Mac trackpads have been the industry staple for years and offered features that no other laptop could. Today, while the difference between the touchpad for Macs and 2-in-1 Windows laptops is much smaller, there are certain functionalities that Macbook trackpads have that are still a cut above.
We’ll cover everything you need to know about Macbook trackpad gestures, tips and tricks for using your touchpad, Mac troubleshooting, and so much more! If you haven’t used a touchpad before and want to level up your Google Classroom game. These tips should work whatever Mac trackpad you have, whether a Macbook Pro trackpad or an older model.
Essential Mac Trackpad Tips & Tricks
The Mac’s trackpad has many great utility features for consumers to use as they navigate their $600 Macbook. We’ll cover some of the essential swipes and gestures you can use with your Mac trackpad. No matter if you plan to use it for data science or gaming!
Tap to Click
The most straightforward and accessible of the Mac trackpad features is the humble tap. Tap to click allows you to select and choose an icon, button, or task you want to act on. It’ll be your most used gesture, beneficial for changing Cricut Explore Air 2 designs.
Remember that you don’t need to press down on the trackpad to tap; a simple tap is sufficient to activate the tap-to-click feature. Double tap will allow you to open your files and folders or run applications.
With two fingers, you can also unlock the right click (sometimes called a secondary click). There are a few ways to do this right-click, with one method holding the Command key and then tapping the flat surface of the trackpad.
The other way is to click and tap with two fingers instead of one, which can be a more effortless motion for some.
The third most often used gesture is the scroll. You’ll need two fingers to scroll, but the gesture is simple. Take the two fingers, and move them up and down the trackpad in unison – this will scroll through your webpage.
You can see the slider/progress bar on the side of the screen pop up when you scroll, indicating how large the screen is.
Three Finger Drag
Before you try the three-finger drag, you’ll need to go to the accessibility preferences within your System Preferences. For some, using three fingers instead of two comes more naturally, and we tend to agree.
You can drag and drop files quickly with a simple tap and drag of your three fingers.
Zooming will take your thumb and fingers rather than two fingers. To zoom in or out, tap the touchpad with both digits and separate or join them. You’ll easily zoom in or out if you’re on a word processor or web page.
Smart Zoom is quicker and easier than regular Zoom. All you have to do is double-tap with two fingers, and it will automatically zoom in. Unfortunately, there’s no way to use Smart Zoom to zoom out, so you’ll have to do that yourself.
For rotation, you’ll need to assume the same thumb and one-finger position you had for Zoom, but instead of separating them or joining them, you rotate them together. This is especially useful to rotate photos to angle the picture better or get a better look from a different angle.
Mission Control is where all the essential settings and applications are on your Macbook. To access the Mission Control using gestures, you only need to swipe up with all your fingers at once. This is great for college students who need to keep tabs on their assignments and apps.
Need to quickly and easily clear out space on your Mac? The Launchpad gestures will easily allow you to access the Launchpad and close any apps you don’t need to use any more. Tap your thumb and three fingers on the trackpad and join them together. It’s easier than removing stickers from your laptop!
To show your desktop instead, you’ll need to follow the same steps as you took on Launchpad (thumb and three fingers touching the trackpad), but instead of joining them together, you need to swipe your fingers away from your thumb. You don’t need a computer science degree to understand this!
Make navigating to your desktop a simple task with the show desktop gesture.
How to Fix Trackpad Issues
If you’re experiencing trackpad problems, we recommend reading about our tips and tricks on fixing the issues your trackpad may be facing. Unfortunately, even if your laptop has an Apple logo, the multi-touch trackpad can still be faulty or broken after a while.
The most common reasons for a broken trackpad are as follows:
- Corrupted Software
- Dirty Trackpad
- Physical Damages
- Unoptimized OS
- Hardware Issues
There are a couple of solutions to these issues, and if your trackpad isn’t working. Here are some of the things you can do to resolve these issues:
- Check for Damage. One of the most common reasons for your trackpad not working is damage. Whether you’ve spilt a drink onto your Mac’s trackpad or used it after eating food, grease, dust, and dirt can impact your trackpad’s performance. Greasy fingerprints indicate that your haptic feedback could malfunction, so we recommend you take it to Apple support for a complete diagnosis.
- Peripherals. If you have multiple devices connected to your Mac, such as Bluetooth or a USB keyboard, there may be interference between these applications and your trackpad. Start by disconnecting each one and see if the issue is resolved.
- Disable Force Click. Sometimes user input is the fault of a trackpad error. Force clicking and tapping are remarkably similar gestures but can often be challenging to do separately. It all depends on the pressure of your fingers, which could be more intuitive when you’ve just bought a new Macbook. You can stop force click by going into your system preferences.
- Reset your SMC. If your trackpad has issues, resetting your SMC or system management controller may do the trick. The SMC regulates and manages the power and battery your trackpad is receiving energy from, and some Mac users who use it for work and homeschool have found that resetting this does the trick. You can reset your SMC by turning off your Macbook and removing the power cable for 20 seconds.
- Reset NVRAM or PRAM. If the above steps for resetting your SMC don’t work, resetting your NRAM (nonvolatile random across memory) or PRAM (parameter RAM) could solve your issue. You’ll want to turn off your Mac using the power button and then turn it on while holding the following keys: Option + Command + P + R.Make sure to unplug your Mac from any external monitors, such as when you’re using your Mac as a screen for your PS4. Release this after you hear the startup sound of your Mac and the Apple logo appears.
Suppose you need help with resolving your trackpad or magic trackpad. In that case, we recommend you instead take your Macbook to an expert technician so they can run Apple diagnostics on the device and alter the trackpad settings if necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Owning a Mac trackpad for the first time takes a little getting used to, mainly if you’ve only used the trackpads of other devices up until now. If you have more questions about how you can master your Macbook trackpad and professionally navigate, then please take a look at our frequently asked questions too!
How do I enable my touchpad on my Mac?
Thankfully this is an easy process, and we bet your 11-year-old could do it too! All you have to do is navigate to Apple Menu and System Preferences. Choose your trackpad, then choose Click and Point. From there, you can easily select the sensitivity of your Mac’s touchpad.
Why is my Mac touchpad not responding?
There could be several reasons why your Mac touchpad isn’t responding; we’ve even covered why in our article. It’s a highly annoying problem, especially if you’ve paid a considerable amount for your Macbook Pro.
The best DIY solution to a Macbook that isn’t responding is to clean your trackpad thoroughly, as dirt and grime may have accumulated. Also, remember that your touchpad may only reply if you’re using the right amount of fingers during your inputs.
How do I activate my MacBook touchpad to click?
Simple! Open up your Apple Menu and navigate to System preferences. Head to the trackpad category and switch to the Point and Click tab. Then all you need to do is activate the box next to Tap to Click.
This is a great switch if you heavily use your touchpad for clicking and can save a lot of time in the long run, especially during Zoom meetings and presentations.
There’s certainly a lot to write about for trackpad gestures, and we hope this guide has given you a firm grasp on how to use your trackpad’s variety of gestures and swipes and how to handle the many software issues that could come up. Feel free to send this to Mac users struggling to use their new Macbook.
Writer Graham Grieve brings two decades of technical communications experience to The Holy Tech coverage. Isaac contributes articles on laptops, tablets and PCs, alongside various software and hardware guides. Isaac is a former newspaper journalist who also worked in tech communications for some of the country’s biggest corporations. He also counsels and creates material for other technology publications and hosts a podcast.
Isaac’s in-depth reporting and knowledge of hardware and software issues helps The Holy Tech’s readers learn how to choose the right products, or solve tricky problems.