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Mac 101: Setting Up Your Mouse or Trackpad

There’s a myriad of options when it comes to setting up your Mac’s (s aapl) mouse or trackpad. The Mouse and Trackpad sections in System Preferences have helpful videos showing you how to use different features, but here’s a guide to getting those settings just right.

One- or Two-Button?

One of the most confusing things about a Mac mouse is its lack of physical left and right buttons. Both the Magic Mouse and the Mighty Mouse which preceded it have only one click function, clicking anywhere on the mouse, but it’s possible to set up a secondary or right-click, too.

To enable a right-click, open up Mouse in System Preferences (?>System Preferences) and find the Secondary Click setting. On the Magic Mouse, you can set the secondary click to either be on the right, or the left, for left-handed users. To use the right-click function when it’s turned on, perform your click on the right-hand side (or left, if you set it to left) of the mouse.

You can enable two-finger tap secondary clicking in the System Preferences>Trackpad options. Trackpads also have the option of a one-finger secondary click, where you click in the corner of your choice on the trackpad to perform a secondary click instead of using a two-finger tap.

If you uncheck the option for Secondary Click, then to perform a right click, you will need to hold down Control on the keyboard and click with the mouse. Clicking on the left or right-hand side without holding the Control key will perform a left-click.

Scrolling With Inertia

Both the Magic Mouse and trackpads have the option to scroll with inertia. This is the effect you see on the iPhone, where flicking makes the scroll carry on after you let go. The option can be found alongside the checkbox for Scroll, which for mice is under the One Finger heading in the relevant Systems Preferences pane, and for trackpads is under Two Fingers.

You can also turn off scrolling altogether, but that would become tiresome after a while, because it means either using the cursor keys to scroll, or dragging the scrollbar on the right of a window. I imagine you’d be turning scrolling back on fairly soon after turning it off.

Getting a Closer Look

System Preferences (under either Trackpad or Mouse) also offers the option to turn on Screen Zoom for your input device. By holding one of either Control, Option or Command, depending on your choice in the settings, you can then scroll upwards on your device to zoom in on your screen, and scroll down to zoom back out again. This is great for the visually impaired. There are some other options for Screen Zoom which let you change how the screen moves in relation to the cursor, and turn image smoothing while zoomed on or off.

Navigating Using a Mouse or Trackpad

If you use a Magic Mouse or a trackpad, you can turn on swipe to navigate, which lets you go back and forward in your web history, jump between pages in a Preview document, and much more, depending on which application you’re using. On a mouse, you swipe either left or right with two fingers, and for a trackpad it’s three. There are no settings for swipe to navigate; it’s a simple on or off setting.

Trackpad Multitouch

If you own an iPhone or iPad, and you like being able to pinch to zoom, and rotate with two fingers, you’ll be happy to hear that the new glass trackpads on MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs, as well as the Magic Trackpad, support both these multitouch gestures, and a few more. Each gesture can be turned on and off individually, and additional gestures to choose from include swiping up and down with four fingers to access Exposé and the Application Switcher (??). These gestures are the best thing about Apple’s Magic Trackpad.

These are just the options which Apple has built-in to Macs by default. With an application like MagicPrefs, you can add even more functionality to your mouse or trackpad such as custom gestures other than the Apple specified ones. If you have any other input device-related tips or tricks, feel free to share in the comments.

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One Response to “Mac 101: Setting Up Your Mouse or Trackpad”

  1. All of the standard options on he Magic mouse pale in comparison to what you get if you install BetterTouchTool.
    Puts back options for getting to expose (I uose three finger swipe down) and gives one of the few neat things to come out of WIn7 to OS X by letting you maximize or resize a window by banging them up againts the top or sides of the screen.
    Makes the Magic mouse, actually magic!