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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad Pick of the Week
SideTrack imageThe macosxhints Rating:
9 of 10
[Score: 9 out of 10]
If you've ever used a PC laptop, you may have become addicted to the variety of functions that are available via their trackpads and multiple buttons. Usually you can program the pad and buttons to do whatever you like, through some sort of control panel interface. You can set scrolling areas on the pad, remap buttons, etc. to your liking.

While we can't do anything about the physical one-button nature of our Mac laptops, SideTrack will let you take care of the programmability aspect. SideTrack is a replacement trackpad driver (though the original mouse/trackpad driver is not uninstalled!) for OS X laptops -- it's not a hack or system tweak, so there's not as much fear of tweak-related instability. Installation is a simple double-click and a restart, after which you'll find a new SideTrack item in the Other section of the System Preferences application. Activate the panel, and you'll find settings for the functionality of the trackpad button, tapping on the trackpad, creating vertical and horizontal scroll areas (location and size), and scroll speed. Use the pop-ups to set things to your liking, and then just start enjoying the new functionality. Once nice touch is that the preferences are multi-user aware, so you can have different settings for everyone that uses your laptop.

I set my PowerBook to have vertical and horizontal scroll areas at the right and top of the trackpad. So while browsing the web, there's no more using the arrow keys or the mouse to navigate around the on-screen display. When I want to read further down a page, a quick drag down the right edge of the trackpad scrolls the window. Very useful! Since SideTrack works by emulating a scroll-wheel mouse, it will only work in applications that already support such devices -- so if your favorite app doesn't work with a scroll wheel mouse, it won't work with SideTrack either.

Since I can't do anything in hardware about the lack of a second mouse button, I used the "Trackpad tap" setting to emulate it -- one of the available pop-up settings is "right click." So now a quick tap on the pad, and I get the contextual menus. Click the physical button, and it behaves as a normal "left" click. This removes one of my greatest PowerBook annoyances -- having to reach for the control key whenever I wanted a contextual menu.

Although SideTrack is in beta, I've had it installed on two machines for a couple of weeks without any issues. If you need to temporarily disable it, you can do so by booting with the shift key down. Permanent removal instructions are included in the Read Me. But once you've tried it, you may find you don't want to ever uninstall it -- SideTrack is, to me, one of those small, functional, and seemingly instantly essential pieces of software. I'm giving it a 9 out of 10 only because it's still in beta...
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  You rated: 4 / 5 (8 votes cast)
 
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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: Kool on Oct 08, '03 10:19:02AM

I had heard of this before and was already eager to try it out. It sounds like a very nice addition to the trackpad funcionality!

Now if Apple would hurry sending me that PB 15"...



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Beautiful
Authored by: theNonsuch on Oct 08, '03 10:20:41AM

This is definitely one of the very few things I've missed from when I used to use PC laptops... thanks for the pointer!



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: TomorrowPlusX on Oct 08, '03 11:17:19AM

Does this (and/or uControl) work under panther? I mean, frankly, once you've used some sort of scroll-wheel emulator on a laptop, it's hard to go back.

Anybody know?



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: hangon on Oct 08, '03 04:08:25PM

uControl is the best to me....but doesn't work under Panther...thanks to apple...



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: alajuela on Oct 08, '03 06:46:57PM

uControl was developed by the same person. See this note from the SideTrack download & website:

"Q: What is SideTrack's relationship to uControl?

A: In an effort to bring scrolling features to MacOS X I originally contributed the scroll emulation feature for Shane Celis's excellent uControl utility (http://www.gnufoo.org). However, because of technical limitations, uControl requires a modifier key be held down to enable scroll emulation. Since uControl's scroll emulation was released many people have contact both myself and Shane requesting "keyless" scrolling familiar to the Wintel laptop world.

Although I originally believed this feature was impossible, thanks to the resourcefulness of Heiko Hellweg, a method was found to switch the trackpad hardware to the needed mode. SideTrack uses that mode to bring keyless scrolling to MacOS X.

SideTrack is separate from uControl because it operates at a different level than uControl within the kernel. SideTrack is 100% compatible with uControl, but does not require uControl for operation."



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: alajuela on Oct 08, '03 07:57:01PM

Works with Panther on my TiBook 500.



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: luhmann on Oct 08, '03 11:20:24AM

This is amazing - and I've been looking for something like this for a long time. But what I really like is the ability to completely disable the trackpad and button when you have a mouse present. I use a mouse (on my left hand) to avoid repetitive stress injuries, but I often get lazy and use the trackpad with my right hand. This app forces me to use the mouse!



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: aranor on Oct 09, '03 07:08:48AM

Panther provides the option to ignore Trackpad when mouse is present.



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: henry on Oct 09, '03 08:14:10AM

Jaguar also offers this functionality. Look in the "Keyboard & Mouse" preference pane, under the "Trackpad" tab, and you'll see an "Ignore trackpad when mouse is present" option (at least it's there in 10.2.8)



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: VEGx on Oct 09, '03 08:54:20AM

Yes, but it doesn't work!!!



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: VEGx on Oct 09, '03 09:00:08AM
Sorry, I guess my previous post might have been unclear... so I post again. This is what I was referring to:

Jaguar also offers this functionality. Look in the "Keyboard & Mouse" preference pane, under the "Trackpad" tab, and you'll see an "Ignore trackpad when mouse is present" option (at least it's there in 10.2.8)

These certainly is that "option" the only bad thing is that this option has never worked in Jaguar!!!

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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: henry on Jan 28, '04 02:43:38PM

I guess there's not much point in posting a reply after all this time, but this option really did work for me in 10.2 (I'm now running 10.3). It may not have worked for others, but it most definately worked for me.

