Quick Tip: Trackpad rule of thumb

This tip is not highly technical, but may be of use to you if you use a trackpad on your Mac, be it laptop or Magic Trackpad. It came up while talking to Rabbi Eric Linder about workflows; a seemingly mundane problem, but it struck a chord with me because I had the same issue when I first got my Magic Trackpad.

The problem is that if you click and drag something, you quickly run out of space on the trackpad, and letting go to reposition your fingers means dropping your file. The solution is simple: begin the drag by clicking the file or object with your thumb (position the cursor then press down with your thumb), and then use your fingers to move it. As long as you don’t lift your thumb up, the dragged items won’t drop.

You can also use multi-touch gestures while holding items under your thumb, swiping between spaces, hiding and showing the desktop, etc. Once this action begins, your thumb no longer registers (try picking up with your thumb, swiping with your fingers and then sliding your thumb aorund… nothing).

Yoink, which I reviewed on TUAW1 a while ago fills in some blanks when dealing with more complex drags or where you want to gather multiple files from separate drags. This tip covers the main bases, though.

  1. It was actually a comment on the review that made me realize this was possible. It didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for Yoink, but it made me much less disappointed in my Magic Trackpad’s default behavior.

Brett Terpstra

Brett is a writer and developer living in Minnesota, USA. You can follow him as ttscoff on Twitter, GitHub, and Mastodon. Keep up with this blog by subscribing in your favorite news reader.

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