When you buy one of the best MacBooks, you know that Apple has introduced a lot of great trackpad gestures to help you navigate macOS quickly and easily. This is one of the best ways in which the company’s hardware and software work together.

There are a lot of macOS gestures, but there are a few that every Mac user should know about, which we’ve introduced here. Some you may have heard about, while some may be completely new to you. Anyhow, here’s our take on the best macOS trackpad gestures and how you use them.

how to open launchpad

A hand demonstrating trackpad gestures in macOS, with the thumb and three fingers moving together.
Apple

Whether you want to get a quick overview of your installed Mac apps or just launch something quickly, this gesture is invaluable. This opens the Launchpad app, which shows all your apps on a grid for quick access.

To do this, simply move your thumb and first three fingers together on your trackpad. To close Launchpad, simply move your fingers and thumb apart.

How to show your desktop

A hand demonstrating trackpad gestures in macOS, with the thumb and three fingers moving separately.
Apple

You can also do the reverse of the Launchpad gesture above. In macOS, spread your thumb and first three fingers apart and your open apps will move out of the way, revealing your desktop.

This is an easy way to find files and folders on your desktop that would otherwise be obscured by app windows. This is also a great way to drag a file from your desktop into an open app. Simply move your fingers and thumb apart, then click and drag the file onto the app’s icon in the Dock until it starts flashing. The app will return and you will be able to drop the file back into place.

How to drag files (better way)

A hand displaying trackpad gestures in macOS, with three fingers moving horizontally.
Apple

If you’ve ever tried to drag a file from one side of your screen to the other using your trackpad, you’ll know that it can be difficult, especially if you reach to the edge of your trackpad. Luckily, there’s a better way to do it.

open Adjustment App and select Accessibility > Pointer Controls > Trackpad Options, Able use trackpad to drag choose more three-finger drag From the dropdown menu.

This lets you move a file by placing the macOS pointer over it and using three fingers simultaneously, at which point the pointer ‘latches on’ and begins to move the file. The best part of this is that you can release the trackpad, and then drag with three fingers to move the file again. This means you can make multiple swipes at once and move the file around without having to keep your fingers on the trackpad, which isn’t always easy.

how to force click

In macOS, one hand displays a trackpad gesture, in which a finger presses down on the trackpad.
Apple

Apple’s trackpads let you ‘force click’ (or press slightly harder) to get additional functionality. It works really well and is definitely worth adding into your routine.

For example, if you force click a word on a word in Safari, you’ll see a pop-up window with the definition of the word. At the bottom of the window are other categories with additional information, like relevant movies, map data, Siri knowledge, and more.

It works on what Apple calls a “data detector”. These can be addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, web links – anything you can perform subsequent actions on in macOS. For example, force click on a link and you’ll get a pop-up preview of the web page. The many different uses of this gesture make it very useful to have at hand.

how to open mission control

A hand displaying trackpad gestures in macOS, with four fingers moving vertically upward.
Apple

Sometimes, you may find that your macOS screen is cluttered with too many apps and windows. This can make it difficult to locate an app you used a while ago without minimizing each window in the Dock one by one. However, a quick gesture solves this problem.

Swipe up with four fingers on your trackpad and you’ll open Mission Control, which shows every window currently open, letting you click the one you want. This gesture also reveals any virtual desktops you have open (more on that shortly).

How to hide all other apps

A hand displaying trackpad gestures in macOS, with four fingers moving vertically downwards.
Apple

While swiping up with four fingers shows all your open apps, sometimes you just want to focus on the app you’re using right now. To do this, it is necessary to swipe down with four fingers. This gesture (called App Expose) shows any open windows for the current app next to each other, a list of recent documents running at the bottom of your screen.

To make this gesture work, you need to enable App Exposé. open Adjustment app, then select Trackpad > More gestures, Next to App Expose, select Swipe down with four fingers From the dropdown menu (there’s also an option to swipe down with three fingers if you prefer).

how to switch desktop

A hand displaying trackpad gestures in macOS, with four fingers moving horizontally.
Apple

Mission Control is a great way to manage multiple desktops, and you can access it by swiping up with four fingers. But there’s actually a faster way to get to your desktop: Swipe left or right with four fingers on your trackpad.

Note that if you have multiple apps open in full-screen mode, this same four-finger drag will include them in your swipe through your desktop. For example, you might have Desktop 1, then a full-screen app, then Desktop 2, all linked by a four-finger swipe.






By Arumugam

Ganesan Arumugam is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering stories that resonate with readers worldwide. With a keen eye for detail and a commitment to journalistic integrity, Ganesan has contributed to the media landscape for over a decade, covering a diverse range of topics including politics, technology, culture, and human interest stories.