Apple’s Magic Trackpad, a Website Designer and Photographers Thoughts

It finally came in. My glorious flat little magical device. I thought I would share some of my thoughts on how this little device works and how it will help me as a website designer and photographer. The Magic Trackpad is a desktop version of what the newer Macbook and Macbook Pro model Apple laptops come standard with. Gone is the trackball or the little nub that used to come standard on laptops. I am the first in line to welcome new technologies on how we interface with devices. I hated those stupid eraser head looking things on the older laptops.

Ok, back to the Magic Trackpad. Here are things that I like and dislike about it. With the dislikes, I will do my best to share how I have been dealing with them and/or fixed them.

1. Zooming.
It is pretty awesome that you can two finger zoom into things. This is great in Photoshop when zooming into photos or rotating them. However zoom even works on the desktop and if you accidentally two finger zoom your desktop, your icons go crazy. I searched all over the web for a missing setting I thought I could not find just to learn that there is no way in the System Preferences to turn them off. I did find a small free piece of software you can install called BetterTouchTool that you can install to remove this issue. Watch this video I just created on how I fixed the issue. Other then that, zooming is pretty cool.

2. Touchiness and Responsiveness.
Like all other bluetooth devices, sometimes you have to wake them up. To save battery life, they go into a sleep mode. Typically they wake up pretty quickly. I have dual computer monitors and in the past I have had my mouse set up so that when I move my mouse from one side of my mouse pad to the other I can go from the left side of the first monitor across to the right side of the right monitor. With the trackpad I found that if I had it set the same way, the device was to touchy for me to make smaller movements. Once I spent a little time in System Preferences fine tuning how I wanted the Trackpad to respond to my touch it was much easier to use.

3. Ergonomics or lack there of.
We are all used to the mouse. You can rest your hand on it and most are generally comfortable. I use the Wireless Magic Mouse from Apple. I have been using a mouse to interface with my computer since they went mainstream in the late 80s. The Magic Trackpad does recognize when you are resting your thumb on the device, so you can rest your hand, just not like you would on a mouse. By default, five fingers on the Trackpad does not do anything, but four fingers does. The device is low enough that you can rest part of your hand on your desk, but it is not as easy as resting your hand on a laptop next to the position of the track pad.

4. Placement
I LOVE being able to place the trackpad to the right of my keyboard. This makes it much easier and less of a strain to use then it’s position on the laptop. I recognize that it’s position on the laptop is to be accessible for both left and right handed people. With the centered position on the laptop and continuous use, I get sore in my wrist from holding my hand at that angle. With the Magic Trackpad I have found a happy medium as to my placement as you can see in the photo. Depending on how I am sitting at my desk I may move it around from time to time, but for the most part I set it up this way.

5. Confusing Myself
I still find myself going to grab a mouse, my hand already in that position as I lower it. Only to quickly remember that a pad is there. I am sure that with time this will happen less resulting in less “derf!” moments.

6. More gestures than you can shake a stick at.
The Trackpad already gives you many gestures you can do to perform specific functions on your computer but using it with BetterTouchTool as noted above allows you to use this device to its max. I used to have a really nice Logitec Mouse that had several buttons that could be customized on it. However the charger burned out and smoked up my office so I decided to go with the Magic Mouse, which of course needs to charger or dock. I am all about simple and less clutter these days. Of course with more customization comes having to remember it all. I am sure there are some gestures I customized to perform functions that I won’t even remember. I will probably have to make a note on my desk to refer to until they have been committed to memory.

Overall I love this device. I think it’s a great addition to my workflow and the way I use my computer. The cost is work it though I think it will take a bit more getting used to.

If you have one, I would love to hear how you are using it and how it has changed the way you are doing things. If you like this post or it has helped you in any way, please click the Facebook Like button or share it on Retweet Twitter button.

Update: I may even get a second Trackpad for when I am using my laptop for long periods of time. As I noted above, when using my laptops trackpad for long periods of time, my wrist gets sore.


  • Les Reynolds
    February 11, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    How do you find it works when designing? I’m in the market for a new pointing device, and torn between this and the Magic Mouse as a replacement for my Mighty Mouse.

  • jeradhill
    February 11, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    I find that it gives me more control than a mouse does. I prefer to do most designing on a Wacom pad but the trackpad does just fine, I think better than a mouse.

  • Arturo Goicochea
    April 17, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    But does it replace your wacom?

  • jeradhill
    April 18, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Over the last year or so I have used my Wacom pad much less. I almost rarely bring photos into Photoshop anymore. I stay mostly in Lightroom and rely on Photoshop for big changes. I am considering a Cintique display as I never really like using a Wacom pad that much. I may give one another try with the latest Wacom version. I had an Intuos3 and felt it was a bit clunky.

  • Jez Williams
    May 21, 2011 at 4:09 pm

     Great review, thanks! My MagicMouse broke this morning, and thinking about getting the Trackpad, I do a lot of design development work, so my only concern was how it would effect power users. But I’m defo going to give it a go – thanks Jerad! 

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