How to use the Force Touch trackpad

Find out about the Force Touch trackpad, its features and how to use it.

Force click with Force Touch trackpad

The Force Touch trackpad lets you Force click by pressing on the trackpad and then applying more pressure. This allows you to take advantage of added functionality in many apps and system features on your Mac.

To see a video of a Force click, choose Apple menu  > System Preferences. Then choose Trackpad, click the Point & Click tab and hover the pointer over the Look up & data detectors tickbox.

macOS Trackpad Preferences window


What you can do with a Force click

Here are some examples of what you can do with a Force click:

  • Look up: Force click text in a web page or Mail message to see more information about the text from sources such as Dictionary, Wikipedia and more.
  • Addresses: Force click an address to see a Maps preview of that location.
  • Events: Force click dates and events to add them to Calendar. 
  • Flight numbers: Force click an airline flight number to get details about the flight.
  • Link previews: Force click a link in Safari or Mail to see an inline preview of the web page.
  • Tracking numbers: Force click a tracking number in Safari or Mail to see shipping details in a popover.
  • File icons: Force click a file icon to see a Quick Look preview of the file's content.
  • File names: Force click a file name in the Finder or on your desktop to edit the file name.
  • Dock: Force click an app in the Dock to access App Exposé. This will display all open windows for that app.
  • Mail: when composing a message with an image or PDF attachment, Force click the attachment to activate Markup. This lets you annotate the attachment.
  • Messages: Force click a conversation in the sidebar to see details and attachments, and Force click a buddy’s token in the chat header to see their contact card in a popover. 
  • Reminders: Force click a reminder to see more details.
  • Calendar: Force click an event to see more details. Force click a meeting attendee to see their contact card in a popover. 
  • Map locations: Force click a location in a map to drop a pin there.
  • iMovie: if your iMovie Timeline has an animated map or globe, Force click the map or globe to access a Style menu.
  • GarageBand: you can use Force click in the following ways.
    • Force click a region to rename it
    • Force click a note in the Piano Roll Editor or Score Editor to delete the note
    • Force click an empty area of a software instrument track area to create an empty MIDI region
    • Force click an empty area of a Drummer track area to create a Drummer region
    • Force click an empty area of an Audio track area to add an audio file
    • Force click an empty part of the Piano Roll Editor or Score Editor to add a note
    • Force click the automation area of a region to add automation points at region borders
    • Force click a region while dragging to zoom in on the timeline
    • Force click the area below the last track header to open a New Track dialogue


Other Force Touch trackpad features

  • QuickTime and iMovie: you can vary the pressure you use on the fast-forward and rewind buttons. This will accelerate the speed at which you fast forward or rewind.
  • iMovie: when dragging a video clip to its maximum length, you’ll get feedback letting you know you’ve reached the end of the clip. Add a title and you’ll get feedback as the title snaps into position at the beginning or end of a clip. Subtle feedback is also provided with the alignment guides that appear in the Viewer when cropping clips.
  • Spotlight: you'll feel a notch when moving the Spotlight search bar back to its standard horizontal or vertical position.
  • Preview: you'll feel a notch when you align shapes, text and other markup elements with each other. 
  • Photo arrowing: when you arrow through Photos in an Album or a Moment, you can apply additional pressure to go faster.
  • Rotate photos: in Photos, when you choose Crop and then rotate a photo, you’ll feel a notch when the rotation of the photo is at zero degrees.
  • GarageBand: you’ll feel feedback from your Force Touch trackpad when you do the following.
    • Move the Track Volume slider to the 0 dB position
    • Move the Track Pan knob to the centre position
    • Reorder tracks to a new drop position
    • Move window borders to the point when windows appear or disappear
    • Move Track Header borders to the point when header elements appear or disappear
    • Move the main application window to the point when Control Buttons appear or disappear


Change trackpad settings

To adjust the pressure you need to click your trackpad, follow these steps.

  1. Choose Apple menu > System Preferences.
  2. Click Trackpad.
  3. Click the "Point & Click" tab.
  4. Find the Click slider and adjust the slider to your preference. Note that the sound of the click changes with the click pressure setting.

To turn off Force click, untick the “Force Click and haptic feedback” tickbox. This will disable the functionality described in the Trackpad preferences pane.

A few of the examples of what you can do with a Force click only work if "Force click with one finger" is active. You can enable or disable this in the "Point & Click" tab under "Look up & data detectors".

On some Mac notebooks, you can turn off the sound of your trackpad's click by selecting Silent clicking.


Force Touch trackpad must have power to click

Your Force Touch trackpad doesn't click when it's turned off, because it needs power to provide haptic feedback (such as clicks). This applies to Magic Trackpad as well as Force Touch trackpads built into Mac notebook computers.

Published Date: