Lion Gestures: Trackpad vs. Magic Mouse

When Apple first included the trackpads on the Macbook Pros a few years ago, we got to use some gestures in the trackpad with Snow Leopard like two-finger scrolling and going back a page with a three-finger swipe, but the full potential of the trackpad gestures was not yet exploited as much as it could’ve been.

That is, until Lion came out last week with a handful of new and very useful trackpad and Magic Mouse gestures for pretty much anything you can imagine. With all the great gestures available for trackpad users, is the Magic Mouse providing a limited experience for Lion users? Let’s compare the available gestures for each one of them.

Magic Trackpad Gestures


Magic Trackpad

Two Fingers

Secondary Click

One of the oldest gestures is activating the secondary click by using two fingers instead of one. It saves time because you don’t have to hold the Control key when you want to bring up the submenu.


This has been implemented for quite a while now. Just drag down or up with two fingers to scroll through a webpage, without having to find and click on the scroll bar. In fact, the scroll bar is now hidden on most apps that are updated to work with Lion.

Pinch Zoom

You can pinch the trackpad with two fingers to zoom in or out when you are viewing something like a picture on Preview. It works with most things, like your browser; but it clearly works better with some than with others. If you use it for pictures on Preview it works very well, but with webpages it seems a bit slow.

Smart Zoom

You can as well, just double tap with two fingers and the content will be automatically zoomed in to fit perfectly in the window, much like iOS does when you double tap one finger over a piece of content.


This is also quite old. You can use your thumb and pointing finger to simulate a rotation that will make the picture or whatever that you are viewing rotate and change orientation.

Change pages

You can change pages in, say, a PDF document while in full screen by swiping two fingers left or right.

Three Fingers


Magic Trackpad

Look Up Words

You can look up any word that you might encounter by double tapping with three fingers. A small menu will come up with the definition of the word.

Move Windows

You can move the active window by using three fingers and swipe them around.

Switch between Full-screen apps

If you have more than one full-screen app open, you can swipe three fingers to the left or right to switch between all of them. This also works with Spaces.

Mission Control

By swiping three fingers up, you activate Mission Control, which is a cool combination between Exposé and Spaces.

App Exposé

By swiping three fingers down instead, you can see all the open windows of the selected app.



One of my favorite things about Lion is the Launchpad, which you can activate by pinching three fingers and your thumb. Launchpad will show you all your installed apps in a very iOS like manner, and you can even group them up in folders.

Show Desktop

You can also quickly wipe all your windows off the screen to show the desktop by “spreading” three fingers and your thumb; basically pinching the other way around.

Magic Mouse

Magic Mouse

Magic Mouse

Mission Control

With a two finger tap on the center of the Magic Mouse, you will bring up Mission Control with all your open windows and spaces. While in Mission Control, you can also swipe up with one finger to expand all the windows of one grouped app.

Switch Between Full-screen Apps

Like with the trackpad, you can switch between apps by swiping your fingers from left to right on the center of the mouse. This time it’s a two-finger gesture instead of three.

Going back to the previous page

One thing missing from the trackpad (that used to be there before Lion) is the ability of going back to a previous web page that you have open. With the Magic Mouse, you can do this with a very cool effect by wiping one finger from right to left.

Magic Mouse Gestures

Magic Mouse Gestures


The scrolling is also reversed here, and you can do it by swiping one finger on any direction.

Smart Zoom

It works just like with the trackpad, but to activate it you need to double tap with one finger instead of two.

Switch Spaces

Just like with the full-screen apps, you can switch spaces by swiping two fingers left or right. You can also get to the dashboard using this.


In the past, laptop pads were seen as a shortcoming. Now, they are better than mouses in some aspects. Some things might still be easier or faster with the Magic Mouse, but the number of available gestures for the trackpad can’t be ignored. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. I’ve worked with laptops for quite a while now so I’ve grown accustomed to using trackpads, and with the new gestures it has become even easier to use them. However, you might be even more accustomed to working with a mouse on a desktop computer, and might find it faster to find your way around your computer with your mouse.

As a matter of price, they both are $69 dollars if you buy them separately. I would hardly say that the Magic Mouse is going to disappear anytime soon. It might evolve into something else, but I don’t think Apple is going to stop making and selling mouses any time in the near future.

What do you think? Which one do you prefer? Can you imagine Apple discontinuing the Magic Mouse and just selling trackpads? Myself, I’m so used to working with trackpad multi-touch gestures that I wouldn’t go back to using a mouse, even if it has multi-touch too.

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