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Change this annoying trackpad setting right now on your Mac

Your MacBook has the tap-to-click turned off by default. Here's why you should turn it on.

Apple introduced the M1 chip back in November 2020, and with major upgrades made this year (the M1 Pro and M1 Max), these powerful processors have been game-changers ever since. The M1 Macs are more powerful and consume less battery than ever before, making them some of the best computers you can buy, but having unboxed and set up many MacBooks over the past 15 years, there's one settings choice that drives me absolutely crazy.

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Naomi Antonino/CNET

If you're buying a new MacBook, received one as a gift or want to make your current one a little more useful, you should try clicking a few boxes in the System Preferences menu that always make these machines much more useful. 

One of the best things about MacBooks has always been the huge glass trackpad, which always felt more responsive and offered more surface area than the touchpad on any Windows laptop. The difference has narrowed over the years, but it's still hard to beat a Mac trackpad. However, it makes me nuts to see (and hear) people clicking down on their touchpads to do anything. Guess what? These touchpads haven't physically depressed when clicked on for years. Instead a clever bit of haptic feedback makes it feel like you've clicked down. 

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Turn this on, even if you're not going to use it all the time. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Windows laptops have long been set up for tap-to-click, which means a simple tap of your finger works the same way as a left mouse button (or ancient touchpad button) click would. A two-finger tap is the equivalent of a right mouse button click. 

But every time I set up a new Mac, I spend several minutes vainly tapping on things with no effect, because MacOS has tap-to-click turned off by default. Why? I'm assuming it's just to make my life more difficult. Fortunately, it's easy to fix. And if you're a determined clicker and have no intention of becoming a tapper, that's OK -- change these settings and you can still click away, but now the tapping will work, too. 

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The supersecret hidden tap-and-drag settings menu. 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

As a bonus, while we're doing this we're going to turn on both Exposé, which is a very useful multifinger gesture, and tap-and-drag, which is a much easier way to move things like folders around on the screen. 

Fix Apple's dumb default touchpad settings:

  • System Preferences > Trackpad >  Point & Click > Check the checkbox for Tap to click (which is unchecked by default). 
  • System Preferences > Trackpad > More Gestures > Check the checkbox for App Exposé (fifth checkbox from the top).
  • System Preferences > Accessibility > Pointer Control > Trackpad Options > Check the checkbox for Enable dragging (without drag lock).

That's it, your MacBook is now set up in a logical way. 

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