Chromebooks leverage quite a few trackpad gestures to get you where you need to go. From 2-finger scrolling up and down websites to 3-finger scrubbing between tabs, trackpad gestures are a really big part of the overall Chrome OS experience. Once mastered, these quick flicks on a trackpad can move you through the UI quickly and give you productivity and multitasking chops that make using a Chromebook a speedy, intuitive affair.
One setting that has existed in Chrome OS for a very long time is the ability to set up what Google now calls reverse scrolling – formerly known as Australian scrolling. This setting basically reverses the scrolling gestures on your trackpad for most actions and seems to feel odd for some users coming off a standard mouse and scroll wheel and feels natural for those of us more used to trackpads and touchscreens. It is turned off by default in Chrome OS, but I keep it turned on. People are pretty polarized on their opinions of which setting is the ‘right’ one, but regardless of your feelings on that, there’s one gesture that really simply shouldn’t be reversed: 3-finger swipe up for overview mode.
When you want to go to the view that shows all open windows and open desks, the entire animation stack moves in an upward fashion and you would expect that the gesture used to invoke it would follow suit. When reverse scrolling is not turned on, however, that is not the case. For those not using reverse scrolling, the gesture for overview mode is actually a 3-finger swipe downward. While I can see the other gestures making sense in either direction (scrolling, back/forward), I can’t see it for this one, and apparently Google can’t either.
One gesture to rule them all
In an upcoming change that is already live without flags in the Developer Channel of Chrome OS, your Chromebook will now give you a quick pop-up notification the first time you swipe up or down on the trackpad with all three fingers. In that pop-up box, you’ll get a quick hint that Google has decided the gesture for overview is now locked to a 3-finger swipe upward on the trackpad. And, honestly, that’s the way it should be.
Imagine moving through your virtual desks with a 4-finger swipe in the opposite direction you want the screen to move. That wouldn’t make any sense, would it? That is how I feel about the gesture to invoke the overview mode. A 3-finger swipe up feels natural, intuitive, and will make sense for not only current Chromebook users, but for the tons of new users coming on line every day. We’ll be glad to see this move down the channels and hit Stable in the coming weeks.