The Little Driver That Could

I have a Powerbook G4 and I love it. I wouldn’t trade it for any of the Windows notebooks in the world. However, there is one teensy, tiny little thing I envy about all of those behemoth Windows notebooks–the built in scrolling on the trackpad. Just run your finger down one side of the trackpad, and voila! scrolling like magic. Now, I don’t need to be envious any longer because I found a driver for OS X that does the same thing and a whole lot more (ok, so really Dustin found it).

Before I go any further I must warn you that this software is BETA! If you don’t know what that means, don’t install it. Simple as that. The software is known as SideTrack and it is currently at version 0.8.

Installation. Installation was fast, just run the program you download. However, when I rebooted the fist time, I didn’t think my computer was going to boot. It took a LONG time to move from the grey screen. Don’t worry, it booted normally the next time I restarted. When you finally get it rebooted, tapping the trackpad is turned off by default. Go to System Preferences and at the bottom you’ll see the SideTrack button. Then configure away. This driver has a LOT of features. Go to the link above for a good list of everything it does. I’ll just cover the features I found most useful.

Scrolling. You can set up the scroll area to be either on the left or right of the trackpad and you can set the width of the scrolling area. It takes a while to get used to the scrolling and where exactly you need touch the trackpad to get it to work. If you set the area wider it may help you get used to it. After using it for a week I can pretty much always hit the correct area. You can also set up horizontal scrolling but since I rarely need to scroll left and right, I haven’t set it up.

The button. You can set the mouse button to be either a right or left mouse click. At first I set it up as a right click, since I mostly tap the trackpad to left click (if you intend to keep it this way, you need to set the tap to “left click with drag“ or you won’t be able to move windows or select text). However, after using that button as a left click for over a year, I found it was just too hard to retrain myself to see it as a right click. So, I changed it back and found a different solution for right clicking.

Corners. You can set the corners to be a left or right click, or a keystroke, or other options. So, for right clicking, I set the top left corner to a right click. It takes some practice to find exactly where you need to tap, but you can always make the area bigger and I like it better than Ctrl clicking.

Ok, that’s what I like about it. There is really only one thing I can complain about–sometimes your mouse will freeze for a second or two. Not really too annoying but you will notice it. Overall, though, it’s very, very cool. And the thing I love the most? You can set it to let you tap to select the user to login. I never understood why tapping didn’t work in the fist place.


I’m still trying to get all of the little problems worked out with the default css but it looks like, other than that, everything is working. Now I just have to actually take the time to update more than once every six months. We’ll see…