Apple Magic Trackpad – First Impressions

There were, of course, rumours about this little beastie for quite some time before it was announced. And the rumours turned out to be quite accurate. Apple have indeed launched a nifty little Bluetooth trackpad for desktop Macs[1], with all the fancy multi-touch stuff. And yes, as you might expect, my new toy circuits went into overdrive, and I just had to order one, which arrived today. And here it is:

Magic Trackpad

Magic Trackpad

It’s been carefully designed to match, and sit alongside Apple’s wireless keyboard, a device I’ve come to like over the last however many months I’ve been using it. I find I don’t really miss the numeric keypad of the larger USB keyboard, as I don’t really need to type in lots of numbers, and as I’m not running Windows, the need to type in Alt+string_of_numbers to enter obscure characters is a thing of the past. Anyway, here they are, side by side:

Magic Trackpad and Friend

Magic Trackpad and Friend

To make it work, you need to download an update from Apple[2], reboot, then switch it on. Open System Preferences and select the shiny new Trackpad item, then click the quite obvious buttons. Once it’s done the Bluetooth pairing thingy, you’ll find a pile of options complete with little video clips showing what they actually do.

First, it does the usual mousey things. Move one finger over it to move the pointer, tap once for a single click, tap twice for a double click. The secondary click can either be a tap at a corner of the pad, or the two-fingered tap I’m used to on my MacBook. You also have the two-fingered expand, shrink or turn for images, and some new tricks that my older MacBook doesn’t have. In Safari, a three-fingered swipe left or right takes you back and forward between pages. A four-fingered left to right swipe lets you switch applications. A four-fingered vertical swipe activates Exposé – up clears the screen, down shows your open applications.

And there’s more to be discovered – in Mail, a two fingered up/down movement scrolls through the current message, while three fingers will move between messages.

It feels quite comfortable to use – if you’ve used any kind of laptop trackpad, you shouldn’t have any trouble with this. I’m going to use it as my sole pointing device for a while – my Magic Mouse is switched off – and I’ll see how I get on. Some things will take a bit of learning – working with Lightroom’s crop tool was a little awkward just now, but it mostly feels quite natural.

Further reports may follow, depending on how I get on with it, and of course on my tuit supply.

[1] Or indeed MacBooks, but as they have one built in, that seems less likely.
[2] This also adds extra functions to more recent MacBooks