Multi-Touch and Force Click on Your MacBook

By Mark L. Chambers

Today’s crop of MacBooks has the smartest trackpads on the planet! That’s because Apple’s latest mice and trackpads include two features. Multi-Touch allows you to control the view of a document by using specific finger motions on the trackpad surface, while Force Click activates specific features if your fingers press down harder on the trackpad surface. (Your Macbook must be equipped with a Force Touch trackpad to use a Force Click).

Here’s the rundown:

  • Two-finger scrolling: Move two fingers over the surface of the trackpad at once to scroll the contents of the active Finder window or application in the same direction. For example, you can use the scroll function to move up and down through the pages of a document or to move up and down through a long web page. Who needs scroll bars?

  • Two-finger zooming: Pinching your thumb and forefinger toward each other on the trackpad zooms in on a document or image. The reverse (moving your fingertips away from each other) zooms out.

  • Two-finger Smart Zoom: Tap twice with two fingers to zoom in, and double-tap again with two fingers to zoom back out.

  • Two-finger rotating: Move your thumb and forefinger in a circle on the trackpad to rotate an image or document in the corresponding direction.

  • Two-finger paging: Swipe your thumb and forefinger to the left or right across the trackpad to page through a document or to move to the next or previous image in a set.

  • Three-finger full-screen switching: Swipe your thumb and first two fingertips to the left or right across the trackpad to move between open applications in full-screen mode.

  • Two-finger Notification Center display: Swipe to the left with two fingers from the right edge of the trackpad, and El Capitan displays the Notification Center. To hide the panel, reverse the gesture and swipe from the left edge to the right using two fingers.

  • Perform actions in Mission Control, Launchpad, and your Desktop: Using the combination of thumb and fingers you specify, you can configure the display and operation of these features within El Capitan.

  • Force Click data on your screen to display additional information: You can Force Click on a text or links in documents, web pages, and email messages to display related data, or Force Click on a document icon to display its contents without opening it. Other Force Click functions vary by application, but you can check the Help system within any application to see if it offers Force Click commands.

Note that not all Multi-Touch gestures work with older MacBook trackpads, and you’ll only find Force Touch on the latest Mac laptops.