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I’ve always considered myself as a keyboard person who prefers to do as many computing tasks as possible using the keyboard and the shortcut keys. Using mouse gestures to do things that is easier to achieve with keyboard, is an alien concept to me.

But that doesn’t mean that I will never embrace another potential ways to get my things done. The problem is, the only application that I know utilizing mouse gestures is Opera Opera 10 Browser Review: 6 cool features that make it stand out Opera 10 Browser Review: 6 cool features that make it stand out Read More , so I never really had the chance to really taste how delicious mouse gesture can be.

Then I found FlyGesture, a free application from FlyingMeat that promises to bring mouse gestures to every corner of the Mac OS X computing experience.

One Mouse to rule them all

If I have to describe FlyGesture using my own definition, I might say that this an application that will translate mouse gestures into almost any possible action(s). And before deciding that I am being hyperbolic, let’s see what this baby can do.

The first thing to do after opening the application is to visit the Preferences (FlyGestures –> Preferences menu or Command + Comma). Here you can choose which hotkey (and which mouse button) to activate the application and listen to gestures.

01 FlyGesture Preferences


The default activation hotkey is F1 and mouse button is disabled. You can change the hotkey if you want to. And if you happen to use a multi-button mouse with an unused button available, you can assign this button also to invoke FlyGesture.

02 FlyGesture hotkey

This app comes with a library full of preset actions. To see all the available gestures, you can open the catalog by going to Window –> Open Catalog menu or by using Command + T.

03 Gesture Catalog

You can add your own gestures by clicking the Plus (+) button at the bottom of the window. Deleting the existing gestures is also possible by clicking the Minus (-) button.

If you decide to add your own, you’ll see the gesture input pad. Click the middle button and start drawing your gesture. Click again when you’ve finished. Click OK to accept the gesture or reset to redraw. I suggest you to create simple mouse gestures because drawing difficult shape every time you want to do something can be frustrating.

04 FlyGesture Recording Gesture

After clicking OK, you can add actions that you want to be executed by the gesture you’ve just created. The options range from activating applications, running AppleScripts to typing texts.

05 Adding Actions

You can add several actions to one gesture, just like building Automator workflow.

06 Adding Many Actions

This ability opens up countless possibilities, limited only by your imagination. You can build a gesture to write a simple signature or you can go wild and create one that will: save your work, upload it to the FTP, create an email and send it to your clients telling them that the work is done, make the computer say “goodnight” to you, play a lullaby while you go to bed, and turn itself off.

Put the gestures into action

Using FlyGesture is as simple as pressing the hotkey (or the chosen mouse button), perform the preset gesture to activate the assigned action(s) and pressing the hotkey once more. That’s it.

07 FlyGesture in action

Some might think that using mouse gestures is not practical because you have to memorize so many gestures. But I think it’s the opposite. Just create one or two (or several) gestures that will perform complex actions that you do routinely, and use your normal methods to do everything else. This way, you’ll get the best of both worlds.

Since FlyGesture also works with trackpad, it’s also possible to use it to write Chinese characters on older MacBooks if you want to.

Have you used FlyGesture? Or do you know other alternatives to mouse gesture applications? Share in the comments below.

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  1. connectionfailure
    September 27, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    I also use xGestures. I bought it because I think it is better than FlyGestures and besides the customizability, there is a user interface problem with FlyGestures. It is subtle, but it is related to using a Mac. On the Mac the Menu Bar at the top is an 'infinite' distance away (see Bruce Tognazzini's site at http:.// ) so you can really fling the mouse up there without any fine motor control.
    I found FlyGesture's gesturing unusable because the edges dont work this way. You have to be very careful about hitting all the circles in the right order or the gesture doesnt trigger.
    The plug-in for Quicksilver was even better than xGestures because it supports diagonal lines but I resisted the temptation of using it without knowing if QS would be around.

  2. Qon
    September 27, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    I'm using the FireGestures extension for Firefox :).
    Tell me a feature a browser has that Firefox hasn't? (ok there might me some)

  3. Anomaly
    September 27, 2009 at 10:33 am

    I use Xgestures on the Mac. It's not free but only costs $5 so it's pratctically free. It is an amazing app. I haven't tried Flygesture but from the looks of your article it looks like it's not nearly as customizable as Xgestures is. With Xgestures you can set gestures per program or globally. You can use any key combo as an action for the gesture or use a programs menu items as the action. So there is not much you can't get done with a gesture.

    Xgestures for Mac and Stroke It for Windows and you are covered for mouse gestures on any program.