Improving the Mac Laptop Touchpad

No doubt about it, I really enjoy my Apple Macbook. Previously I owned an Apple G4 Powerbook 15″ which was also a great machine. However, my single biggest complaint about both laptops was the touchpad, that little square that substitutes for a mouse. Having used both mice (mouses?) and touchpads on Windows-based laptops, I have found it awkward to use the Mac’s pad.

Why? Two reasons:

  • First, the Macs have only one button and it is used for left-clicking. To right-click for the drop-down menus you have to hold down a keyboard key while clicking that single button. Not only is it different than with a Windows mouse or touchpad it is also inconvenient and awkward in my opinion (and I keep forgetting the key to hold down).
  • Second, to scroll down a webpage or document you drag TWO fingers down the right edge of your touchpad, while only one finger is needed on Windows machines.

Solution! A brilliant little piece of software from Raging Menace called SideTrack addresses these problems plus provides some other nifty features as well. Here is how it is described by the software creator:

SideTrack is a replacement driver for Apple MacBook, MacBook Pro, PowerBook and iBook trackpads. With SideTrack installed your standard trackpad becomes a powerful multi-button scrolling mouse.

Leave your external mouse at home and take full control over your trackpad:

  • Vertical scrolling at left or right edge of pad.
  • Horizontal scrolling at top or bottom edge of pad.
  • Map hardware button to left or right click.
  • Map trackpad taps to no action, left click, left click drag (with or without drag lock), or right click.
  • Map trackpad corner taps to mouse buttons 1-6 or simulated keystrokes.
  • Extensive control over accidental input filtering.

With SideTrack I use one finger down the right edge of my touchpad to vertical scroll. A tap on the pad surface acts like a right click. I love it!

The software can be downloaded and tried for free. Periodically it will remind you it is shareware and the author would appreciate you paying $15 to register it. When you do the reminders go away. I have now bought it twice, once for each Mac laptop I have had. It installs easily and is updated as new Macs come out. It is well worth the money!

One Response to “Improving the Mac Laptop Touchpad”

  1. Tom Rogers Says:

    My G4 laptop has just broken its right hinge, two years ago it was the left one, to me that means it is replacement time. I really like the looks of the Mini and was browsing around looking for a keyboard with a touchpad when I saw your description of the perfect touchpad! Is there a keyboard that it can be used with – preferably wireless? Or is there a free-standing touch pad that this software can modify?

    At present I’m using the G-4 with its lid stuck open (it won’t close) and running 10.3 while waiting for Snow Leopard to arrive. For the modest fee I’m going to download the SideTrack software now
    despite my other problems.

    Many Thanks,
    Tom