Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Magic in the Magic Trackpad

For a long while, I've heard things about trackpads on OSX and how they can improve your workflow. I used to think that it might be cool to have one, but I'd eventually end up not using it a lot and it'd just go into the tech drawer. But recently after my sudden influx in video and music editing and with all the gesture support in the recent versions of OSX, I thought it might be worth it to try a trackpad out on my main computer. So, I got one as a gift.

A Magic Trackpad

After the initial unboxing and stroking of the aluminum (what, people don't do that?), I paired it with my Mac which, surprisingly and unsurprisingly, took only about a minute. Then, I started moving a clicking away. And after using it for about two weeks, I found my original thoughts to be quite contrary to reality: I now use my Magic Trackpad more than my Razer Mamba mouse. It's even more surprising when you consider how good and expensive of a mouse the Razer Mamba is.

But why? On my mouse I have six buttons which is very good for a mouse as most only have three. On my trackpad I only have two buttons. But what I do have that I don't have on my mouse is the arrangement of my fingers.

Not only do I have the approximately fifteen gestures that Apple includes with OSX, but there's this amazing program called BetterTouchTool that allows you to attach gestures with your Magic Trackpad/Mouse to keystrokes and other types of input per application or system wide.

These are just some of the gestures included with the program

This has changed my whole way of navigating my computer, especially in Final Cut Pro X. I do a good amount of video editing and this guy's BetterTouchTool preset for Final Cut Pro X has really sped up my workflow. Instead of having to use two devices, a mouse and a keyboard, I can mostly use only one not only for controlling basic functions in Final Cut Pro X, but systemwide functions such as opening applications and switching between them. And not only am I using it in some of my more complicated applications, but I'm also using it in Chrome now too, binding taps and swipes to opening and closing new tabs and commands such as those. The trackpad emanates convenience.

Of course a trackpad will never replace my mouse. My mouse will be a go to for gaming and purposes where moving my finger back and forth repeatedly is just more work the moving and clicking my mouse back and forth. My trackpad also occasionally goes wonky on me which I hope Apple will fix. But my personal anecdote goes to show that the trackpad does have its home not only on the laptop, but on the desktop as well as showing how a trackpad and a mouse can live together in harmony with their own strengths and weaknesses.

 - Aidan

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