I am an avid iMac user and have no intention of buying a MacBook/MacBook Air or a trackpad.

I have just installed Lion and have seen Launchpad and Mission Control in my Dock. I could see myself using these lots, but I am concerned that it's not going to be quite as natural as finger-gestures. Will I have to learn keyboard shortcuts or is there something I'm missing?

Will I gain the full Lion experience without a MacBook or a trackpad?

  • Is money constraint the only reason you're asking?
    – Jon S
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 0:32
  • No, not at all, I have an iPhone, iPad and iMac so i feel a MacBook would be rather surplus to my needs : ) Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 0:35
  • Ah. Well then, no - you definitely don't need to be on a laptop to get the most of Lion. Not even close. My apologies - I thought you were asking because $69 was a lot of money. If not, I'd definitely recommend investing $69 in a Magic Trackpad for your $1000+ computer if you're using it even a few hours a week.
    – Jon S
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 0:45

6 Answers 6


Another way to address your question:

  1. If this is the Mac you're using to make your living, then DEFINITELY run don't walk and get a touch input now. Recommend Magic Trackpad if it's a desktop, but not a strong opinion there.

  2. If you're in college, just in your first job, or in a financial situation where someone bought your Mac for you and the $60-70 for a touch input is pricey - I definitely think you can get by without one without feeling like a 2nd class citizen.

  3. Same answer if you're planning to upgrade soon to another Mac that'll come with one and don't want to pay for one twice.

  4. Otherwise, if you're using this Mac several times (or several hours) a day, I'd say get a touch-based input sooner than later.

  5. If you're only using it occasionally and you're asking because spending another $70 (on a computer you thought important enough to invest $1000+ in, mind you), then I'd wait until you can try it out on someone else's computer.

Finally, if you are considering getting one and $20-30 will make a substantial difference in your decision calculus... keep an eye on discount sites, including Apple clearance online.

Every few months they typically offer discounted refurb devices that are easily as good as buying new.


These answers are going to vary from person to person. Additionally, I have a Magic Mouse, which only supports a subset of the total gestures.

I think the the "Natural" scrolling really make sense on a touch-sensitive controller like the Magic Mouse or the Trackpad.

The two gestures that I've found most useful are:

  • Move backwards and forwards in Safari. I know this technically existed before Lion, but as I've previously said, the feedback of the animation makes it far more useful.
  • Two-finger swiping between spaces is wonderfully fluid.

On the contrary the two-finger double tap for Mission Control has been used a handful of times. I'm finding the ctrl + up far more useful, plus ctrl + down gets you to Exposé.

I think there are plenty of things to like about Lion without any gesture support. I can certainly recommend the Magic Mouse, something I would've hesitated to do before Lion.

  • I'll +5 this. My brain is still really coming to grips with all the new features, but I'm really a keyboard person on the desktop. I'm already learning and customizing the key commands to take use of Launchpad and Mission Control. I love the gestures on portables, but don't see using a magic trackpad on the desk anytime soon. It doesn't (yet) fit how I work but that's not letting me enjoy lion with a keyboard only.
    – bmike
    Commented Jul 24, 2011 at 23:55

No, you won't gain the full experience of using Lion because you simply won't be able to do all of the gesture controls.

Of course, gestures are just one part of over 250+ features of Lion, so although you'll be missing something, there is still plenty to enjoy.

I do recommend trying a Magic Trackpad though. After using it for a week or so, if you switch back to a Magic Mouse you'll feel like a person with no hands.


Yes - I definitely think you can and will benefit from Lion without a touch input device.

Mission Control is entirely controlled by the keyboard and (non-touch) mouse - there's just a gesture to trigger it.

Launchpad - I really would't recommend anyone consider Launchpad at all when considering an upgrade to Lion. Compared to what's available today, it demos well, but doesn't really improve day-to-day experience enough to focus on this.

In my opinion, the most valuable features of Lion are not the gesture control, but what I dub ARV, i.e. the trinity of the Auto Save, Resume, Versions features. My guess is they haven't gotten much traction in the press because they don't demo as sexily as the counterparts you're mentioning (which are great, sure).

But the ability to just quit an application with a document you haven't even saved yet is ridiculously useful in everyday life when your desktop, task switching bar or memory are getting overburdened.

When you reboot your first time – without saving a thing – and all the applications, documents and windows you had open all return exactly where you left them... it's nearly a religious experience! :)

And Versions brings to regular users the best parts of a powerful (but heretofore complicated) tool called "version control" that software engineers have kept to themselves for over a decade. If you've ever sent (or received) an attachment via e-mail with multiple recipients asking "Please review and make changes and send back to me", then you're going wonder where this was all your life. Combined with Auto-Save creating micro-versions of your file (every time you launch, quit - or even pause typing!) - you can easily go back through the entire history of your document to find old parts you deleted by accident.

In my opinion, this is a far more important OS release than since I first got on the Mac in 2005.

Context: been using Lion since launch day, and I'm an advanced user, but my day job is designing web sites and apps for common, timid users with basic needs.

  • To the extent that you can page, scroll and move around in Lion using nothing but a traditional scroll wheel mouse (plus the Option modifier key) - you're probably fine. It's when you find yourself lifting that right hand from a scroll wheel mouse just to navigate forward/back in a window, or between spaces - that's when it's really time to consider dropping the $ on some touch input. For a desktop (e.g. iMac), I suspect (though don't own) that the trackpad would be better than the Magic mouse.
    – Jon S
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 0:30

You won't be truly "missing" anything as Lion was designed in way so that all actions triggered by gestures can be invoked via other means. Some of them will be exclusive to keyboard shortcuts and/or will be located in the menu bar if you lack a trackpad. However the real popular, useful ones like Mission Control, Launchpad etc. will be accessible from your dock.

Lion has many more benefits to it in addition to the improved gestures. I'll leave it to others to go into those details.

On the trackpad: If you have ever found yourself wishing your mouse had more buttons, then you may like the trackpad. There are even some apps like JiTouch that can extend and customize the capabilities and functionalities of the gestures while adding many more new gestures as well. It is likely it will feel uncomfortable at first, but that's normal. If you give it a shot, give it some time before you decide against it (a few days to a week is probably sufficient). I'd also recommend a wrist-pad of some sort.


Get a Magic Trackpad or Magic Mouse (I have the latter) you're missing out , especially if you use spaces a lot. For launchpad & mission control I haven't gotten used to the gestures yet so I use hotcorners.

PS If you want even more functionality with Macic Mouse/TrackPad look into MagicPrefs, it works with Lion (If it doesn't work right away reboot)

  • The Magic Trackpad/Mouse are a little bit pricey, if you don't want to spend that much you can always look into third party products but I don't guarantee support for all the awesome features Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 5:52

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