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Is there an existing utility app or pref pane to accomplish this?

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I don't know about any utility that can do exactly that.

However, I would recommend using BetterTouchTool to achieve similar effect.

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I was able to do this with Better Touch Tool, as Anonymous mentioned. As a test, I set "Single Finger Tap Top Right" of the Trackpad to the pre-defined action "Open Finder." Presto, new Finder window.

Better Touch Tool Preferences

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