If you want to customize your mouse, trackpad, or keyboard controls, macOS lets you do that right out of the box. You can change keyboard shortcuts and change some gesture settings. But there are also a lot of things you can’t do – actions that can’t be assigned exactly the way you want them to be.
Fortunately, there are plenty of third-party apps out there that let you go beyond the limits of macOS, so there are a number of ways you can customize your Mac’s controls. Here are some of the best.
Despite the name, BetterTouchTool does much more than customize the touch controls on your trackpad or Magic Mouse. It can also be used to configure your Touch Bar, keyboard, regular mouse, Siri remote, etc.
For each of them, it offers a range of options. With the Magic Mouse, for example, you can change the behavior of clicks, swipes, pinch / zoom, skip areas, and multi-finger taps. You can also create your own keyboard shortcuts and record keystrokes.
With BetterTouchTool, you can easily configure actions, which are triggered by mouse buttons, keyboard combinations, and touch gestures. Actions range from taking a screenshot, turning off your Mac, to more complex series of inputs.
BetterTouchTool also includes some useful bonus features, including customizable window snapping, a clipboard manager, and a screenshot tool.
You can purchase a two-year license, a lifetime license, or get the app for free as part of the Setapp subscription service. The free trial lasts 45 days.
Download: BetterTouchTool ($ 8.50 for a two-year license, $ 20.50 for a lifetime license)
SteerMouse is a simple utility that adds to your system preferences. It does not support Apple Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad. Instead, it lets you customize the controls for non-Apple mice, which don’t always behave the way you expect them to in macOS. Side mouse buttons, for example, might not navigate back and forth in web browsers.
SteerMouse can customize up to eight mouse buttons, each of which can be assigned an action. This includes forward and reverse navigation controls, mission control actions, music controls, etc.
You can also customize the behavior of your mouse wheel and cursor. This includes mouse acceleration as well as cursor speed. Cursor snap, if enabled, automatically moves your cursor to the default button in dialog boxes.
SteerMouse has a 30 day trial period before purchasing a license.
Download: SteerMouse ($ 19.99, $ 12.99 for upgrade)
3. Jitouch 2
Jitouch 2 is an older app, which used to be chargeable but is now available for free. The last version released was a beta for Mojave, so keep in mind that it’s probably no longer supported.
If this is fine with you and Jitouch 2 works on your Mac, it might be worth a try if you want a free way to customize your Mac’s touch controls.
Jitouch 2 is a simple application that you access through System Preferences. It allows you to customize the trackpad and Magic Mouse controls, including button presses and swipes. You can assign actions to each of them.
With your trackpad or any mouse, you can also trigger actions by drawing letters on your screen. You can, for example, click and hold the right mouse button, then draw a “B”. This, by default, opens your web browser. All of this can be personalized however you want.
Download: Jitouch 2 (free)
4. Trackpad ++
In particular, Trackpad ++ is designed for Macs but not for macOS. It is a trackpad app for Boot Camp installations of Windows on MacBooks.
Apple already provides Windows drivers and tools for its trackpads, but Trackpad ++ goes further. It gives you more control over multi-finger gestures, better ability to ignore accidental input, improved scrolling, and greater pointer accuracy.
Trackpad ++ is completely free and currently supports MacBook models from mid 2009 to mid 2020.
Note that it does not support Apple’s Magic Trackpad or Magic Trackpad 2. For this, the same developer created ExtraMagic, which is also available for free.
Download: Trackpad ++ (free)
5. Maestro keyboard
Keyboard Maestro is a powerful customization and automation tool. You can use it to assign any number of actions to a particular key or keyboard combination. Examples include entering your email address, opening a particular webpage or app, changing a setting in an app, or just about anything you can think of.
With Keyboard Maestro you can create all kinds of complex macros, but it also lets you make more basic changes to the controls on your Mac.
Keyboard Maestro is not as immediately accessible as some of the other programs on this list. If you don’t need a full-fledged macro tool, you might be better off with something less complicated.
After the one-month trial period, you can purchase a Keyboard Maestro license, which covers this version. New major versions require a new license.
Download: Keyboard Maestro ($ 36, $ 25 for upgrade)
There are many built-in gestures already for the Magic Mouse and Apple trackpads, but Swish adds even more control to your touch gestures. It supports the Magic Trackpad, as well as the Magic Mouse.
With Swish, you can customize a variety of gestures, including swipes, pinches, and taps. You can use them to control windows and apps, as well as screens and spaces.
Swish is designed to be as stylish as possible, integrating seamlessly with macOS. It’s not as powerful as BetterTouchTool, but it’s simpler. The developer of Swish suggests using them next to each other.
Like BetterTouchTool, you can purchase a license for Swish or get it as part of a Setapp subscription.
Download: Swish ($ 9)
7. Carabiner elements
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Karabiner Elements is a free program that allows you to customize your keyboard input.
You can make simple edits, like changing one key to another key, but more complex edits are also possible. You can also use a key combination to return a single character. This would be useful if you had to enter an unusual character that is not available on your keyboard.
In addition, you can apply different settings to different keyboards. You can also create multiple profiles. It doesn’t matter who uses your Mac, on which keyboard, they can have their own settings.
Download: Karabiner Elements (free)
Which app should you use to customize your Mac commands?
Some of these apps are relatively straightforward, while others are much more complicated. SteerMouse, for example, simply focuses on improving the performance of third-party mice on Macs. Swish does something similar for Mac trackpads.
BetterTouchTool and Keyboard Maestro are much more powerful tools. They allow you to use key combinations and gestures not only for basic commands, but also for more complex actions. You can also run macros to automate all kinds of tasks. It’s a great way to deal with actions that you repeat often. You can also use these tools to customize a third-party keyboard on your Mac.
If you want a free app to customize your Mac’s controls, there aren’t many options. Karabiner Elements works for keyboard commands. Touchpad ++ and ExtraMagic work fine but are limited to Boot Camp. If you want to customize your trackpad in macOS without paying, Jitouch 2 will work, but it is no longer updated, so it may not work with newer Macs.
Which app you choose also depends on whether you’re using a Magic Mouse, a third-party mouse, or a Magic Trackpad. There are many reasons why each of these might be better than the others, so you may want to consider making changes to them before purchasing any customization software.
Here are several reasons why the Magic Trackpad is better than the Magic Mouse and why you should consider buying one.
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