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So what does this mean? Well, Apple included a few gestures in Leopard, then a few more in Snow Leopard, then a few more in Lion. You can go ahead and turn off most of the default gestures Apple gives you and re-program them how you want. BTT allows you to add almost as many gestures as you can think of and assign them any number of preconfigured actions or a shortcut key.
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So now, instead of having to move your cursor everywhere or even reach to your keyboard for a shortcut, you can just use your trackpad. For example, if you want to open and close tabs in your Internet browser, or go back and forward in your navigation history, you can do that with a gesture. Just program those shortcuts into gestures. This goes for any program. One limitation to gestures is that you inevitably run out of easy to remember and easily executed gestures.
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Will the next iteration of AppleTV be as disruptive as the iPod, iPhone and iPad I wonder, after earlier versions were essentially fan-boi only. What is BetterTouchTool? It essentially intercepts the taps, swipes and clicks, one, two, three or four fingers and lets you assign functionality to them. This can be global or application specific as you prefer.
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There is quite a range of choices available, including some predefined ones and a range of keyboard options. So, for example, I have a four finger swipe up is always expose to desktop, and a four finger swipe down is launch finder.
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Normally I don't use middle finger taps for anything, but if Safari is my active application, tapping in the middle of the mouse that's a left-right middle, still at the 'top' of the mouse will do a command-click to open the link in a new tab and two finger swipes to left and right will move me through tabs.
If I'm in nvAlt though, that same middle-tap will instead take me to the search bar much more useful in the circumstances. I'm considering a quit gesture, overridden in Finder with something else - but frankly that's probably a step too far, I use the keyboard quite happily after all. Perhaps three fingers down to paste, three fingers left for cut and three fingers right for copy I suspect another issue will be remembering what all the choices are!
You can add even more fun with modifier keys Fn as well as the more usual shift, command, control and alt and you can have them in combos too. That gives millions of possible choices per application. But a good slew general ones and a few app specific ones for my commonly used functions like that will be nice.
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But BBT is free, seems to work very smoothly and efficiently although it takes a minute or two for a new gesture to propagate and get established when you're creating them for specific apps and offers a nice interface for creating new functionality. All in all, well worth a look if you're on a mac. There are a couple of odd things. For example BTT installs as a preference pane, but runs much more smoothly from its menubar icon.
It offers a "tap over mouse icon" entry choice but I can't get this to work.
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And, perhaps understandably, if there's not a keyboard shortcut like changing panes in Safari you can't do it from the mouse. But for the price it's hard to complain about the extras it does offer.