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Monday, August 6, 2007

Taming the Mac Trackpad

On a Mac portable, the trackpad is the smooth rectangular finger-licking surface below the keyboard — it's your laptop's answer to using a mouse. You can still use a regular mouse with a laptop, of course, and may prefer to do so if you're sitting at your regular desk. If you're sitting in tight quarters (like the coach section on a plane), the mouse is an unwelcome companion, especially to the passenger sitting next to you.

A trackpad (and the human beings who control it) has its own annoying idiosyncrasies. It may refuse to cooperate if you touch it coming out of the shower. Hand-lotions are also a no-no. A trackpad loathes moisture and humidity. If it does get wet, gently wipe it with a clean, dry cloth. Do not use any kind of household cleaning solution.

The best place to train a trackpad is in Keyboard and Mouse preferences. Choose Apple Menu --> System Preferences. (The Apple Menu is the Apple icon at the top left of the screen.) Next, under Keyboard and Mouse preferences, click Trackpad. The Keyboard & Mouse window appears.

Here are some of the things you can do in the Keyboard & Mouse window:

  • Drag the Tracking Speed slider to change how fast the pointer moves and the Double-Click Speed slider to set how fast you have to double-click.
  • If you want to click by tapping the trackpad surface, without having to press the trackpad button, select the Clicking option.
  • You can drag an item by tapping it twice, without having to hold down the button, by selecting the Dragging option.
  • Using two fingers on the trackpad surface will not move the cursor when you select the Ignore accidental trackpad input option.
  • If you plan on using a regular mouse, select the Ignore trackpad when mouse is present option.
  • Two-finger scrolling is a recent trackpad function not included on older models.

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