After using my MacBook’s awesome, massive trackpad recently, I’ve become increasingly annoyed that I can’t use my four finger swipes and such on my desktop computer. I’ve been starting to think that perhaps a massive trackpad would actually be a better input device than a mouse.

Apparently Apple aren’t quite at that point yet, and so have tried to make a mouse trackpad. Still, I couldn’t quite resist it, and have picked one up. Here’s my mini review.


  • Let’s get it out of the way to begin with: it does look awesome.
  • It moves about nicely, in the sense that it moves as well as any optical mouse I’ve used.1
  • Scrolling is pretty awesome for someone who’s come from a 1-d scroll wheel. No more shift-scrolling. Also, it can scroll “with momentum”, allowing you to flick your finger across it with force and let it scroll happily away by itself (and be stopped if you put your finger back down), a la iPhone.
  • It’s raised from the ground by two easily cleaned plastic strips. Previously I’ve only ever used mouses with four little rubber sections that gather caked-on dust. I don’t anticipate this problem here.


  • When you’re moving your fingers across a trackpad, you can move your whole hand. No such luck with a mouse; some of your fingers have to stay behind to keep the whole thing from moving. Not quite as comfortable.
  • The surface resembles the glass of the iPhone more than the slightly less shiny surface of my MacBook Pro trackpad. If you’ve got clammy hands, therefore, the scrolling doesn’t come as easily.
  • In comparison to the glorious set of trackpad options you get given by Apple, the Magic Mouse’s preference pane has only four options, with the only obvious multi-touch option being two-finger swipes, and only left and right. The surface of the mouse is smaller than a trackpad, so I understand a reluctance to offer more options, but two and three finger swipes up and down are easily manageable (three-finger swipes left and right are a bitch though).
  • No middle click!

Extra Bits

Luckily for those last two cons, people are already working on ways to get around the lack of customisation:

  • Middle-click. If all you’re after is a middle click, Clem has your solution. Simple and works well.
  • BetterTouchTool has far more options (including middle click). I’ve found it a little ropey so far–my two-finger swipes in Firefox keep getting forgotten–but if you want some excessive customisation, this is for you, and it’s under very active development. I should point out that it’s based on…
  • MultiClutch, which I’m still using on my MacBook Pro, but which needs a bit of fiddling about to work with Snow Leopard, as per Prashant’s forked build and SIMBL plugin.

So, in conclusion, I’m afraid I still want a giant trackpad. The Magic Mouse is cute, but it’s the child of two worlds and fits comfortably in neither (except, not as cool as that sounds). If I could change just one thing about it, it’d be making the surface less glossy. Actually, if I’m getting wishes, I’d probably go for less clammy hands, but you get the point.

  1. I’d actually just about forgotten about ball mice until I wrote that.

2 Responses to “Magic”

  1. As of version 3.2.4, BetterTouchTool seems to have become quite reliable. The Magic Mouse is a whole lot more magical suddenly.

  2. Should I buy one, then?