Kill these 4 trackpad settings to get more from your MacBook mouse

MacBook's trackpad is already great but you can make it better.

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops, desktops, all-in-one PCs, streaming devices, streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
2 min read
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I switched to a MacBook years ago for two reasons: MacOS (OS X, at the time) felt more stable (fewer freezes and crashes) and less paranoid (fewer warnings and updates) than Windows, and the MacBook trackpad felt more responsive and less skittish than any Windows laptop I had tried.

Over the years, Apple has added new features and gestures to the trackpad. For my money, it's still the best laptop trackpad in the business, but it's not perfect out of the box, but it comes close with some small adjustments.

To tweak your MacBook's trackpad settings, open System Preferences and click Trackpad. Then get rid of these four settings.

1. Pinch to zoom

I accidentally use this gesture all the time. I'll try to scroll down a web page but instead zoom in wildly, which leaves me sitting there trying to remember how to return to the normal zoom level. Since I use this setting by accident much more frequently than by design, it's the first one I disable. To do so, click on the Scroll & Zoom tab in Trackpad settings and uncheck the box for Zoom in or out: Pinch with two fingers.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

2. Tap to click

Here's another trackpad setting I use accidentally more than intentionally. I don't want the MacBook to think I'm trying to click on something each time my finger brushes up against the trackpad. If I want to click, then I'll click. Head to the Point & Click tab and uncheck the box for Tap to click: Tap with one finger.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

3. Swipe between pages

On the More Gestures tab, you'll find a host of three- and four-finger gestures. I leave all of these gestures enabled except the first: Swipe between pages: Scroll left or right with two fingers.

It's possible to change this gesture from two to three fingers, which might stop you from accidentally using it as often, but I disable it. I'm already used to navigating forward and back in Chrome or Safari with the forward and back buttons. It's also too easy to switch pages by accident when attempting to scroll sideways on large Google Sheets spreadsheets if I leave this setting on.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

4. Natural scroll direction

MacOS sets you up to scroll in what it calls a natural scroll direction, but it feels quite the opposite to me. If you head back to the Scroll & Zoom tab, you can uncheck the box for Scroll direction: Natural, which I think feels more natural when scrolling through documents and web pages with two fingers.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET