macOS, Reviews, Video

Magic Mouse on steroids with FCPX and other apps

BetterTouchTool

Apple’s Magic Mouse is a great device and it comes free with every new iMac, but it’s limited in what you can do with it. You can customise the mouse a bit in System Preferences, but for editing movies with Final Cut Pro X, for example, that customisation falls short. Enter BetterTouchTool, a little software I just discovered.

There have been mouse and tablet functionality expansion apps before, but none of those hit the ball home. Some were too simple, others were too complicated and required a PhD in programming. Most of them disappeared as soon as they saw the day of light.

BetterTouchTool seems to be an exception. This app allows you to customise almost every action you can use a traditional mouse, Magic Mouse, Magic Tablet, your keyboard or other input device for. As far as I could see, only scrolling and dragging are not supported, which makes sense as those two are managed by the OS as the most basic of things you can do with an Apple mouse or tablet.

That means you can’t replace the cursor’s default moving behaviour that requires you to move the mouse across the desk, but you can almost everything else. And here it becomes interesting for FCPX users, but also Premiere Pro, Da Vinci Resolve, Logic Pro X, ProTools and all other creativity software, because BetterTouchTool allows you to vastly expand your mouse or tablet’s functionality.

For example, in Final Cut Pro X you can memorise keyboard commands, but if you have a few different creativity apps on your system it becomes a challenge to remember which keyboard shortcut goes into which app. With BetterTouchTool you can simply expand the mouse (my test device) to accept n-finger swipes and the lot to do whatever you want.

And so, in Final Cut Pro X I set up BetterTouchTool so that a two-finger swipe to the left makes me instantly move to the next edit and vice versa. And even when I can’t remember whether left was assigned the forward move and right meant going backward, I can simply quickly try it. As there are fewer combinations to try than keyboard shortcuts available, I’ll find my command quicker. And strangely enough, I seem to remember what those different swipes and taps stand for much more easily than what Command-Option-Control-G stood for – if anything.

BetterTouchTool has a generous 45-day demo period. After that it can be purchased at about €22.

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