Gestures are a big part of Mac OS X Lion. In fact, they’re such a big part that you’re really missing out on a lot of features unless you have a Magic Trackpad for your desktop or a multitouch trackpad on your laptop.
With the introduction of the multitouch trackpad in Apple’s notebooks, more complex gestures were introduced with Leopard in 2007, but there are a whole host of new ones in Lion, so let’s check them out so that you’re well versed in using them!
Point & Click
There are four so called ‘point and click’ gestures in Lion, two of which are new to the operating system. You have your standard tap to click gesture, which is simply tapping on the trackpad with one finger, and you also have the secondary click, which is activated through tapping on the trackpad with two fingers.
One new gesture that has made its way in to the king of the jungle is ‘Look up’. If you’re looking at a website or reading something and come across a word that you don’t understand, then you can tap on it with three fingers to get a pop up definition. A three finger drag has also been added, which allows you to move windows by – you guessed it – dragging with three fingers on the trackpad.
Scroll & Zoom
This is a biggie. In Lion, the scrolling direction has been reversed, and is now ‘natural’, like on iOS where the content follows your finger. I’d recommend giving this a chance, as I got used to it on my trackpad after a few days, but it can be really confusing on a mouse. To turn it off, uncheck ‘Scroll direction: natural’ in your System Preferences.
The pinch and zoom gesture has made its way from previous versions of Mac OS X, but there’s another new zoom feature which has come straight from iOS. If you double tap with two fingers, the content on your page will smartly re-arrange itself and zoom into the content in the area where you tap. This is like double tapping with a single finger in iOS, and is a great gesture to have handy. Finally, you can rotate with two fingers, like in previous versions of Mac OS X and iOS. Just take two fingers and swipe them around to change the orientation of a picture.
All of the gestures here are new to Lion, and come in really handy when managing content and spaces. If you’re using Preview in full screen, it will place two portrait pages next to each other so it feels like you’re reading a magazine. To flick from one page to another, you can simply take two fingers and drag the page out of the way to reveal the next two.
If you have multiple desktops and full screen apps active, then you will want to get from one to the other without Mission Control. To do this, take three fingers and swipe left or right. I’ve changed this to a four finger gesture in System Preferences as it feels more natural, but either can be used if you select which one you want.
To enter Mission Control, by default you can take three fingers and swipe upwards on the trackpad. For App Exposé, swipe down with three fingers. Again, this can be changed to a four finger gesture depending on your preference.
The last two gestures and pinch and spread gestures. If you want to open Launchpad from your trackpad, you can simply take your thumb and three fingers and pinch inwards. To exit Launchpad, do the same gesture in reverse, spreading your fingers and thumb instead of pinching. If you’re already on the desktop, this will send all active windows to the edge of the screen so you can see your desktop.
Think you can remember all of those gestures? Go try them out and make them your own in System Preferences!