15 Best Mac­Book Track­pad Ges­tures to Boost Your Workflow

Parth Shah

Multi-Touch Trackpad is one of the best things about Apple MacBooks. Majority of the Mac users find it difficult to go around the macOS operating system without trackpad gestures. And those who've been using the trackpad gestures swear by it. Check out some of the useful Multi-Touch Trackpad gestures you can use on your MacBook to improve your productivity.

Macbook trackpad gestures

Apple introduced its highly successful Force Touch into Mac’s trackpad in 2015. The trackpad on the Mac is now a single layer, meaning the trackpad actually doesn’t go down when you press. The haptic engine underneath it understands how hard the user is pressing, and then reacts to the press. With the new technology, Apple incorporated even more gestures into the macOS operating system.

You may know one or two gestures, like scrolling with two fingers or zooming in with a two-finger pinch, but there’s a plethora of little-known swipes and taps that can unlock extra functionality on your Mac. Check out our top fifteen MacBook Force Touch Trackpad gestures to use.

1. App Exposé

The App Exposé is one of the all-time favorite gestures among many macOS users. While macOS does have a bare minimum window management system, this gesture helps when you have multiple Chrome windows open. Swiping down with four fingers invokes App Exposé, which lets you view all the open windows of an app side by side on your screen.

App expose

2. Move Windows Easily

Moving windows in macOS is a cumbersome task. This gesture letse you easily move any window around your desktop. Place the mouse pointer at the top of a window, and now using three fingers, swipe the direction you want the window to move.

Drag apps

3. Show Desktop

There’s always this situation when you have many windows open at one time, and you want to attach that one file from your desktop into the Mail. This is where this gesture helps. Pinching your thumb and three-finger apart on your Mac’s trackpad moves all the windows to the side, revealing the desktop. And now you can easily attach that one file to your Mail.

Show desktop

4. Open/Close Notification Center

With the new macOS Big Sur update, apps offer more integration and information in the Notification Center. Whether it is to check new widgets or an important notification, you must have found yourself opening and closing the Notification Center several times in a day. Swiping two fingers to the left from the right edge of the trackpad reveals Notification Center on Mac. And similarly, you can close the Notification Center using the reverse gesture.

Notif center mac

5. Go Back and Forward in Web Browser

Although quite common, this is one of the most used trackpad gestures out there. This gesture lets you quickly go back and forth pages in your browser. You can swipe left using two fingers to go back a page and swipe right with two fingers to go forward.

Webpages

6. Rotate Images and PDFs

This gesture helps you to rotate any image or PDF in Preview. With two fingers placed on your Mac’s trackpad, simply rotate the fingers as if you’re rotating a real object.

Zoom rotate

The image or PDF will rotate as per your gestures.

7. Open Launchpad

Launchpad is like the ‘App Library’ in macOS. All the applications appear that and one of the most convenient ways to find the installed apps. Just pinch in using four fingers, and the Launchpad will appear.

Launchpad

8. Invoke Mission Control

If you’re in the habit of using apps in fullscreen, this gesture will prove very useful. Swiping up using three fingers on your trackpad will reveal Mission Control—a place where you can see all of your app windows and desktops.

Mission control

9. Switch Between Windows, Apps, and Desktops

If you’re anything like us, you have at least four apps running all the time. Placing four fingers on your Mac’s trackpad and swiping left or right, you can quickly switch between all of your Mac’s windows.

Move between full screen apps mac

10. Quickly Insert Images in Mail and Messages

This gesture lets you ‘pick up’ any image on Google Images, or any website for that matter, and quickly insert it in the mail, document, or folder. Hover over an image on the web, and drag and drop it using three fingers on your Mac’s trackpad.

Macs introduced after 2016 come with a ‘Force Touch’ trackpad. It lets you perform various functions by pressing the trackpad with force. These are some of the best Force Touch gestures to use on your Mac.

11. Look Up

Look Up is an amazing tool. If you find it difficult to understand a word’s meaning, Look Up will show contextual information like the word's meaning via the Dictionary app or information from Wikipedia. Press hard on a word to activate Look Up. Disappointingly, Look Up only works on one word, for now.

Lookup

12. Preview Files and Links

Previewing Files and hyperlinks has become easier with Force Touch. When in Safari, press hard on a link which will bring up a small window and show you a ‘preview’ of the link. Similarly, you can use this feature to preview the contents of a file or folder.

Preview links

13. Rename Files and Folders

Renaming files and folders has become easier with the introduction of Force Touch. Press hard on a folder/file’s name and the rename text box will appear.

Rename folder

14. Draw Annotations with Pressure Sensitivity

If you take a lot of screenshots on your Mac, you must have found yourself in a position where you have to mark up or annotate an object. Now, without using a third-party pen or software, you can annotate your PDFs and screenshot with pressure-sensitive annotations using Force Touch gestures on Mac.

Pressure sensitive annotate

15. Dynamic Fast Forward Speed in QuickTime

Using the new Force Touch technology, Mac can recognize how hard you press the trackpad. Pressing down on the rewind and fast-forward buttons in QuickTime changes the speed of the actions, depending on how hard you press.

Quicktime fast play

Master macOS Gestures

These Trackpad gestures can save a lot of time on your MacBook and let you experience some of the basic features without missing a mouse much. The pressure sensitivity support in the new Force Touch Trackpad is an amazing way to interact with several apps on macOS.

Next up: Is your Mac overheating? Read the post below to learn why it's happening and how to fix it.


The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.

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Parth Shah

Written By

Parth Shah

Parth previously worked at EOTO.tech covering tech news. He is currently freelancing at Guiding Tech writing about apps comparison, tutorials, software tips and tricks and diving deep into iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows platforms.