Review: BetterTouchTool

I am a shortcut-addict. Right now my drugs of choice are the superb Keyboard Maestro and Apple’s built-in Spotlight. Now that I bought my new (well, new-ish refurbished) Macbook Pro, I’ve been frustrated by my trackpad and the limited vocabulary of available useful gestures and the overwhelming vocabulary of gestures I don’t think I’ll ever actually use.

While Safari’s pinch-to-overview tabs is nifty, it’s slow and annoying. I just want to flip between tabs and I don’t want to have to reposition my hands from their “scroll au natural” baseline.

Enter BetterTouchTool ($7, with adjustable pricing). It’s basically Keyboard Maestro for trackpads and within minutes, I was set up with my new touch-then-tap to flip tabs. It was exactly what I needed and my money was soon winging its way through Paypal.

Like Keyboard Maestro, you can set the scope of the gesture to be universal or a single app. It offers a wide range of gesture customization, and you can set it up to activate menu items, take screenshots, mimic the built-in gestures with different touch styles, and more.

If you want to give it a full test ride, the developer offers a 45 day try-before-you buy. For me, it solved a problem that needed solving, it worked, and I was sold.


  • You don’t use Alfred, Erica. ?

    • I used to use Alfred until 10.11 when they improved Spotlight to the point that it does everything that I used Alfred for.

  • Another vote for Alfred, a touch-typist’s dream.

  • It is worth noting that BetterTouchTool also does keyboard shortcuts, as well as trackpad gestures that you mentioned (and several other input devices as well).

    One trick that I haven’t seen mentioned much is that if you assign multiple actions to the same gesture/shortcut, it will pop up a menu of those options.

    Also, if you want to take serious control over your keyboard, I recommend Karabiner for remapping keys (including powerful things like making shift keys type parentheses when you just tap them quickly on their own—extremely convenient when programming)!

    I also use Seil for even lower-level adjustments (eg. repurposing Caps Lock, which I set to Esc when tapped and Cmd-Opt-Ctrl when held), and long ago I created a custom keyboard layout (which I still use) in Ukelele that lets me easily type things sᴉɥʇ ǝʞᴉʅ (also Γρεεκ and math ½∈∅⋃ℚ).