Using Magic Trackpad instead of mouse

I have not added anything new on my blog for a long time, but changes are coming and it will be much better, I promise. Today I want to share my experiences related to moving from using a mouse to touchpad only. For a lot of people it may be something strange – it was strange for me when I decided to try that – but in reality, it has some interesting advantages. Of course not all usage scenarios are good to do something like that and not all hardware will be good enough to make such transition in an efficient way. 

First, the reasons. If you are a reader of my blog you know, I like minimalism in many, many various forms. We have used computers with mice for many years, but they always have some issues – the mouse must be complicated to be precise, must contain additional buttons and a wheel to provide comfort and flexible usage. All these things increase the chance of mechanical damage. I damaged a few mouses in my life, most of them because of wearing contact-sticks under the buttons. After that, accidental double-clicking or no-clicking happened. In some cases it’s pretty easy to self-repair, in some it isn’t, but I know one thing: it will happen. Always, it’s just a matter of time: if you use your mice often, buttons will stop working correctly someday. It’s weird that usually it happens after the guarantee period. 

Second thing is related to my health. For a few years I have had problems with trigger finger. The reason is not clear, but it may be related to the mouse and I want to try something else. I work with a computer a few hours each day and it can cause such symptoms. I’ve already got some injections, but they helped only for a limited time, like a year. When we use a trackpad, we use our hands and fingers in different ways, so it was supposed to be an experiment and a way to avoid surgery. I use Macbook Pro so I decided to buy a Magic Trackpad (v2). It’s almost identical to build-in Mac trackpad, it supports Force Touch, so it should help me in many ways: first, it can integrate with MacOS in perfect way, second, if I decided to use Mac outside, in train or something like that, my feelings and experiences should be very similar / almost identical to use a computer in home with external Magic Trackpad. Does it work? Yes, it works and it’s great.

First of all, gestures. It’s like on Apple ads: “amazing”. Yeah, amazing how comfortable trackpad gestures are. Almost all built-in gestures are very helpful in daily work. For example I use virtual desktops on separate screens all the time. With the mouse I had to bind some buttons to switch desktops, right now it’s just a three fingers swipe left or right and it’s done. Fingers up, and I have all apps windows visible and can switch between them easily. Zoom is also great and helps in many situations, it’s much, much better than zooming pages by percentages using keyboard shortcut. With a trackpad, it’s smooth, without steps which can limit us. 

Device is very fun to use – the surface is glass and great in touching and swiping. As I wrote before, moving to the trackpad should help me using MacBook during trips and it’s true. Right now I use the built-in trackpad every time, it’s very comfortable and I know exactly what and how I can achieve it. It’s great to not feel the difference when we make some changes in the environment, because we do not have to waste time to find good solutions. It just works. 

Of course a trackpad will be a very bad option in some situations. I do not like to select multiple files using that device – my habit is to click, select some area and release the button, like on a mouse. On the trackpad that operation is quite difficult and not comfortable. Also, just try to use things like Google Maps or Komoot with a trackpad… it’s possible, but difficult and frustrating – zoom gesture helps a lot, but moving by hand dragging on the screen is a real nightmare. If you need very big precision, a trackpad is definitely not for you and you should stick with a mouse. 

One additional bad thing, but it’s related exactly to Apple Magic Trackpad, probably not all similar devices: battery life. I thought it was better. It’s not bad, I have to charge the trackpad every ~2 weeks, but I thought it would be much better. My last Logitech mouse needs charging every… I really do not remember, 3 months? Something like that with very active usage. It’s like day and night and it’s strange for me, because in mice we have more mechanical elements, Magic Trackpad is also pretty big and should have better battery life. It’s not a big deal, but I have to mention that to be 100% candid.

I do not understand why Apple still uses the Lightning port to charge the Magic Trackpad. There is a USB-A to Lightning cable in the box but… MacBooks haven’t had any USB-A ports for a long time! It’s so stupid and we can observe similar situation in many other places: iPhone, some iPads, Magic Mouse. Completely mess and not user-friendly, not Apple-style. Another thing is about my finger issue: after a few months I’m not sure, but probably, it can’t help me. Using a Magic Trackpad all day is comfortable, but it didn’t resolve my issues, so I have to visit a doctor and probably I’m going to have an operation. 

Overall I think it was a good decision to try Magic Trackpad. It’s a very nice device, but pretty expensive in comparison to high-end mices and has some limitations. Right now I’m migrating to… Windows machine, so probably will also go back to using a mouse instead of a trackpad all the time. Of course you will find the next post about why I decided to migrate and a lot of reasons for this. 

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