The Magic Trackpad – What can a windows do that a mac can’t? Right Click…. think again.

14 13.Nov.2012

The other day I asked my Boss if I could get myself a “Magic Trackpad” in replacement for a Mouse. As a partial-designer, this is quite an unusual request, but as a mostly-developer, I believe it makes sense. The Mouse has been around for as long as I have; or at least, for as long as I’ve used a computer. The concept hasn’t changed since the start, and there has been many alternatives such as ‘nipples’ and ‘rollers’, but I think the Magic Trackpad is the first one to come out that actually improves things.

Before I write this, I should let you know a few points. I’m an unashamed MacFag, I love Apple and their products; There is a biest there. Secondly, I’m a laptop user. If anywhere I lay my hat is my home, then anywhere I plugin my laptop is my office.

As I’m hoping to score me a Magic Trackpad from my boss out of this, who loves metrics, facts and figures.

Let’s take a look at the humble mouse.

A standard mouse, these days, can do the following :-

  • • Move the cursor along the X axis.
  • • Move the cursor along the Y axis.
  • • Click and Double Click in order to activate/highlight
  • • Secondary (Right) Click in order to bring up context menus.
  • • Scroll a page up
  • • Scroll a page down.
  • • Scroll-Click.

A standard mouse also requires a flat solid surface of approximately the size of an A4 sheet of paper, with the smaller that surface… the more you have to lift it up, move it into a central position, then put it back down.

For me, these decisions are subconscious, anyone who works with a computer doesn’t even have to think about it, but surely with all the technology that has happened over the last decades, there must be an improvement on it? I’m not talking about lasers, and people have added more buttons and left/right scrolling (which is generally terrible; used by clicking the scroll-wheel along).

So what about the Magic Trackpad

I’ll start out by saying what I wouldn’t use a Trackpad for. For gaming it is terrible, when it comes to clicking on moving objects, I just can’t get along with it. My boss won’t let me play Lollypop Chainsaw on client’s time anyway as apparently it’s not the scoping documents. I’d also say it’s not too great for Photoshop, it’s not bad on it, just not as good as mouse.

Let’s see what this one can do :-

  • • Move the cursor along the X axis.
  • • Move the cursor along the Y axis.
  • • Click and Double Click
  • • Secondary Click
  • • Three Finger Click (looks up definitions)
  • • Three Finger Drag (moves a window)
  • • Scroll a page Up [*]
  • • Scroll a page down [*]
  • • Scroll a page left [*]
  • • Scroll a page right [*]
  • • Pinch (zoom in and out)
  • • Rotate (two fingers in a circular motion)
  • • Two Finger left/right switching (allows for swiping between pages).
  • • Four Finger left/right switching (allows for moving between full screen apps, something I don’t use as I never have one app take up a whole screen)
  • • From-the-right-edge two-finger (opens up notification centre)
  • • Four finger Swipe Up (Mission Control; shows all your open windows in an organised way).
  • • Four finger swipe down (App ExposeĆ©; shows all the windows that you have for your current program).
  • • Thumb + Three Finger Pinching (Launchpad; shows up all your apps. I personally don’t use this, as I prefer to open things via Spotlight).
  • • Thumb + Three Finger Spread (shows desktop).

[*] Unlike the mouse, these can be used in combination in order to allow complete scrolling in any direction; eg, diagonally.

It took me a while to use these things, some of them didn’t exist when I started using macs, and a lot of them are completely irrelevant to Windows based machines. But like with a lot of what Apple does, now I’m used to them, I find it unusual to be without them. There are keyboard shortcuts everything here, but everything feels intuative and natural on this one tiny device.

Some alternative inputs

The Trackball - Good in theory, crap in practice.

The Trackball – Good in theory, crap in practice.

Stephen Hawking's Input - Might take a while to get used too.

Stephen Hawking’s Input – Might take a while to get used too.

This is how Windows ME was made.

This is how Windows ME was made.

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