Windows to OS X: BetterTouchTool

November 10, 2012
OSX Tools

Not too long ago I finally got myself a new laptop, and this time I decided to get the 15” MacBook Pro Retina. I’ve been using Windows 7 primarily the last couple years since my work laptop has been the only machine I have had. Previous to that I had been using Linux (Ubuntu specifically) for a couple years.

While I have nothing really against Windows, it really isn’t my preferred operating system for anything other than games (and even that is changing with Valve supporting OS X and Linux now). But I have gotten used to a few Windows 7 features that OS X doesn’t support.

Aero Snap

By far the biggest thing I miss in OS X from Windows 7 is Aero Snap. I really got used to managing my applications this way. Since I’m a developer I often times want to have a couple terminal windows or log files open side by side. It was really handy to be able to just type Win-Left and snap the log viewer to half the screen and then do Win-Right to snap the other log to the right half. That along with Win-Up maximizing my screen are easily my most commonly used Windows shortcuts.

Better Touch Tool

Fortunately I stumbled on BetterTouchTool which has really proven handy. Basically BetterTouchTool allows you to get many of the Aero Snap features but by completely customizing how you want it to work. The other thing I really find interesting is that it doesn’t completely copy Aero Snap so it isn’t just a cmd-left or cmd-right to do the windowing. Instead it relies on one of my favorite OS X features, multi-touch gestures.

BetterTouchTool starts out with a completely blank slate so you’ll have to install it and set it up yourself. While I like the fully customizable nature, I think it actually would have been a good idea for them to have provided at least a couple smart defaults to start you out with. So for me, I’ve come up with these conventions to get a similar experience to Aero Snap.

For me, I just have the basics configured right now. These are the settings I have to give me a similar experience to Aero Snap:

My BetterTouchTool Configuration

Pretty simple, but you can see some other interesting things that you can do with BetterTouchTool. You can customize gestures per input type so the Magic Mouse, Track Pad, Keyboard, mouse or Apple Remote all have their own customizations. What you don’t see in this picture is that you can even configure custom gestures per applications. So you could even have gestures for things you do in Finder or Safari or whatever application you like.

There really is a whole lot that can be done with BetterTouchTool as it is extremely configurable and has tons of gestures and supported actions. I’ve just barely touched the surface with this tool so if you’re looking for something similar I’d definitely recommend you give it a try.

Side note

While researching tools to give me a similar experience to Aero Snap I used this Apple StackExchange post. As you can see there are a ton of good options but I’ve decided to try out BetterTouchTool. If you have tried any of these others let me know! I’d love to hear experiences with these tools or BetterTouchTool itself.