Geek insider, geekinsider, geekinsider. Com,, apple magic trackpad: a comprehensive guide, mac

Apple Magic Trackpad: A Comprehensive Guide

I love my Magic Trackpad.

I also love my Mac, iPhone, iPad, and even still use an old iPod (albeit for a controller for a medical implant).

I’ve had a hate/hate relationship with Microsoft products for over 2 decades.

My online life started in 1998 with an old Windows computer and from that moment until 2014, I used Windows/Android products exclusively. And HATED every moment of it. I started off hand-coding HTML and I can’t tell you how many keyboards I smashed thanks to the “blue screen of death” or any number of other excruciating errors.

And then I went to work for Apple and my online life was changed forever!

It all started when they sent me an iMac for my work from home customer service position. Then, since I was providing support for the product and they offered us a considerable discount, I bought an iPhone.

I’ve never looked back since.

So, when someone asked me the other day how much I liked my Apple Magic Trackpad, I quickly touted my love of it and all Apple products. However, I wanted to give them more information but after glancing around online, I was surprised to find that the info available was just, well, MEH.

We can’t have that now can we?

Well, if you’re thinking about purchasing a Mac computer or Magic Trackpad, this article will reveal all. We’ll take a look at the features, discuss how to use it, compare the Apple Magic Trackpad 1, & 2, the pros and cons, and much more.

In other words, if you’re looking for information about the Magic Trackpad, this comprehensive guide will have the answer.

Let’s get started…

A Brief History of Apple Input Devices

Apple’s journey with input devices dates back to the release of the Apple Lisa in 1983, which featured the first mouse sold by the company. The Macintosh Mouse, launched alongside the original Macintosh in 1984, boasted a one-button design that set the standard for almost two decades. However, the landscape of input devices began to change in 1998 with the introduction of the Apple USB Mouse, often referred to as the “Hockey Puck” due to its unique round shape. Apple’s innovations continued with the release of the Apple Pro Mouse in 2000, sporting an optical tracking system rather than the conventional ball mechanism. 

In 2005, Apple unveiled the Mighty Mouse, its first multi-control device with a Scroll Ball, right-click, and programmable side buttons. This was subsequently replaced by the Magic Mouse in 2009, which incorporated multi-touch gestures, much like those of the iPhone. A significant change arrived with the announcement of the Magic Trackpad in 2010, a standalone trackpad for desktop Macs that supported the full set of multi-touch gestures. This was a pivotal moment as it signaled a clear move to incorporate the touch-based interface of Apple’s mobile devices into its desktop environment. Apple has since released two more generations of the Magic Trackpad, refining its design and functionality with each new model.

Magic Trackpad Design and Features

The Apple Magic Trackpad boasts an exceptional design that’s both sleek and user-friendly. Clad in frosted glass and a silver aluminum shell, the device measures approximately 4.5 inches by 5.1 inches, providing an ample area for multi-touch gesture controls. It fits comfortably on a desk alongside your keyboard, minimizing hand movements during use.

The trackpad stands 0.7 inches tall at its highest point, sloping gently down to the desk surface. This design choice not only gives it a visually appealing low profile but also enhances the ergonomics, making multi-touch gestures feel natural and strain-free.

One of the key features of the Magic Trackpad is its Force Touch technology. It’s designed to distinguish between different levels of pressure, enabling a range of new gestures such as the “Force click” — a click followed by a deeper press for tasks like previewing files or opening new tabs. The trackpad also houses a Taptic Engine, offering responsive and tactile feedback as you interact with your Mac, making it feel like you’re clicking a physical button even though there’s no actual “click” mechanism.

In terms of connectivity, the Magic Trackpad uses Bluetooth technology, offering a stable and wireless connection to your Mac. It also includes a built-in rechargeable battery, which eliminates the need for traditional batteries and can be charged using a Lightning to USB cable.

The Magic Trackpad also brings all the familiar multi-touch gestures from Apple’s laptops to the desktop environment, like pinching to zoom, swiping between web pages, and scrolling through documents. The large surface area and precision tracking make these actions effortless, giving you a high level of control over your navigation and productivity tasks.

The magic trackpad rocks

Using the Apple Magic Trackpad

Setting up and Connecting the Magic Trackpad

Setting up the Magic Trackpad is straightforward. Once the device is charged, switch it on by pressing the button located on the back. The LED on the front of the device will blink, indicating it’s ready to pair. On your Mac, navigate to the Apple menu, select ‘System Preferences’, then ‘Bluetooth’. When the Magic Trackpad appears in the list of devices, click ‘Connect’. The LED will stop blinking once the device is successfully paired with your Mac.

Basic Gestures and Their Functions

The Magic Trackpad supports a wide range of multi-touch gestures that make navigating your Mac feel intuitive and fluid. Here are a few basic gestures:

  • Click: Tap with a single finger to click.
  • Right-click: Tap with two fingers to right-click.
  • Scroll: Slide two fingers up or down to scroll through documents or web pages.
  • Zoom: Pinch in or out with two fingers to zoom in or out.
  • Swipe: Swipe left or right with two fingers to navigate between pages or fullscreen apps.

Advanced Gestures and Customization Options

For more advanced navigation, the Magic Trackpad offers several gestures:

  • Mission Control: Swipe up with three fingers to open Mission Control, which shows an overview of all open windows, desktop spaces, and full-screen apps.
  • App Expose: Swipe down with three fingers to view all windows of the app you’re currently using.
  • Swipe between full-screen apps: Swipe left or right with three fingers to switch between full-screen apps or desktops.

