheel on a mouse: The active window scrolls as if you were using the scroll bar.

The trackpad’s two-finger scrolling is omnidirectional, so you can scroll up and down as well as left to right.

Secondary click: No less useful is the two-fingered secondary click option. Windows users are used to right-click with a two-button mouse or trackpad to see options in a contextual menu. This two-fingered click will activate the right-click menu options.

Some extra trackpad tidbits

Screen zooming: This option, which can also be used with a mouse, lets you hold down a modifier key (by default the control key) while swiping you hand up or down on the trackpad to zoom the entire display in or out. This can be a handy way of getting a closer look at images or hard to read text without resetting your display’s resolution.

In addition to changing the modifier key, you can specify when the feature is available and whether to smooth the edges of images and text while zooming.

Ignore accidental trackpad input: It isn’t uncommon for notebooks users to accidentally brush the trackpad with a palm, wrist or forearm while typing. Typically, this places the cursor somewhere else on-screen (such as an entirely different application) or selects text in the wrong part of the document.

This option tells the Mac to ignore any input from the trackpad at the same time that keys are being pressed (other than special modifier keys), thus ensuring that the cursor stays in place when you’re typing.

Ignore trackpad when mouse is present: This does exactly what it implies: ignores any trackpad input if a mouse or other pointing device is attached to a Mac notebook. This prevents accidental input if you brush the trackpad with your hand or arm.

Finally, don’t forget to adjust the speeds required for the cursor tracking, double-clicking and, on machines that support it, two-fingered scrolling.

How to set your preferences:

Select your System Preferences from the Apple menu in the top left corner of your screen.

Locate and click on the Trackpad icon.

Make the selections to your Trackpad preferences. You may decide to return and modify these as you experience the changes to your settings.