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Are You a Clicker or a Tapper?



Multi-touch on Tablets and slates have taught us all to tap to have our devices spring to life and execute our wishes. But on Notebooks, Netbooks, Laptops, and Desktops clicking is still all the rage. Until recently, the Mouse has been all about clicking, and trackpads (with or without buttons) have been as well. But does that tapping experience from Tablet/Slates transfer over to these other devices many of us have used for so long?

Apple’s Magic Mouse brought a button-less but still clickable mouse to the table, and the Magic Trackpad does the same thing. Both of these devices though offer you an option of clicking or tapping in order to get your work done. You can select those options in preferences. Apple’s trackpads on its portable computers include the same set of options. Some PC trackpads offer similar options as well.

Here lately, I’ve been trying to get away from clicking and focus more on tapping, and intriguingly I find it tough to do. To me it is a very natural thing to do on the iPad, but when it comes to the trackpad on my MacBook Pro or using either the Magic Mouse (which I don’t like very well) or the Magic Trackpad, I find myself wanting to put down pressure and click away.

I’m guessing there’s an advantage to tapping vs. clicking in that you aren’t using whatever mechanics are designed to make and register the click. Everything eventually has a fail rate, and the more you click, the sooner you would approach that, I imagine. That said, as I force myself to use tapping vs. clicking, I don’t find it an easy shift on a desktop or a laptop.

How about you? Are you a clicker or a tapper? Let us know in the comments or in the poll below. UPDATE: Looks like the poll isn’t displaying, so please leave your thoughts in the comments.



  1. Perry

    09/07/2010 at 12:52 pm

    I think the problem with the Apple touch solutions is that, on the Macs or PC, you’re expected to tap or touch a device other than the screen. I think the iPad and Tablet PC solution — tapping the screen itself — makes FAR more sense and is probably will become the UX of choice for most people.

    I’m already spoiled with my touchscreen Tablet PC and will occasionally find myself pointlessly jabbing at the screen of my non-touchscreen work laptop until I remember the mouse.

    • GoodThings2Life

      09/07/2010 at 1:44 pm

      I completely agree with you. Even Microsoft Research’s study recently proved that concept, at least, that’s what I took away from the results.

      Many people lack the abstract geometric reasoning skills required to operate that way… although it’s a developed skill, because think about the first time you ever used a mouse… maybe it was quick, maybe it took a while, but getting the hang of how the cursor moves in coordination with your movement of the device takes some practice, and when that is a very entrenched skill, it’s difficult to change that skill.

      Personally, I disable “tapping” on my touchpads precisely because of them being so sensitive and inaccurate. Call me old-school, but I prefer buttons.

  2. tivoboy

    09/07/2010 at 1:20 pm

    funny, I was in an apple store checking this out last week. Kept tapping and not clicking and it wouldn’t do anything. Had to go into the settings and enable it which of course made it LOVELY. Must buy soon.

  3. aftermath

    09/07/2010 at 1:33 pm

    On touchpads, I’m a button clicker. I hate tapping on the pad just to send a button-click even to the OS. However, I hate touchpads compared to pointing sticks.

    On pointing sticks, I prefer to tap if the stick supports (like the Fujitsu Lifebook P-Series devices), and otherwise I’m more than happy to click the buttons.

    • GoodThings2Life

      09/07/2010 at 1:46 pm

      Never could get used to the pointing sticks which is why I never liked Thinkpads much. But, now that you mention it, I never liked trackballs either… I guess that’s why multiple input methods exist, right? Options for everyone!

  4. leMel

    09/07/2010 at 5:49 pm

    I prefer tapping – but I just hate that dragging requires two taps and a hold. So many accidental file opens with that, so I usually reach for a button to drag. I know you can do the second-finger-add-click thing, but that creates accidental scrolling or right-clicking. Why can’t the pad be just a tiny bit flexy to get around this?

  5. Nameless

    09/07/2010 at 7:41 pm

    Definitely a button clicker. Tap-to-click on trackpads just makes things that much worse if my palms brush against the upper corners-if tap-to-click is turned on, it’ll often overwrite a big chunk of text I was working on as I’m feverishly typing. NOT GOOD.

    Then again, I hate trackpads (that aren’t on Apple ‘Books since 2005) and prefer TrackPoints if given the choice, though not to the point that I refused my current Gateway E-295C for only having a Synaptics trackpad over my older HP TC1100, whose keyboard was TrackPoint-only. Still, it’s reason enough for me to consider a Lenovo ThinkPad X61t/X200t/X201t or HP EliteBook 2710p/2730p/2740p as my next convertible, even if the later models add midget trackpads I’ll probably end up turning off within the first few minutes of setting them up.

    More to the point, I prefer conventional mice if I have to room to use them (generally desktops). So many buttons on higher-end models like the Logitech G500 to use, and if I’m in a gaming mood, I will need every single one of them. Problem is, classrooms-even in college-have irritatingly small desks, just enough for a closed book, one sheet of paper, or my E-295C in slate mode. Anything extra has to go on my lap. Ugh.

    I don’t have transitional issues moving between touch/pen digitizers and more conventional mice and pointing devices, or between input devices in general, for that matter. Maybe it’s an acquired knack.

  6. JD

    09/11/2010 at 4:59 am

    I would have to define myself as a tapper. But I have a good reason for preferring tapping, severe tendonitis in both index fingers. Tapping is simply easier on my hands and in the long run less painful. I have a tablet at home, but need a good solution for work; where I work on a double monitor under XP Pro. Unfortunately, I have yet to find an affordable solution and I’m not sure one exists. Someday Windows will catch up.

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