MacBook (Pro) Touchpads: A Joy to Use. (a/k/a Scrolling TrackPad)

Apple’s “Scrolling TrackPads,” found in the MacBook and MacBook Pro, are flawless.

Some who have used HP or Dell touchpads may find this hard to believe. Here I respond to common questions and discuss what I love about Apple’s touchpads.

How can I right-click if it has just one button?

A good question, but this isn’t really an issue. To right-click, or use the “secondary click,” in Apple parlance, you have a couple easy options:

  • Hold Ctrl while clicking, or:
  • Go to System Preferences, Keyboard & Mouse, and then enable “two fingers + button secondary click” or something to that effect. Typically, to right-click when I’m on the road, I just place an extra finger down on the trackpad and then use my thumb to click the large single button. It’s very natural — I don’t even think about it.
  • Sometimes clicking and holding does the same thing (such as in the Dock).

How is an Apple TrackPad really so much nicer that Dell or HP touchpads?

Probably the most dramatic difference between Apple laptops’ touchpads and competitors’ is the two-fingers-to-scroll option (again in System Preferences; I think it’s on by default). It’s extremely useful. HP/Dell/Lenovo/Acer touchpads don’t have this. Some have little “scroll strips.” When I have to use such notebooks, I often find myself asking the owner how they can stand it. “I hate it too! I just click and drag the scollbar; it’s easier,” is the response I got. The scroll strips are horrible, aggravating, worthless technology. Every one I’ve ever used jumps around like crazy (and I’ve used quite a few, fixing friends’ Windows laptops).

A really elegant feature is that trackpad touches are ignored while the user is typing. This means no accidental mouse movement or clicks. If you want to, you can turn this off, though I see no reason to.

Another option for the trackpad is whether or not tapping the pad (as opposed to the button) fires a “click” or not. The button always clicks, of course. I assume most Windows notebooks have a similar option, but I just wanted to clarify that Apple’s all do. (Personally I always turn it off, because on any laptop, I find myself accidentally clicking otherwise.)


January 4th, 2008. (Updated: January 04, 2008 at 12:28pm.)
Alan Hogan (@alanhogan).  Contact · About