Either that, or I was hallucinating the whole time I was running 10.2 because I always set my machines to ignore the trackpad when the mouse is connected, and I always notice when I'm using a machine that doesn't (I guess that speaks volumes about my crappy typing posture).



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: spacehaven on Oct 08, '03 11:50:33AM

Wow, I've been using this for 5 minutes, and it's so natural. I don't think I can go back!



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SideTrack - WOW!
Authored by: adrick42 on Oct 08, '03 02:40:44PM
I have been using this for a few weeks and it is an excellent product, but it (is in Beta) seems a little buggy on my 400mhz Ti book. Scrollling doesn't always catch right away.
I cannot wait until the full release! A definate gotta have!

---
cd ~/ ; %20out

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SideTrack - WOW!
Authored by: Bobson on Oct 08, '03 05:09:48PM

Yeah, that was my biggest problem. Either I scrolled when i didn't want to, or I didn't scroll when I did. Overall, I liked it, but for now, I have the scrolling turned off.
I suspect that it might be responsible for a pair of Kernel panics I had recently - woke the computer, moved the mouse, panic. Twice. But it's worked fine other than that, so it could have been something else too.



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SideTrack - WOW!
Authored by: Bobson on Oct 15, '03 08:08:13PM

It could be that it conflicted with something else on my system... but every so often when I woke my laptop with SideTrack installed, I'd try to move the cursor too soon and it'd panic. After four panics in two weeks, I uninstalled.



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: subcultured on Oct 08, '03 02:46:48PM

very intuitive! thanks for the write-up. here's hoping that it'll retain its function with the release of panther.



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So far seems to work fine in Panther.
Authored by: acalado on Oct 09, '03 09:42:07AM

- Andy



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: zedwards on Oct 08, '03 06:00:57PM

I have been using this as well this week and really like the scrolling feature as this is one of the main reasons for having an external mouse, now that I have gotten used to the ctl+click. But I did try the tap for the right click button and the clicking is waaay to sensitive and i have contextual menues all over the place. Laptops are pretty new to me, so this may be just a typical trakpad thing, soo...



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: alajuela on Oct 08, '03 08:06:10PM

Also cool that, when running MS RDC, the right-click tap equivalence also works on the PC "screen." Ditto for VPC. Granted, that is how it "ought" to be, but it is nice to see it actually work that well.



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: Hes Nikke on Oct 08, '03 09:09:17PM

9 out of 10? <b>9 out of 10?!</b> how can you give this program a 9 out of 10? i've been using this for a couple of weeks, and it wonderful! if it doesn't work with panther i won't be upgrading my TiBook to panther! thats how much i love this thing! if you ask me, it deserves a 14 out of 10! :)

(BTW, it did cause a few kernel panics, so i emailed my panic log to the developer and he was kind enough to send me a new build, which has been flawless)

---
vacuums do not suck. they merely provide an absence that allows other objects to take the place of what becomes absent.



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: Bruce Miller on Oct 08, '03 10:08:57PM

Had already Maxi-Mice and MouseZoom installed (and co-existing) and was concerned about adding SideTrack on top also. So far all three work together for excellent track pad performance.



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: drock3800 on Oct 09, '03 03:06:26AM

FINALLY!! An "ignore trackpad while typing" function that actually works (unlike the apple driver version)! I give this software an 8 out of 10, simply because it's in beta and lags a bit when using the scroll bar function. Otherwise, a perfect 10!



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: poultryfarm on Oct 09, '03 04:43:58AM
FINALLY!! An "ignore trackpad while typing" function that actually works (unlike the apple driver version)!
i second that... worth it alone for this feature. sidetrack is great in other respects too. suddenly, the trackpad isn't such a pain to use.

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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: rskoss on Oct 09, '03 06:18:02AM

With so many of you singing the praises of SideTrack, I must be doing something wrong because I don't think it's ready for prime time.

When I attempt to scroll, it's a matter of trick or treat if scrolling is going to start or not. After several attempts, I can usually get the page to scroll, but it scrolls either too far or too little, and then I have to start the process of initiating scrolling all over again.

I'm using a 667Mhz TiBook, OS 10.2.6.



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: Mulud on Oct 09, '03 09:14:27AM

Same thing here (iBook 800, OS X.2.8)



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: Kemul on Oct 10, '03 05:38:14AM

I experienced rskoss' problem where scrolling does not happen consistently. I might offer a little help though.

Put more finger area when you want to scroll. i.e. Instead of using the tip of your finger, flatten your finger a bit on the touch pad. Sometimes pressing harder may work too.

Well, I still like my 5-button mouse better. Good luck trying! :)

PB G4 667MHz 512MB 10.2.8



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: Mulud on Oct 11, '03 11:55:36AM

Still not perfect, but it works better indeed! Thanks...



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SideTrack - Add new functionality to your trackpad
Authored by: Mulud on Oct 09, '03 10:33:03AM

Sorry about the bad english: The edges of the trackpad are not always recognised as different. When I want to scroll, my arrow very often just moves around instead.

Very promissing though!



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System Prefs forgot i have a trackpad!
Authored by: Anonymous on Mar 10, '04 05:19:17PM

Tried SideTrack but got strange trackpad behavior. No problem, i just uninstalled it. But now my System Preferences thinks i have a mouse, not a Trackpad! Anyone know a way to get it to re-recognize that i have a trackpad so that i can change settings (i miss tap for clicking :/ )

PowerBook G3 Pismo, OS X 10.3.2 with all the upgrades

Thanks...

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