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Hot-rodding SideTrack for web browsing

Funny thing. I installed SideTrack primarily for its ability to emulate the “CTRL-click” (or “right-click”) on my one-button PowerBook. I tried it for a week, almost loved it and eventually disabled that one feature because it was driving me nuts (forever glancingly tapping the trackpad and getting contextual menus everywhere. Gaaah!). Well, the good news is that I love practically everything else about SideTrack and thought I’d share how I’m using it to hotrod my web surfing in particular.

So here’s screenshots of my setup, with notes where needed. Note that although I'm using Safari here, many of these bits should be even more applicable on Firefox, which generally allows more granular preferences control as well as more key bindings, I believe.

Trackpad tab


Like I said, I’ve disabled the right click functionality until I have the time to get used to it (aka when I don’t have a bunch of deadlines). If you can stand the learning curve for adjusting around this, I'd highly recommend it. It's a fantastic feature and makes using Safari on a PowerBook much, much easier and faster.

I also have flipped on “Ignore trackpad while typing” (to account for my chaotic, overhand typing style). ;-)

Scrolling tab


This one’s pretty basic too—I’ve shut off the horizontal scroll piece because its usefulness to me was offset by the “false positives” it caused me.

I did flip the vertical scrolling on for the right side of the trackpad (same side as the scroll bar in apps, plus I’m “right-fingered.”). I set the scrolling speed to as fast as possible since the time I’m most likely to use it is when I’m reading (as opposed to typing) and want to be able to get around without using actual keyboard combinations and as quickly as possible too (this gets good in the next tab).

Corners tab


Okay, this is the money shot. I spend an assload of each day in Safari doing one thing or another. I frequently have many tabs open and I need efficient ways to navigate through them as well as pop new tabs from links, close old tabs etc. So.

I’m utilizing each corner of the trackpad for a browser-related tap. Setting aside for a moment that your key bindings may differ, here’s the skinny:

  • Top Left corner tap is bound to “Close other tabs.” If I have a 20 tabs open in one browser window and want to quickly whittle it down to one, I just tap that corner and “Poof,” all gone.
  • Top Right corner tap is bound to middle click, which opens links in a new background tab in my configuration. This is great for browsing Google results and popping new tabs in the background without losing the source page. Love it.
  • Bottom Left and Bottom Right taps allow me to navigate through previous and next tabs without using the keyboard. Once the muscle memory for this is in place, I can assure you it will greatly speed up your browsing. Combined with the “Close other tabs” click, you’ve got a pretty sweet way to maintain your tabs while leaning back in your chair and not disrupting your reading flow.

Also note that, since this corner-tapping ends up being an important reason I use this app at all, I’ve made the tap corners as large as possible. So far it’s worked like a charm for me.

Advanced tab


This one’s a bit of an anticlimax, but basically this is where you can (and should) recalibrate if your clicks aren’t landing where you think they should.

You can also alter your acceleration to a few different styles and enable “Trackpad tap for left click during login” (whatever that means).

So that’s my little bit of SideTrack hacking. What’s yours?

John Evans's picture

I have been using this...

I have been using this for the past 6 months and its great, though I do wonder if it is causing some kernel panics. However I still dont know why Apple doesnt improve its trackpad software as its just a synaptics touchpad - most if not all other laptops using these trackpads have these features.

One thing i miss from my vaio days is that I could asign gestures to do things. Back and forward were a simple stroke in the right direction along the top edge. Minimise, maximise, hide all were directional strokes from just one corner. It be so nice to have exposé work from gestures and not hot corners. Gestures just feel better and the ammount of false positives are really small.

And while I am at it, I want my two button mouse!! ;)




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