capsule review

MagicPrefs supercharges the Magic Mouse

At a Glance
  • Vlad Alexa MagicPrefs 1.8.2

    Macworld Rating

Apple’s Magic Mouse, with its multitouch functionality, is quite a step up from Apple’s previous models, but many users wish they could do more with that feature—the Magic Mouse’s multitouch surface is currently limited to scrolling, zooming the screen, and two-finger swiping (to, say, cycle through photos in Preview or iPhoto). Thankfully, just as a number of utilities such as Jitouch, BetterTouchTool, and MultiClutch have been released to increase the functionality of Apple’s multitouch trackpads, we’ve started to see similar utilities for the Magic Mouse. One of the best early options is MagicPrefs.

With MagicPrefs installed—it functions as a pane in System Preferences—you get a slew of new potential clicks and gestures. New clicks include two-, three-, and four-finger clicks, as well as a one-finger click along the middle of the mouse. There are similar tapping actions, where you lightly tap the mouse’s multitouch area—there's even one for tapping the stem of the Apple logo. You also get two- and three-finger swipes: up, down, left, and right. Finally, MagicPrefs provides two each of stem-dragging actions (left and right), two-finger pinches (in and out), and three-finger pinches (in and out).

Move your mouse cursor over a click or gesture’s entry and a display to the right shows that maneuver on an image of a Magic Mouse. A Real-Time Grapical Display option shows, on that image, how you’re touching the mouse; if you have trouble with a particular gesture, you can actually adjust the size of the recognized “touch” area accordingly.

The developer labels a number of the possible clicks and gestures as “potentially hard to use.” Having tried them, I mostly agree, although it’s worth noting that I find even the Magic Mouse’s stock two-finger sideways swipes awkward.

For each possible gesture, you choose whether or not to enable it and what action it should perform. The range of options for available actions is impressive: a number of types of clicks and click combinations; zooming; toggling Exposé, Spaces, and Dashboard; activating Quick Look, Spotlight, and other system features; and managing applications. You can also enable a Finger Pointer mode that turns the top of the Magic Mouse into a makeshift trackpad.

If these options aren’t enough, you can create custom actions that let you trigger keyboard shortcuts, launch an application, or run an AppleScript.

MagicPrefs also offers a few other Magic Mouse tweaks. The better-than-OS X controls for cursor-tracking speed and touch sensitivity will alone make MagicPrefs useful for many people. You can also customize scrolling for each of the one-, two-, three-, and four-finger gestures—on which axes scrolling is detected and the exact portion of the Magic Mouse on which they're recognized.

Once you’ve set up your Magic Mouse the way you want it, you can save those settings to a preset. You can configure multiple presets and then switch between them using the systemwide MagicPrefs menu. (Three stock presets—Default; Gaming; and Graphics, 3D, and CAD—are provided.)

Overall, MagicPrefs works well, giving you many more ways to take advantage of the Magic Mouse’s functionality. But the utility does require some restraint: There’s a risk of enabling conflicting options, as well as adding so many that you get lost in the swipes, taps, and clicks. Also, some action are strangely not available for all clicks and gestures; for example, I could use Command Left Click for any of the click options, but for none of the tap options.

If you’ve got a Magic Mouse and wish you could take better advantage of its technology, you owe it to yourself—and your mouse—to give MagicPrefs a try. Given that it’s free, what do you have to lose?

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At a Glance
  • Vlad Alexa MagicPrefs 1.8.2

    Macworld Rating
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