Mac Trackpad orbiting? Still not available?

Hey guys am I missing something here? Why is navigation (orbit and pan) so difficult with this software when using a trackpad?

I have been using a mac trackpad for years, so I am way more accurate with this then a mouse but your software makes it so frustrating to navigate with it, not to mention I had to search through countless forums before someone finally wrote the keys I was supposed to press in order to use pan and orbit without changing tools completely, as there is no mention of this anywhere I could find.

I have used a lot of different modelling softwares over the years and they all use similar gestures to orbit and pan. It’s intuitive and easy, for you guys however it appears I have to hold down command, control, shift then press and drag ONE finger on the trackpad just to pan. It’s ridiculous, I should not need 4 fingers held in an uncomfortable position to use one tool, and not very successfully I might add.

All the other softwares I have used operate like this:

“right-click” and drag = Orbit
“right-click” and drag + shift = pan

Simple, easy and intuitive. To right click on a mac trackpad you just click with two fingers instead of one. It actually feels quite unstable trying to orbit or pan using only one finger instead of two which is your current set up.

I am really liking a lot about your software at the moment but the navigation is frustrating me to no end that I am already considering other option like Autodesk, it seems people have been requesting this change or similar for 6 years or more now so I am shocked that you are so behind with this when all the other software I have used have managed this just fine. It seems obvious to me that if you are going to provide a mac version of your software then you should make sure it functions according to the native features of the system to which the users are used to.

Please let me know if I have missed something here, like I said I really like the software so far so I am hoping this can be resolved. Thanks.

Personally I find it very comfortable.

I use the trackpad with my right hand and use the modifier keys with my left:

My left hand just rests there and presses the keys as needed. I haven’t needed a scroll mouse in years.

You could look at a 3D connexion device too, those are fantastic. Also, there are some 3rd party plugins I used to use on the Mac back in the day to automate things like orbiting and stuff. At the end of the day I’ve found the native solution to be best.

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This is the way I work too. Something you may not have noticed is that once you are orbiting or panning you can release the modifier keys. I also have my preferences set to allow three fingers to act like a mousedown, which means I can do a lot of actions without having to physically press anything.

@ericschimel @colin Thanks for the advice but that video literally proves my point. Look how scrunched up his fingers are on his left hand, you can’t honestly look at that and think, what a great solution!

You may have gotten used to using two hands and 4 fingers just to pan but that does not mean that it is a good method. Now I am unfamiliar with using 3 fingers in that way, my 3 fingers swipe right and left to switch to different screens and that works for me but I may look into this if there’s no hope in Sketchup changing the software.

My right hand cramps up constantly because I am having the press and hold one finger on the trackpad and keep all others off, this is not a nice position for the hand to be in. Especially sense I am needing to make small adjustments quite often to the screen in order to hit the correct end points and to see what I am doing, so it becomes quite frustrating when I have to hit so many keys in a certain order every time I want to make a change.

I have attached a couple of videos of me using Cura software with the easier more comfortable method in my opinion and then one using Sketchup. Hopefully you can see how quick and easy I switched from zoom to orbit to pan in the Cura software and how ridiculous my finger positions are made to be in Sketchup.

The point is I am calling for a change because:

  • My right hand cramps up often due to having to hold one finger on the trackpad.
  • Its slow, because I have to find the keys every time with my eyes and activate the tool rather then just pressing my second finger down. I also have to remember which order to put them in and I can’t jump straight into pan I have to go through orbit first then pan.



You seem to know that you can release the modifier keys after you are orbiting, so the scrunched up period need not be very long.

There is one difference from what you are showing compared to how I work. I mentioned that I have three fingers set to act like a mouse down, that means I can orbit and pan by only brushing the trackpad, I don’t have to depress it. And I can release two fingers after the orbit is started. It’s a gentle way of working.

With Cura I had to press down with two fingers to get orbiting working, and although I could release one of those and continue orbiting, I did still have to keep my finger pressed down. Also, I use two finger press as a way to get right-click, and Cura ignores that, I have to use Control-click instead.

You can have more than one finger on the trackpad, I have two or three on my trackpad at a time when panning or orbiting. Those fingers are just resting.

I can’t tell you that it’s comfortable, but I find it very comfortable and I have larger hands. In that video I had a camera in front of me so it looks not great, plus I was trying to show the keys.

Try it with the left hand on the modifier keys and multiple fingers on the trackpad with your right, it should work.

Also you could check out “better touch tool” if it still exists. That might help you automate some of this stuff.

Turn on 3 finger drag. It’s in settings. You’ll never have to press with a finger and drag ever again.

I orbit with the track pad all the time. Trick is to use a shortcut to pull up orbit too first. Then just glide across the track pad with three fingers. Smooth as butter and easy on the hand.

No modifier key required.


The argument usually given for the mouse wheel approach is that you don’t lose context. That is, you can start drawing a line, mouse wheel press to orbit the view, and you’re still working in the line tool with the line you start. That is also true if you use the keyboard modifier keys, so it seems like an exact equivalent.

But it’s not a strong argument, because if you press O to comfortably orbit for a while by stroking the trackpad with three fingers, you can press L to return to working on that same line. It does mean a second shortcut press to carry on, but that it still physically less stressful than holding down a mouse wheel for long periods.

Something that works with the modifier keys also works with the shortcut approach. Once you are orbiting after selecting Orbit, then three finger stroke, you can release two of your fingers, making it extra comfortable. You can press and release the shift key too, to exactly orbit and pan to get the view you want.

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You’re not missing something; we’re missing something. We agree with you, and we have some projects in the works. Thank you for the screen recordings: those are super useful to us, and obviously we don’t think you should have to do that weird thing with your pinky finger to orbit or pan. I’ll be sure to update this thread when we have something for you to try.

Interesting tip from @monospaced about three-finger drag. I’ll try that out.

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For anyone who wants to enable three-finger drag (which I cannot recommend enough), here is the method in macOS. It’s buried deep in settings and isn’t intuitive to find.

Go to Settings, select Accessibility and then click on Trackpad Options.

Once there you can select “three finger drag” for “Enable dragging.” I promise, once this is done, it will make your life easier if you’re a trackpad user or without a mouse for awhile. Moving anything around on screen becomes infinitely simpler and easier with this enabled. I honestly feel like it should be on by default. You’ll never have to press the trackpad and drag uncomfortably again. And it makes orbiting a dream in comparison. Cheers.

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I have this enabled, but use it for swiping between workspaces or to do “expose” mode so i can pick a document window. I do love them gestures though.

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I too have three-finger swipe set up to move between spaces. It would require a fair interval of muscle memory retraining to change!

It’s worth it, especially as Ctrl-left/right arrow does nicely for Spaces.

You can have both. Three finger drag is not the same as three finger swipe. It’s smart enough to know the difference. I use them simultaneously and so can you.

@monospaced what version of MacOS are you running?

@Kacili thanks for the feedback! Points about navigation well taken. I’m curious to know, when using the drawing & modification tools (like line, rectangle, move, push-pull, etc.) whether you find yourself using the click-move-click, or click-drag method?

For reference:
Click-move-click = click and let go of trackpad to start a command (like setting the first corner of a rectangle), then drag to move the cursor, then click and let go again to set the opposite corner.


Click-drag = Click down to set the first corner of the rectangle, and keep trackpad down when dragging the cursor. When you let up on the trackpad, the rectangle is set.

I’m on Mojave at the moment. But this 3 finger drag feature has been around for years and isn’t going anywhere soon :slightly_smiling_face:

Thanks! Found it under what’s now called Pointer Control in Catalina.

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