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There are three page swipe gesture options in Lion:

Swiping gestures in Mac OS lion

  • Scroll left or right with two fingers, which is new to Lion, has a neat animation and is currently supported only by Safari.
  • Swipe left or right with three fingers existed in Snow Leopard and doesn't have the animation, but is supported by other applications.

  • Swipe with two or three fingers enables both of these gestures.


Now, I would be happy with the third option, however it seems that three-finger swipe gesture completely ignores natural scrolling preference.

If you disable natural scrolling, all options work identically, but if you turn it back on, two-finger swipe changes its direction, while three-finger gesture stays the same.

This leaves me utterly confused because to go Back in Safari with natural scrolling I can:

  • swipe right with two fingers, or
  • swipe left with three fingers.

This gets just as confusing in Mission Control or any other application that supports navigation.


Can I override this behavior and “invert” three-finger gestures, too, and should I?
What was the idea behind this design decision?

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Sounds like a bug to me. Similar legacy bugs include references to install DVDs in Disk Utility, and a few others I spotted... –  dan8394 Aug 11 '11 at 3:02
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I think the scope is too large for it to be a bug. Maybe the decision was to keep “navigation” gestures always pointing to target direction, as they swipe and not scroll. But this is a speculation. –  Dan Aug 11 '11 at 3:04
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

This may be one of those things that is labeled as a "feature not a bug." It's possible that the swiping gestures that are the same as the gestures on Snow Leopard are considered "Legacy" gestures. If that's the case then it is possible that having it "backwards" Is the expected behavior. If it's a legacy gesture then it may be considered to ignore natural scrolling because that is a "new" feature. I'm not saying that's how it should work, if you ask me if you change the direction of scrolling, it should apply to all gestures, not just the scrolling ones. I've moved mine back to the two finger option for the moment. You should file it at http://www.apple.com/feedback to make sure that Apple knows how confusing this is.

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Doesn't look like it's happened yet. FWIW I sent my feedback. 4-finger swipes for switching workspaces also follow natural direction so I don't see why they can't just offer the same option for 3-finger swipes too. –  dev Nov 17 '13 at 0:33
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