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Mac OS X: Make Snow Leopard (and other cats) roar like Lion

Ryan Faas | April 16, 2011
Tips and tools for getting Lion-like features today.

First up are two tools that simply expand on Apple's existing multitouch features. MagicPrefs (free) and MouseWizard ($5) add support for multiple-clicking and augment the existing swipe/pinch/drag gestures; they also let you automate a wide variety of tasks, such as copying/pasting, switching Spaces and launching applications using the Magic Mouse.

Magic Prefs
MagicPrefs augments many multitouch gestures for Magic Mouse users.
Click to view larger image.

As of this writing, both of these products work only with Apple's Magic Mouse. Support for Apple's Magic Trackpad is planned for MagicPrefs, but no timetable for that addition is currently available.

Next up are more ambitious multitouch extenders. BetterTouchTool (free/donationware, currently in alpha) offers the ability to assign a number of custom gestures to perform a wide range of system tasks, including opening and closing windows, invoking Mac OS X features like Dashboard or Exposé, launching applications or websites, adjusting preferences such as sound and brightness, controlling iTunes, and mimicking specific key combinations or mouse functions such as right-clicking.

It works with Apple trackpads, the Magic Mouse and traditional multibutton mice; it can also be used to assign custom keyboard shortcuts.

Create custom gestures with BetterTouchTool.
Click to view larger image.

Jitouch ($6.99) functions with Apple trackpads and the Magic Mouse, and it includes a library of built-in multitouch gestures for each type of device. Both global and application-specific gestures are available to activate a variety of features and commands, such as switching applications, working with tabs in Safari, activating window controls (minimizing and moving window position, for example), switching Spaces and activating Exposé. Like BetterTouchTool, Jitouch also lets you assign custom gestures.

Another neat option is its support for character gestures; you can assign actions that are invoked by drawing a specific shape on the mouse or trackpad with your finger (similar to the stylus-based Grafitti input on older Palm OS devices). This allows for a lot of customization but is also something that can take a bit of getting used to (and thus isn't for everyone).

Keep in mind that while all of these tools are similar, each one has its own unique variations on what it does and how it functions. Choosing between them is generally a matter of individual taste and needs, including what devices you use. Therefore, you'll want to check out all these tools to find the one that works best for you.


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