This week's focus on Mac Automation Tips is about using the power of multi-touch finger gesture actions in BetterTouchTool (Free). If you're new to program, there's several features you might not yet be aware of.
BTT is such a powerful trackpad and Magic Mouse program that it should remain in your dock, because once you know how to use it, you'll be creating finger gesture actions on a regular basis.
App Specific Actions
You may already know this, but in case you don't, finger actions can be added to specific applications, so that those gestures only work when the assigned application is in the forefront. This also enables finger gestures, such as the easy Three Finger Tap, to be used in more than one application for different purposes, instead of globally.
Click the + button in the Select Application column, add the application, and then create your actions.
BTT Context Menu
BTT actually allows for assigning the same finger gesture to different actions. When this is done, the titles (Notes) for each action appear in a pop-up context menu so you can choose the one you want to apply.
Multiple Action Gestures
BTT can perform multiple actions with a single finger gesture. After you create new action, click on the “Attach Additional Action” button to add another action.
For example, I use the Three Finger Swipe Down to delete a single word that's right behind my cursor. I mostly use this action when I'm proofreading reading an article and I don't want to always take my hand off the trackpad to hit the delete key several times to delete a word. As you can see in the above screenshot, the delete word action consists of the keyboard shortcut for first selecting the word behind the cursor, and then two more actions are added to delete the word.
When you want BTT to perform multiple actions, identity and add the menu items or keyboard shortcuts you use to perform the actions. Add those shortcuts and/or actions in the order they need to be activated. If need be, you can add a Delay Next Action for a short specified time so that BTT can effectively trigger the actions.
Assign Keyboard Shortcuts
While you can apply keyboard shortcuts to menu items in the Mac System Preferences, you can also do it in BTT.
Click on the Keyboard button the BTT editor, and from there add a Predefined Action trigger. I typically map my shortcuts to a Keyboard Maestro macro, especially using BTT's ability to send a shortcut to another application in the background.
Advance Gesture Settings
Clicking on the gear wheel to the left of the Touchpad button, provides special set of gestures that can be assigned to a finger gesture action. For example, Bartender is one of several applications in my menu bar. To make easier to open, I assigned the shortcut for opening Bartender with a Two Finger Swipe Up finger gesture. I then applied an advanced gesture setting to the action so that it only works when my cursor is in the menu bar.
When you want to use one of the advanced gestures, select an action that you have already created, and then select the advanced setting that you want to use. The advanced gestures mainly works in the menu bar and Dock.
The developer of BTT suggest that you don't fiddle with the advance settings, but you should take a look at the settings for the trackpad or Magic Mouse to see if making adjustments to the clicks, swipes, or taps will help with performance, especially if have heavy fingers or slip-ups. If the changes you make don't feel right, you can click the Reset ALL settings button.
If you like to control your Mac from across the room, BTT actually has a robust iOS remote app that allows you to control the running applications on your Mac, as well as adding actions that can be triggered using the iOS app.
The developer recently released a free and pro version of the BTT Remote app, and I highly recommend purchasing it, if only to support the developer for all his hard work.
Your BTT Actions?
As you can see, there's a lot to BTT and what it can do. If you're already using the program, let me and my readers know what BTT actions you using in your workflow.
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