Calf Trail Thoroughfare

Introducing: Sesamouse

2010 January 18

Today we released Sesamouse, a free utility for Magic Mouse users. It extends the mouse's gesture support to include pinch and rotate, and also sends finger positions for advanced multitouch applications to use.

Story time!

Since seeing Jef Han's demo, it's been obvious that multitouch is a great way to do more stuff with less fuss on the computer. Then Apple started mass producing multitouch gadgets — phones first, then laptops. But then all desktops got was the Magic Mouse, which traded the Mighty Mouse's two spare buttons for..left and right swipe?

At Calf Trail, Nate needed a way to test out some multitouch gestures without having to buy a whole new MacBook. As it turns out, the Magic Mouse has full multitouch hardware that's able to track up to five fingers at once. It's only its software drivers that don't pass this gesture and touch information along to desktop applications.

There's code floating around the internet that reads more detailed touch information from trackpads and the Magic Mouse. The problem is that it needs a private Apple framework, which would make any program that uses it directly likely to break with operating system updates. At Calf Trail, we try our best to make reliable software. Directly relying on unsupported features didn't seem like a good solution at all.

But long story short, Nate spent some time in November reverse engineering the way gestures and touches are sent to legitimate applications. (Big thanks to Kris Markel and Nate's sister Alissa for taking the time to record and send sample data from their laptops. It was invaluable for figuring out how multitouch works on the new MacBook trackpads.) Once his Magic Mouse arrived, it was just a few more days work to build a solution to the multitouch dilemma.

That solution is Sesamouse, and it's a free download! It still uses some unsupported system features, so it might break eventually, but its design should reduce potential issues. We hope that Sesamouse makes using your computer more enjoyable, and encourages more developers to add support for multitouch gestures.

Oh, yeah, almost forgot: The Sesamouse application requires Snow Leopard (10.6), but the underlying gesture trick does work on Leopard too. Chime in in the comments if a Leopard version would be helpful to you.

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