Mac Trackpad Tips 3/3

Customizing the Trackpad, Part 3: More Gestures.
(Part 1, Part 2)

In the final set of Trackpad Preferences, you’ll find many powerful gestures for navigating within and between applications, viewing notifications, and more.

Swipe between pages works in Safari and is the same as hitting the back (or forward) button. You will likely use this gesture more than any other in this set.

Swipe between pages

If you place apps in full-screen mode (Command+Control+f) you can easily use a three-finger swipe to move among them.

Swipe between full-screen apps

The Mac Notification Center is similar to that on the iPhone and iPad except that you swipe from the right instead of the top.

Notification Center

The Mission Control gesture shows you all open apps. Those in full-screen mode are shown along the top as icons. The rest are shown in miniature version on the desktop. Bonus tip: you can three-finger swipe among them.

Mission Control

Similarly, App Exposé shows you all the open windows within one app. To see this in action, press Command+N in Safari or the Finder a few times and then swipe down with three fingers. (Note, this doesn’t work in full-screen mode.)

App Exposé

Launchpad gives you the look of apps similar to an iPhone or iPad. I don’t find it useful. But you may like it. And then this gesture is for you.


Last, Show Desktop, is great if you prefer to have folders and files right on the desktop. It doesn’t work with full-screen apps however.

Show Desktop

As you have probably concluded, there is a wide variety of ways to use gestures to navigate around your Mac. Until you’ve got muscle memory on most of them, I recommend working in one of two ways: all apps in full-screen mode or none of them.

I hope you’ve found this three-part exploration of the Trackpad useful. As always, please leave suggestions for other topics you’d like me to cover in the comments.