BetterTouchTool lets you bind any gesture you can think of to any action you can think of. It’s like AutoHotKey on Windows, but in addition to keyboard shortcuts, you can also greate gesture shortcuts for your trackpad. BetterTouchTool has a simple configuration interface so that you can get started with customized gesture shortcuts right away.

BetterTouchTool isn’t just for trackpads either—it supports shortcuts for your keyboard, magic mouse, Apple TV remote, and even the MacBook Pro’s Touchbar. While the app isn’t free, $6.50 is not bad for such a powerful app. There’s also a 45-day trial, so you can test it out and see if you like it. We’re guessing that after giving it a spin, you won’t want to go back to stock macOS.

Adding Gestures

After downloading and installing BetterTouchTool, it’s time to start adding gestures. Open up the settings and click “Add New Gesture” under the “Trackpads” tab. You can use the sidebar at the left to choose whether you want to add gestures globally or only within in a specific app.

A gesture has two parts: a trigger and an action. You can link the trigger to any gesture, and the app supports pretty much every gesture you could want—click down and swipe up with three fingers, force-click with two fingers, click in the corner of the trackpad and drag in, and you even can configure custom triggers.

Select the trigger you want from the menu. For this example, we’re going with “3 Finger Click.”

Next comes the action, and like triggers, the app has everything covered. You can do something as simple as bind the gesture to a keyboard shortcut. You also can browse a long list of actions that includes controlling other apps, moving the mouse around, performing system actions, and even executing shell scripts.

I have a gesture set to disconnect and reconnect from WiFi, which for anyone interested, is just a gesture set to run this terminal command:

networksetup -setairportpower en0 off && networksetup -setairportpower en0 on

The possibilities are nearly endless. Because of this, the learning curve can be a bit high, so figuring everything out takes some time and experimentation.

For our example we’re going to set the three-finger click trigger we chose previously to take the action of opening Finder.

After setting this action up, go ahead and give it a try. Click down with three fingers, and Finder should open.

Well, not quite. Our action actually just focuses Finder and doesn’t open a new window. Thankfully, BetterTouchTool has us covered. Click the gesture you created, click “Attach Additional Action,” and set that additional action as the keyboard shortcut Command+N. Now, your three-finger click should focus Finder and open a new window.

You can chain together actions like this to achieve anything you want. Sure, the solution here might not be pretty, but it works, and that’s what matters in the end.

Exploring Other Settings

BetterTouchTool has a lot of other customization settings, too. One of these is configuring the ease of triggering gestures, which can be useful if you have a problem with the wrong gestures triggering.

BetterTouchTool also offers Windows-style window snapping as an option—that’s where you drag a window to the sides or corners of your screen to resize and snap the windows into place.

There’s a lot more in the advanced settings to play with, including full customization of that window snapping, a built-in web server for triggering actions remotely, and even this full control panel that provides control over everything Haptic feedback does and the way your trackpad feels.

You can even configure custom clicks to make it sound different. Overall, with all the features offered by BetterTouchTool, you can surely find something in your daily routine to speed up with a gesture or shortcut.

Profile Photo for Anthony Heddings Anthony Heddings
Anthony Heddings is the resident cloud engineer for LifeSavvy Media, a technical writer, programmer, and an expert at Amazon's AWS platform. He's written hundreds of articles for How-To Geek and CloudSavvy IT that have been read millions of times.
Read Full Bio »