How to: Get the most out of touch gestures on the MacBook

How to: Get the most out of touch gestures on the MacBook

Summary: Touchscreens are becoming the norm on laptops as they add a new dimension for working with the system. MacBooks have great trackpads that make a touchscreen unnecessary when used properly.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, Laptops
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Topics: Mobility, Apple, Laptops

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25 comments
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  • Seriously?

    Look objectively at the ridiculously complex gestures and tell me you seriously don't believe Apple is just trying to mask the fact that they are years behind by not offering touch enabled displays.

    Having to design various combinations of 3 and 4 fingers gestures is a blatant admission of UX failure, far more than associating a pen to a computer.

    Windows 8 is a UX dream compared to this finger gymnastic snafu.
    TheCyberKnight
    • I don't know what is ridiculous or complex about them

      have you ever tried it? It is exactly like using a touch screen, except the surface is where your arms already are (on the keyboard) rather than the glass.

      Feels almost the same as the gestures on an iPad. I would seriously wonder at the IQ of anyone who found it hard, to be frank.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • Give Me a Break

      Yet another Windows shill spouting ignorance.
      Ever tried reaching out and touching a screen to get things done all day long at a desktop? If we get a generation of people doing that it will keep physios and chiros busy for ages. The multitouch gestures on the MacBooks and indeed on the trackpads for their desktop machines are glorious ergonomic functionality. Simple to learn, easy on the body. I'm using a mouse less and less.
      drskywalker
    • The Track pad of Apple..

      was so successful that many OEM's are still attempting to emulate it.
      Logitech even markets a track pad sort of clone for PCs in an attempt to market Apple's success.
      I presently own both Apple and Windows computers, and even Windows 8 with a touchscreen on a small Asus laptop (Q200). I prefer the track pad on my MacBook Pro to getting my screen filthy on the on the Asus and honestly prefer anything running 7 (also touch capable) and earlier to the mess that that is Windows 8 and later.
      partman1969@...
      • How are you measuring success?

        The same small market share they've had for decades?
        Buster Friendly
        • Um, how about the only way applicable for a for profit business: profit?

          .DeusExMachina.
    • Trackpad

      Most touchscreen Windows 8.x devices, including Surface with either Covers, do support some gestures on the trackpad. Meanwhile, they don't go to the absurd side of the fence.

      And for those who bring the argument of all-day work loads and the gorilla arm syndrome, they should know that the most frequent operations can be done either with the trackpad gestures or accelerator keys, the later being far more efficient since your hands remain on the keyboard. When you can do more, you can do less.

      The absence of touchscreens on the Apple offering is no stranger to the OS UX being ill-prepared for it. It will come, Apple is just late in this game.
      TheCyberKnight
      • No

        The UX can handle touch. It does now - the Cocoa API has handles for all the major multitouch gestures (since these can all be done on the trackpad.)

        For that matter, iOS is just OS X with some driver support left out, and a slight reworking of the Cocoa API.

        So, no UX has nothing to do with it.
        Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • Can't stand accelerator keys

        I have a dell ultra book that work gave me and a MacBook Air I bought. Since we use office 365 at work, I use my MacBook Air since it's a superior user experience.
        _NonZealot
    • I defy anyone to go from the best

      Windows trackpad to a MacBook one and not notice a significant improvement in ergonomics on the Apple product. With my (2013) Win 8 laptop the trackpad is painful. Inconsistent and always requiring you to check that it is doing what you are asking it to do. When I travel, I always take a mouse. On my (2013) Macbook Pro I never take a mouse. Ever. The Apple trackpad is brilliant.
      paddle.
      • Only if you use only Mac

        Only if you use only Mac software designed for its limitations. In the business world you need to be more flexibile. The thumb across the two buttons give me quick and consistent left, right, and middle clicks. No getting away from my work to gesture or hold down other keys. The Mac is like trying to do work with a video game controller.
        Buster Friendly
        • Enough said....

          You use a mouse in other words. On Windows.

          Ever heard of cognitive dissonance? Look it up sometime...
          paddle.
        • Um what?!?

          Your response makes absolutely no sense. What "limitations"?!? I can access right click just as fast if not faster than you can on a windows laptop, with NO need for holding down other keys. You'd know how if you bothered knowing what you were talking about before you posted. As to "getting away from my work to gesture", those gestures serve EXACTLY that purpose!!! The gestures serve to allow instant UI interaction that would otherwise cause interruption in work flow. Other times, of course, those gestures ARE the work being done (such as rotating a picture).
          You really don't have a clue what you're talking about, and seem more intent on just playing the role of negative Nancy than providing any useful information.
          .DeusExMachina.
    • How can you "look objectively" without subjective experience

      A/k/a knowing what you're talking about?!?
      As to your asinine assertion that "Apple is just trying to mask the fact that they are years behind by not offering touch enabled displays", first, these touch gestures predate the fascination with touch displays. You might know this if you knew anything about the platform, but your posting history makes QUITE clear that you do not. Moreover, while Apple do not offer touch displays, there are any number of other vendors that do. And they work just fine (as far a a UI mode not intended for desktop use can be expected to actually work).
      These gestures are NOT difficult to learn, and for the ones a given user finds most useful, can be learned by most people in a matter of minutes.
      Furthermore, calling Win8 a UX dream, despite the blatant disregard that interface has for any number of known UI laws, such as Fitt's, is absurd.
      .DeusExMachina.
  • Trackpads...

    Hate em.
    heathman
    • You must be a non-Mac user

      This sentiment is often heard on that side of the fence, where almost all laptop owners purchase additional pointing devices. It is, conversely, almost never heard by Mac users, especially laptop users, who, as a group, almost never buy mice. Those that do are often first time switcher, who just assume that this is par for the course, and then soon find they never use them.
      .DeusExMachina.
  • One of the best features of a Macbook - multitouch gestures

    I've used some of these when I was using a Mac in college to do music production - they really are fantastic and save a lot of time and effort to switch between the mixers and editor views in programs like Pro Tools and Cubase. Especially the 5 finger pinch to open the apps in launchpad. Great tips.
    James Stevenson
  • Missing the point...

    Unless we're going to take a trip back in time to earlier versions of windows 8, the current iteration works quite well without touch. It's by no means perfect, in that some aspects of the OS feel extraneous or unoptimized, but let's not pretend that 8.1 requires touch.

    So if it's not required, why do so many laptops and all-in-ones have it? Options, really. It's nice to be able to use the touchscreen to control some aspects of your computer, and leads to a unique and enjoyable user experience compared to a device with only track pad gestures - which are not unique to Macs, though Apple has unquestionably better implementation of them by virtue of necessity.

    But even that isn't the endgame. Hybrids are the ultimate goal, and far and away a better experience than a traditional laptop, no matter how you touch it. The designs are still in their infancy but some Lenovo laptops and the Surface Pro 3 showcase this approach best.

    Now watch as Apple unveils a hybrid with a touch screen, backtracking on all its previous statements, and this author proclaims it the best thing since sliced bread...
    dricht1
    • Necessity

      I quote "... which are not unique to Macs, though Apple has unquestionably better implementation of them by virtue of necessity."

      It's a clearly written sentence, yet I'm not understanding something. Apple needed to do a better trackpad and no one else did? Why did Apple have to? Why does Lenovo get a pass? I would have exercised my cliche muscles and suggested that an excellent trackpad is a willful consequence of controlling hardware and software. But you know how it was, Microsoft is credited with low pc prices and OEMs are dinged for poor trackpads.

      Also, "needing" to do something is not the point, "doing it" is the point.

      As to hybrids, it looks to me to be a variation on the dock concept, only this time one leaves behind the keyboard along with the power connection.

      The whole point for the dock is that the data and works in progress are always with the user. My question: are cloud and sync, though fated to be ever short of perfect, good enough? If so, then the world we see now, mobile devices engineered towards convenience, ruggedness, and power frugality and a highly performant but power consuming pc for the small percentage of power users, makes more sense to this guy than a fleet of digital Swiss army knives.

      But I could be wrong.
      DannyO_0x98
    • Not going to happen

      Apple has been clear on this - they're not interested in making a fridge slash toaster.

      Hybrids is an interesting angle for Microsoft, a differentiator for them. It isn't an angle Apple has ever been interested in chasing down, and they've made that clear.

      It is refreshing when companies have different visions and attempt to capitalize on them and maximize them. Long may it be so!
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter