Currently, if you enable it, the four finger gesture popups a window that shows you the apps you can switch to, You can then select one of them using the mouse.

Is there any way to modify this gesture a bit to make it faster to use?

I would be fine with either of these implementations:

  1. When you perform the gesture, a right swipe will immediately switch to the next window in the queue, while a left swipe will switch to the previous one. As a result, the queue should not be changed every time you switch windows, otherwise if you keep performing the right gesture, you will just be navigating back and forth between the same two windows.
  2. When the gesture is performed, you see the popup window which displays the open application's icons as you normally do now; but you can keep the fingers down on the trackpad, and move them left or right to highlight a different icon. Once the application you want to switch to is highlighted, you release the trackpad and it switches to that application.
  • Actually it works mostly like the second point: Four finger slide - activates menu, lift two fingers, slide, highlight icon, release fingers, tap 1 finger and it activates the highlighted item. The only thing is that the cursor must be over the app switcher popup during the 1 finger tap at the end.
    – bisko
    Commented Jan 28, 2011 at 20:46
  • @bisko: Cool, I didn't know about the two finger dragging, however, it's that last tap that I'm trying to avoid, especially since it means that I have to navigate the mouse to the center of the screen. In order for me to use this feature, it needs to work efficiently, which is why I'm looking for one of these solutions.
    – Senseful
    Commented Jan 28, 2011 at 20:52
  • Yes, after reading the question I considered that I need the same thing, but I felt that I needed to point an alternative, where may be someone can give an advice for something that does just that - eliminate the last click :)
    – bisko
    Commented Jan 28, 2011 at 20:54

7 Answers 7


The best way to do this is with one of the more obscure settings in BetterTouchTool It works like this: A three fingered right swipe brings up the application switcher. Lift one finger to covert it into a two finger swipe and slide to whichever application you want.

It becomes an incredible natural and fluid gesture The beauty of the gesture is that it works anywhere on the screen and you don't have to position the mouse over the icons.

  1. In BTT assign the three finger swipe right to the application switcher.
  2. In BTT Action Settings -> Stuff(App Switcher) -> Use special application switcher

This answers the problem that bisko and senseful had above and avoids the last click or the necessity to be over the icon.

Single best gesture in my 'gesture vocabulary' and I have gestures for everything!

  • Awesome, I didn't see that setting. Thanks. It should be noted that this works even with the four finger gesture, if you want. Also, to get it to work with a three finger gesture, you need to keep the swipe to navigate feature of the trackpad feature enabled.
    – Senseful
    Commented Jan 29, 2011 at 19:56
  • Yes, sometimes the options are quite obscure ;) Thanks for the tip Frederiko!
    – bisko
    Commented Jan 30, 2011 at 12:04
  • Sadly that doesn't work for me very well because the mouse is so sensitive that it is hard for me to select the app that I want
    – Casebash
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 14:19
  • Another variation of this if you have the 3 finger swipe reserved for something else: Enable in Advanced Settings -> Predefined Action Settings -> use special application switcher. Assign TipTap Left/Right (1 or 2 fingers) and now the fingers still left on the pad can swipe to choose the app, lift fingers to select. Or with any other gesture with special app switcher enabled: after the gesture, use two fingers to swipe to app, lift fingers to select.
    – blub
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 12:13

Have you looked into BetterTouchTool? It lets you customize every touchpad input under the sun. You could for example remap the four-finger horizontal swipe to Cmd+Tab.

  • 1
    I'm actually trying that application right now, the problem is that you can't bind Cmd+Tab. When you try to, it just switches applications. Although, even if it did allow me to bind it, it wouldn't work very well because if you press cmd+tab and let go repeatedly, it just toggles between two applications rather than cycling through all of your applications.
    – Senseful
    Commented Jan 28, 2011 at 23:17

On Mac OS 10.6:

  1. Swipe with four fingers
  2. Swipe or scroll with two fingers to select the application
  3. Four fingers tap (no need to be over the app switcher) and it switches to the application you've selected.

What about using the Command-tab keyboard shortcut for faster application switching than with the trackpad? Add the ability to quit or hide selected applications along the way by tapping Q or H. Or, use LiteSwitch X for more enhanced app switching.


You can also use the keyboard to control the list of running applications that comes up with the four finger swipe left or right (it's the same thing as holding down ALT+TAB).

In particular, the spacebar switches to the selected application, so your first scenario can be accomplished easily: Swipe with four fingers to bring up the switcher (it automatically selects the 'next' application for you), and hit space.

Your second scenario is the same - swipe with four fingers to bring the window up, use 2 fingers to scroll and select the desired app (you can use the arrow keys or tab too), then space to switch.

As the spacebar is right next to the trackpad, I find that this is pretty nice :-)


Although I think this thread is intended for 10.6, I came to it via search, as Apple has dropped the described functionality as far as any is aware from OS X 10.7/8. I will describe a method to re-implement it below. (Is there a better venue for this?)

Following up on boertel and Orion Edwards' above;

Boertel describes the functionality as it exists in 10.6. (Which I use all the time, incidentally)

From Orion's, I wasn't aware of the fact that space selected the highlighted entry. (Return does as well.)

With these two facts, and BetterTouchTool, I think i've been able to replicate the behavior on 10.8 .

Set BTT to advanced mode.

Deselect Action Settings (Window Snapping etc.) --> Settings for Predefined Actions --> Use special application switcher.

Return to Gestures.

In Global:

Set four finger swipe left/right to "Application Switcher".

Set four finger tap to "Send Keyboard shortcut to specific application".

Set the keyboard shortcut to "space".

(We could just define the tap as a global space, but I don't want possible random spaces being executed.)

Set the application to the dock app found at /System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app .

Set Bring app to front before sending the shortcut. (Switch app back does not seem to be required, as the application switcher is changing the focus anyway.)



Thus far it is working correctly for me. If anyone can/wants to improve on this, please do! Hopefully this will be of some use in the future, to others looking to regain lost functionality. (Why Apple, Why?!)


I use (BTT) 3 finger gesture, ( two finger tiptap left ) what works for me is tap two fingers( leave the two fingers there) then followed by double tap with the third finger,(let go) then use the other two remaining fingers to slide witch ever app you wish to use (only active)

1. In BTT assign the two finger tiptop left to the "application switcher"

2. In BTT Action Settings -> Settings for predefined actions-> "check" Use special application switcher


** BTT is an Awesome APP, plus is FREE

NOTE: you must do the double tap single finger simultaneously, other wise the sliding won't work.

  • The answer above using three finger swipe on better touch tool is a good suggestion. Although it does not work on a multi-monitor setup. If your mouse is on a second monitor, three finger swipe up brings the "special application switcher" on your primary display only.
    – maindoor
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 21:38
  • BTT is not free now
    – Shlomo
    Commented May 23 at 21:09

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