How to use Trackpad gestures in Lion

One of the biggest changes in Lion is the introduction of iOS like features and greater use of Trackpad gestures instead of mouse movements. If you’re completely new to Trackpads, or just use yours like a finger controlled mouse, gestures are basically the same kind of hand movements and finger strokes that you use to navigate a touchscreen phone.

Gestures allow you to open, close, rotate, move, select, start, change, query simply with a few finger movements. Lion features a new System Preferences pane for Trackpad movements and each gesture has a video tutorial to help you get going. Here’s our guide to getting the most our of gesture of Lion:

Tap to click

A classic single click.

Secondary Click

This is the equivalent of a right-click. You can get it by choosing between three options: a touch on the trackpad with two fingers, a single finger touch in the lower right corner of the trackpad, or a single finger touch in the lower left corner of the trackpad.


This probably is the most hidden of all gestures. While surfing the web, with a three finger double click on any word, a pop up appears, showing the definition of the Oxford Dictionary installed by default in the OS. You also get a wide range of synonyms provided by the built-in Thesaurus.

Drag with three fingers

This option is unchecked by default. If selected, by touching the trackpad with three fingers and moving them you’ll move the active window around the screen.

Natural direction scrolling

The default behavior of the trackpad on early versions of Lion left some  people a little perplexed, because two finger scrolling was inverted! This mirrored iOS scrolling, but it simply isn’t natural for many. Now this option is selectable, but no longer the default one. Give it a go, it can be quite disorienting!

Reduce or enlarge

One of the many gestures inspired by iOS: placing two fingers (usually thumb and forefinger) on the trackpad and pushing them away you get a zoom-in of the screen. Pulling them near gives the opposite effect.

Smart Zoom

Another iPad and iPhone feature: with a double click with two fingers (usually the index and middle) on a web page, you zoom-in on the part where the mouse is located. A useful function to read more easily. Another double-click with two fingers brings back to the normal display.

Two finger rotation

Through a rotation of thumb and index finger on the trackpad you can rotate photos, or the page of the document you’re viewing.

Scroll through pages

One of the most natural gestures: making the gesture of leafing through the pages of a book on the trackpad, you can browse the pages of the document on the screen. You can choose to use two fingers, three fingers, or both interchangeably.

Browse full-screen apps

By sliding three or four fingers left and right on the trackpad, you can scroll through full screen applications. This allows you to work with the best possible view without sacrificing the convenience of “extreme multitasking.”

Mission Control

Dragging four fingers through the trackpap, Mission Control is launched, which provides thumbnails of all open windows grouped by application. Excellent for those who work with many programs simultaneously and must frequently go from one to another.

App Exposé

Dragging three (or four) fingers down, Exposé will create thumbnails of all open application windows that are active at the time of the command. It pretty much plays the same role of the previous gesture, but limiting it to only the application in the foreground.


With five fingers you launch the Launchpad, which contains all your applications. The display is identical to that of the iPad desktop, with icons aligned neatly on a grid. As with iOS, you can organize applications in folders by dragging them over each other, or over existing folders.

Show desktop

Put the thumb, index, middle and ring fingers on the trackpad, close to each other. Stretch your hand and let the fingers diverge. All the open windows will disappear, showing the desktop.

(Translated from OnSoftware IT)

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