Middle click on macOS in 2021

Ryan Hanson
Mar 25, 2020 · 3 min read
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The Magic Trackpad and Magic Mouse are truly amazing devices, but there’s one thing that is just missing: the middle click. I’m not sure why Apple never built in at least some way to execute a middle click, but there’s been a few 3rd party solutions that have come up over the years. I was dissatisfied with all of them, and added in my own implementation for executing a middle click in my app, Multitouch. Realizing that a lot of people wanted just the middle click functionality from Multitouch, I extracted only that behavior into a separate app called Middle.

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It’s a purposefully simple one-job app that lets you execute a middle click from one of the following gestures:

  • Click with two fingers on the Magic Mouse
  • Click with three fingers (trackpad or Magic Mouse)
  • Tap with three fingers (trackpad or Magic Mouse)
  • Tap with four fingers on a trackpad
  • Force touch with one finger on a Force Touch compatible trackpad
  • Click with one finger in the center of the Magic Mouse

Or you can hold the ‘fn’ key and left click with any device that clicks.

For most people, the middle click is just nice to have for opening links in new browser tabs, as opposed to using two hands to do a cmd click. Also, you can middle click on a tab to close it in almost any app.

For Terminal users, middle clicking to paste selected text can be a huge time saver. Honestly, one of the biggest things I miss about Linux is the ability to paste selected text from any app to anywhere. I spent a decent amount of time trying to recreate this global behavior on macOS in my Multitouch app, but eventually pulled the functionality because frankly it just wasn’t good enough. Middle clicking in Terminal will just have to suffice.

For users of CAD and other 3D modeling software, middle clicking is typically how you pan in your application. That’s where Middle (and Multitouch with a setting checked) are different from the other options out there. The middle click down and up events are synchronized with the physical down and up click from your device. Other apps typically execute the down and up middle clicks after the physical up click from your device. Let me know if Middle or Multitouch don’t work for panning in your application and I’ll see what I can do to support it.

Other applications do support the middle click in other ways, but those are the most common. It’s a shame that Apple didn’t add it in, but hopefully Middle or Multitouch can help you out!

Ryan Hanson

Programming. Daydreaming.

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