I love my MacBook. I jumped ship from my Windows laptop to a Macbook Pro in 2012 and haven’t regretted it since. Everything’s just so easy once you get used to the new keyboard shortcuts and user interface. Once you got that down, everything just seems so simple compared to Windows. And if you have an iPhone and/or iPad, your Mac becomes even cooler with iMessaging and Call Forwarding. Or, I may just be another Apple fanboy. Probably the latter.
If you have a Mac, you probably already know about Mission Control and multiple desktops. If you didn’t know about this, you need to educate yourself, ESPECIALLY if you’re a multitasker. You can learn more about multiple desktops and Mission Control here.
The Problem With Generic Mice on Macs
A typical day at the office for me includes at least 10 desktops, running multiple programs: Chrome, iTunes, Spotify, TextEditor, Mailbox, an FTP client software, a text editing tool, Photoshop, Preview, Automator…and the list goes on. I also have Mac’s trusty sidekick: the Magic Mouse.
With the Magic Mouse, scrolling through my different desktops is a breeze and doesn’t slow down my workflow. You just swipe left or right with two fingers (or three I think, depending on what you have set in your Settings).
So when it’s time to call it a day, I head home and usually plug my MacBook into an external monitor and hook up my generic Microsoft Bluetooth mouse (at $80 bucks a pop, it just doesn’t make sense to purchase another Magic Mouse when I have my lame, but perfectly working, mouse). My generic mouse has 3 buttons: the left button, the right button, and the scroll wheel. That’s right, it’s not equipped with touch technology that lets you maneuver as easily as the Magic Mouse. So instead, I’m forced to press the F3 key on my keyboard to see my other desktops and then click on the one I want, like some kind of peasant.
If I had a Magic Mouse, I could swipe left or right to get where I need to be. It’s not a HUGE deal, but it’s annoying.
Introducing: The BetterTouch Tool
There’s a cool app for Macs called BetterTouch Tool. It lets you customize shortcuts on the keyboard, the Magic Mouse, the TouchPad AND even the generic mouse. This app is the trick to making your mouse ‘magic’.
Once you’ve got BetterTouch Tool installed head to its Preference settings.
On the bottom of the panel, click Add New Button.
In the grey section to the left, you can choose what button you want to use to activate the shortcut. I chose the inward click left (or Scroll Left, according to how BetterTouch Tool recognized this action) to Move Left a Space.
I did the same with the Scroll Right action to Move Right a Space. I added the Middle Mouse Button to just activate mission control, the same thing that the F3 button does on the keyboard.
That’s it – now, to perform the same action the two finger swipe left and right does on the Magic Mouse, I just click the Scroll Wheel on its right and left sides to swipe through my additional desktops. My workflow is now restored!
Be sure to check out the other options BetterTouch Tool has. There’s also a shortcut that lets you expand windows to be full screen, half screen, or even just 1/4 of the screen. But I’ll leave this for a future post.