You can also customize these gestures to suit your personal preferences. In the ‘System Preferences’ menu, under ‘Trackpad’, you can enable or disable specific gestures and adjust the tracking, scrolling, and double-click speed. Additionally, the ‘More Gestures’ tab allows for further customization of multi-touch gestures, ensuring the Magic Trackpad truly enhances your Mac experience.


Other Apple Input Devices

When compared to other Apple input devices such as the Magic Mouse, it holds its own. While the Magic Mouse also supports multi-touch gestures, the surface area is significantly smaller due to its design as a traditional mouse, making the Magic Trackpad a more intuitive choice for users who frequently use gestures. Furthermore, unlike the Magic Mouse’s requirement of moving the entire device to navigate, the stationary design of the Magic Trackpad can be more comfortable and efficient for extended use.

The Magic Trackpad also outshines the traditional Macbook trackpad in terms of size. With a larger surface area, the Magic Trackpad allows for a wider range of gestures, and can be particularly beneficial for creative professionals that require precise control for tasks like photo editing or graphic design.

Compatibility with Different Devices

The Magic Trackpad is compatible with any Mac running OS X v10.6.4 Snow Leopard or later with a Bluetooth 4.0-enabled Mac. This includes most iMac, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air models released in the last decade, ensuring seamless integration with your existing Apple hardware.

In terms of non-Apple devices, while the Magic Trackpad can technically connect to any Bluetooth-enabled device, the multi-touch gestures are specifically designed to work with Apple’s built-in software and may not function as intended on non-Apple devices.

There have been instances of users successfully using the Magic Trackpad with various versions of Windows and Linux, but this typically requires additional driver software and doesn’t guarantee access to all features. Therefore, while possible, using the Magic Trackpad outside of the Apple ecosystem isn’t officially supported and may require additional configuration.

The Differences Between Them

Magic Trackpad 1

The Magic Trackpad 1, the pioneer of the series, was introduced in 2010. It brought Apple’s multi-touch functionality to the desktop environment for the first time. The device operates on two AA batteries and connects to your Mac via Bluetooth. Its build, mostly aluminum with a glass surface, is both durable and stylish, fitting seamlessly into the Apple aesthetics. However, this model only has the ability to register single-level clicks and doesn’t offer the Force Touch technology found in later models.

Magic Trackpad 2

Apple launched the Magic Trackpad 2 in 2015, five years after the debut of the original model. The second iteration brings significant improvements over its predecessor. Notably, it introduces Force Touch technology to the desktop for the first time, offering new levels of functionality and interactivity. The Magic Trackpad 2 also features a 30% larger surface area, providing more room for gesture-based navigation. Unlike the Magic Trackpad 1, this model comes with a built-in rechargeable battery, eliminating the need for AA batteries. It also introduces a flatter, wedge-shaped design, aligning it more closely with the aesthetics of contemporary Apple products.

Magic Trackpad 3

As of writing, Apple has not yet released a Magic Trackpad 3. Details about this potential future product are speculative at best. It’s reasonable to anticipate that any future iteration of the Magic Trackpad would build upon the advancements of the Magic Trackpad 2, potentially incorporating new technologies and design updates according to Apple’s evolving product landscape. However, without official information, any discussion regarding a Magic Trackpad 3 would be largely conjectural.

Pros & Cons of the Apple Magic Trackpad


The Apple Magic Trackpad provides several advantages that can significantly enhance your productivity and navigation experience on a Mac:

  • Ease of Use: With multi-touch gestures, navigating through your Mac becomes more intuitive and efficient. The gestures mimic natural hand movements, making interaction with your device feel more organic.
  • Precision: The Magic Trackpad provides high-precision tracking, which can be particularly beneficial for tasks that require fine control, such as graphic design or photo editing.
  • Wireless Connectivity: The Bluetooth technology enables a neat, wire-free workspace, and the connection is stable and reliable.
  • Environmentally Friendly: The built-in rechargeable battery eliminates the need for disposable batteries, contributing to a greener environment.
  • Larger Surface Area: Compared to the Magic Mouse and traditional MacBook trackpad, the Magic Trackpad offers a larger surface area for gestures, offering improved ease of use.

Potential Cons

Despite its numerous advantages, some potential drawbacks and issues may arise when using the Apple Magic Trackpad:

  • Price: The Magic Trackpad is relatively expensive compared to other input devices, which may deter some potential users.
  • Limited Compatibility Outside Apple: While technically the Magic Trackpad can connect to any Bluetooth-enabled device, the multi-touch gestures are specifically tailored for Apple software, and functionality might be limited on non-Apple devices.
  • Learning Curve: For users transitioning from a traditional mouse, there can be a learning curve to become comfortable with the multi-touch gestures.
  • Ergonomics: While the design of the Magic Trackpad is sleek and modern, some users may find the flat surface less ergonomically friendly for prolonged use compared to a traditional mouse.
  • Battery Life: Although the built-in battery is rechargeable, some users have reported that the battery life isn’t as long-lasting as they’d like, requiring frequent recharging.


In conclusion, the Apple Magic Trackpad is a revolutionary device that redefines the user interface experience. Its intuitive design, advanced multi-touch gestures, and large surface area make it an ideal choice for those looking to boost their productivity and interact with their Mac in a more dynamic way. However, it’s not without its challenges – the price point may be a hurdle for some, and the ergonomic design may not suit everyone’s preference.

As a personal take, the Magic Trackpad’s potential to transform how we interact with our digital workspace, particularly for creative professionals, makes it an appealing investment. However, understanding its full capabilities and getting the hang of the gestures may take some time. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those willing to embrace the change, the Magic Trackpad could indeed be, well, ‘magic’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *