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How-to: Enable Expose and Spaces for the Magic Mouse

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So you’re loving your brand new Magic Mouse but are missing the ability to activate Expose and Spaces right from the mouse? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. Using SIMBL and a neat little preference pane called MultiClutch, we can map our own custom shortcuts to the left and right swipes coming from the Magic Mouse and have them activate Spaces and Expose instead of navigating forward and back.

Getting Setup

The first thing we need to do is to get MultiClutch up and working in a 64-bit Snow Leopard world. MultiClutch, like a lot of apps relying on InputManagers, kind of got gimped when the new big cat showed up. Luckily though, a recent fork in the project now allows for its plugin to be loaded through the latest SIMBL release.

You can find some detailed instructions on how to get MultiClutch up and running from the source of the new plugin, but essentially what you need to do is:

  • Install the original MultiClutch application.
  • Install the latest version of SIMBL.
  • Download the forked version of the MultiClutch plugin and load it into the SIMBL plugin directory at /Library/Application Support/SIMBL/Plugins.
  • Go in and remove the old version of the MultiClutch plugin from /Library/InputManagers.

Adding Shortcuts

Once you have MultiClutch up and running, open its preference pane and add new gestures for Swipe Left and Swipe Right and then assign them each key commands. If you’re configuring for use with Spaces and Expose you’ll have to use one of the function keys. You may have to do some shuffling around depending on what function keys you already have mapped. I used F1 and F2 as they weren’t already mapped to anything.


Then just go into your preferences for Expose and Spaces and set Activate Spaces and All Windows to the corresponding key command you used in MultiClutch. Since we’re using SIMBL you’ll have to quit and relaunch any applications that were already active when we started in order for the system to pick up our new shortcuts when that application is active.

Caveat Emptor

Obviously this is not an ideal solution, and ultimately it would be best for Apple to build in some customization options for Magic Mouse gestures right into the Mouse preference pane. As with anything that is this hacked together, your milage may vary, but I’ve been using it for a couple days now and it’s working great. On the whole I really love the new Magic Mouse but not having my Expose and Spaces was a bit of a deal breaker for me. Hopefully this will at least be able to tide us over until a more solid solution comes along.

80 Responses to “How-to: Enable Expose and Spaces for the Magic Mouse”

  1. Bryan Schuetz

    Since I originally wrote this post (the first weekend the mouse was available) a number of new applications that are made specifically for adding gestures to the magic mouse have become available.

    A number of these are mentioned in the comments above but I’d like to just say I’ve been using Better Touch Tool for a while now and find it to be the most reliable.

  2. Also you can try MagicPrefs, a freeware developed by Vlad Alexa, who enables a lot more gestures for the mouse by a System preferences panel. Provide some help and advice and is easy to use.

  3. Ronald van Pelt

    An alternative without installing any additional software is to use the secondary click on the magic mouse for it. Just set the secondary-clik to right (or left) in the magic mouse preferences (first!) and then under expose choose for “All windows” the “Secondary Mouse”.

  4. Forget the tweaking and finding folders… I found the best deal for me. All you mentioned and more with MOUSEWIZARD. The best application I have used… and, you can use it for 10 days, if it works for you, they send you the activation code for only $2.5 USD.. Take a look, i really love this app, is my magic mouse as it should be from the beginning

  5. I’m running a osx 10.5.8 and It works great with applications like safari, but it doesn’t work with indesign or the finder! Did I miss something?

    I’ve restarted the applications and relaunch the finder with force quit

  6. Got it 3 finger gestures working for spaces using SIMBL. I would really like to be able to set four finger gestures. For me, 4 finger swipe up would be ideal for opening spaces (I hate showing the desktop).

  7. Help! Neither this nor the Expogesture app mentioned in a separate comment works at the mouse-gesture level. I can access Expose by striking the F1 key, but the mapping hasn’t worked. A left gesture simply scrolls left.

    Everything is mapped in System Preferences. It’s as if the gesture is ignoring the map.

    (Snow Leopard, 2007 Intel iMac. Magic Mouse purchased separately with Apple’s software update. Am I missing something obvious? I’ll slap myself on your behalf if you can point out my eff-up.)

  8. I can’t seem to figure out how to get the left and right swipes to map to the F3 or F4 keys on the keyboard. What’s the trick? I can’t seem to type into the field. Any advice?

  9. Roger Lewis

    I agree with James Andrews. I too would like to see Expose implemented through a two finger click. That too would map closely to how I use Expose on the mighty mouse. Any hacks for during that?

