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Apple knows how to make an attractive product. Never has a blank slate looked as good as the Magic Trackpad 2, whether you get it in silver or space gray. But for an extra $50, is it worth buying over the Magic Mouse?
If you’re in the market for an iMac or a new workstation accessory, you’ve probably found yourself comparing these two gadgets already. Both are in their second generation, with rechargeable batteries and multitouch surfaces, but they offer totally different user experiences.
Here’s why the Magic Trackpad is better than the Magic Mouse.
1. You Can’t Use the Magic Mouse While It Charges
This is hands down the biggest problem with the Magic Mouse 2. When Apple added a rechargeable battery, they positioned the charging port on the bottom of the mouse. It maintains the sleek design of the Magic Mouse, but now you can’t use it while it charges.
In contrast, the Magic Trackpad 2 has a sensibly placed port on the back. It’s easy to plug it in without interrupting your workflow and you’re never forced to take a 15-minute break for recharging. All without compromising the aesthetics.
The most troubling thing about the charging port placement is that it shortens the lifespan of the Magic Mouse. Eventually, the built-in batteries for both devices will age and stop holding a charge. At that point, the Magic Mouse becomes completely useless but you can still use the Magic Trackpad while it’s plugged in.
2. More Gestures and They’re Easier to Use
The Magic Trackpad is a 6-inch by 4-inch multitouch surface with ample space for all kinds of finger gymnastics. Apple takes great advantage of this by including a total of 11 gestures in macOS, available for you to turn on and customize from the System Preferences.
These intuitive gestures are easy to learn and comfortable to use. In no time at all, you can swipe between pages, open the Notification Center, zoom in on documents, and go to Mission Control with nothing but a flick of the fingers. And that’s not to mention the extra gestures you can create using BetterTouchTool.
Although the Magic Mouse also has a multitouch surface, it’s a fraction of the size and much harder to use. Apple clearly agrees because they only include four Magic Mouse gestures in macOS, and that includes scrolling!
3. Magic Trackpad 2 Supports Force Touch
Introduced with the original Apple Watch, Force Touch recognizes the difference between a gentle tap and a hard press. You can use it to access a range of extra functions across Apple’s native apps and several third-party ones.
Many people write it off as a gimmick, but there are actually lots of useful things you can do with Force Touch if you’re willing to embrace it.
I use Force Touch to look up definitions, peek at websites, and preview documents in Finder. But you can even use it to create pressure-sensitive drawings or to dynamically fast-forward videos in QuickTime.
None of this is possible with the Magic Mouse, which only uses regular clicks. So even if you would rarely use Force Touch, that option is still only available with the Magic Trackpad.
4. Haptic Feedback Gives You Control Over Clicks
Unlike the Magic Mouse, the Magic Trackpad doesn’t actually click. It senses pressure as you push down on it and uses haptic feedback to give the sensation of clicking. That’s how it keeps clicking when you use Force Touch and that’s why it doesn’t click at all when it’s off.
There are three reasons why this is a great feature: fewer moving parts, an entirely clickable surface, and customizable clicks.
Since the Magic Trackpad doesn’t move when you click it, there’s less chance it will wear out over time or suffer physical damage. You’re also not as likely to clog the mechanism with grime since all the moving parts are sealed inside.
With the Magic Mouse, you can only click at one end. But with the Magic Trackpad 2, you can click anywhere on its large multitouch surface. This is particularly useful when your fingers are swishing all over the place with so many gestures at your disposal.
And finally, you can customize the haptic feedback to respond to harder or softer clicks. Not only does this let you fine tune the trackpad to your liking, but you can even enable Silent Clicking to make the Magic Trackpad entirely silent.
5. It’s More Comfortable Than the Magic Mouse
Comfort levels differ from person to person, but it’s plain to see Apple didn’t design the Magic Mouse with ergonomics in mind. It has hard edges, a narrow touch surface, and a relatively flat profile. All of which contrasts the best ergonomic mice available.
Personally, I don’t find the Magic Mouse uncomfortable to use but plenty of other people do. Even so, it’s clear to see that a taller mouse would fit in my palm better while there is absolutely nothing I would change about the Magic Trackpad.
It features a comfortable slope with a large surface that you can click anywhere on. It takes up less space than a mouse pad. And if you turn on Tap to click in the System Preferences, you don’t even need to press down.
The Magic Trackpad Earns Its Higher Price
Ultimately, there’s a lot of space for personal opinion on this subject. You’ll find no shortage of Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad supporters online. In the end, it comes down to deciding what’s best for you.
If you’re looking to play video games, the Magic Mouse might be best. Otherwise, I suggest the Magic Trackpad. Fifty bucks isn’t a high price for all the extra features you get: twice as many gestures, more functionality with Force Touch, and silent clicking thanks to haptic feedback.
Regardless, if comfort is your primary concern, find out how to make your entire workstation more ergonomic and take advantage of Apple’s 14-day return policy to try out both options.