  10. I couldn’t get this to work running Snow Leopard (10.6.1) with my Magic Mouse. Loved the idea of Expogesture – exactly what I am expecting from the magic mouse, but it doesn’t seem to work in Snow Leopard.

  11. Hey, it works great for me, but ever since I set it up, something weird is happening: a few application windows (not all) will fade to a transparent state when deselected. Is this related at all? I can’t figure it out for the life of me. Is this happening to anyone else?

  12. DistortedLoop

    I’m more a trackpad man than a mouse man. Isn’t it just easier to set up the hot corners and flick the mouse to a corner for exposé, another for dashboard, etc.?

  13. Personally I’d like to see the implementation of the “middle click” through a two finger (left and right) click. This would closely map to what I use for Exposé on the Mighty Mouse.

    It would make sense for gestures to be customisable, though I suspect that, given the lack of ability to customise trackpad gestures, Apple may choose not to support this kind of customisation on the Magic Mouse.

  14. What about using the built-in shortcuts for Expose and Spaces?

    Something like open-Apple + right click for Expose and
    ctrl + open-Apple + right click for Spaces?

    Works like a charm for me.

  15. SIMBL doesn’t load itself into the finder upon login – so gestures don’t work in finder until it’s manually relaunched. Anybody have a solution for this? Besides writing a script to relaunch finder on login, since that seems ridiculous?

    • and just for reference, that’s what I’m doing now, and it works just fine – I wrote a relaunch finder login (can be found on google fairly easily) and set it as a login item, loading SIMBL and thus multiclutch into the finder as well as any other application as it loads. a lot of work, but man it’s nice to have swipe left as expose. so natural!

    • Bryan Schuetz

      @Reed that’s a great idea. Unfortunately there’s no getting around the need to relaunch Finder once SIMBL is running. Doing it automatically as a login item at least takes some inconvenience out of it.

      I actually restart my machine so rarely that I don’t mind having to just run a quick KillAll Finder from the QSB once in a blue moon.

      Glad to hear it’s working for you.

  16. I am having issues with the SIMBL plugins & folders. I can’t find them under application support (doesn’t install or something?) what version OS does this work on? I really want this to work as Expose is the biggest downfall of my new magic mouse.

    • Bryan Schuetz

      Chad if you don’t see the SIMBL/Plugins directory under /Library/Application Support then you might want to check ~/Library/Application Support.

      Whether or not you choose to install it for all users or only the current user will determine whether or not it installs in the root or in the current users home directory.

      Hope that helps.

    • As far I know, if the folder not present, you have to create it manualy.

      I am using SIMBL on SnomLeopard for Megazoom, it’s worked.

      This is one drawback feature with MagicMouse. With MightMouse I am using its middle click for expose. I will sure going to miss it when I had those new iMac.

    • Still can’t get it to work. Tried it on 2 different computers installed both and can’t find the folders they install on either. I got it working once but it was only for select programs (still running in 32bit) so who knows… very, very bummed.

  17. Bryan Schuetz

    @Yeray In the above scenario the multiclutch plugin is working through SIMBL so as applications are launched its bundle gets added in. The gestures work for me in iTunes.

    @Adam Sorry you couldn’t get it to work. It might be worth noting the MultiClutch preference pane was not re-written with the new plugin so when you open it System Preferences will need to switch over to 32 bit mode (it will switch back to 64 when you close it). But this should not add back in the old input manager you removed.

    • Adam Jackson

      That’s what I’m doing for now.

      The mouse hardware & software can support gestures that enable spaces & expose. I think Apple wanted to keep it simple since this mouse ships w/ all new iMacs.

      My opinion: it’s a step backward and sucks that Apple abandoned some core features built into the Mighty Mouse (that came out in late 2005).

      I used middle ball for “all windows”, side buttons for “desktop” expose commands. I also want pinch and zoom on the magic mouse. This stuff can be done as the sensors support it.

  18. Adam Jackson

    Couldn’t get it to work. The Pref pane wouldn’t load and it kept forcing me to install the old input manager (which I deleted in step 4).

    Tried about 4 times, kept restarting, no go. I give up.

  19. As far as I know, Multiclutch only worked on certain applications, or at least used to when I installed it on my Macbook Pro (probably cocoa ones, as iTunes would not respond to swipe input). Are these shortcuts and swipes really global, or tied to the active aplication as a keyboard shortcut would be?

  20. bakerjam

    That’s a lot of work just to enable Exposé and Spaces on the Magic Mouse. Good thing I never used the mouse for those features. However, I am missing the middle click that opens new tabs in safari :(