Several years ago I bought an old PowerBook G3 Lombard in pieces, put it together and installed OSX 10.3. It worked surprisingly well and was good enough for email, web and other basic stuff. However, one of the biggest disappointments was how ‘dumb’ the trackpad software was. That was the first time I discovered Raging Menace and two pieces of software that they make that are completely awesome: MenuMeters and SideTrack. Last week I acquired a PowerBook G4 550 MHz laptop and remembered how necessary SideTrack was. Without it the laptop was painful to use without carrying a mouse around at all times. It makes these old trackpads just about as useful or maybe even more useful than the new multi-touch trackpads that Apple has introduced. I like this software so much that I am taking the time to introduce more people to it.
I know this is a post about enhancing Apple trackpads, but first a quick note about MenuMeters. If you’re familiar with Linux you’re probably used to having a nifty system resources ‘gauge’ that provides live information about processor activity, RAM use, network activity and more. OSX comes with an application called ‘Activity Monitor’ but it’s a resource hog and doesn’t provide a simple interface that can be visible at all times.
MenuMeters adds this feature to OSX by making this data available in the main menu bar next to your wireless network status and volume control. It takes very little resources. I don’t know exactly how little, but if you can run it on a PowerBook G3 running OSX 10.3 while being able to do OTHER things, it apparently isn’t using very many resources. It’s so excellent that it should come with OSX pre-installed. The good news? Raging Menace offers MenuMeters as a free download.
This little bit of software is just as valuable and unassuming. SideTrack opens up that simple, one-purpose Apple trackpad and turns it into a powerful, multi-purpose device. Suddenly your trackpad is endowed with vertical scroll, horizontal scroll, the ability to set each corner of the trackpad to evoke a custom key command and more.
SideTrack isn’t free, but you can try it out for free and, if you find it useful, purchase a license for $15. Totally worth every penny. It’s definitely easiest to understand its many features by just downloading and installing it. However, these screenshots of the preference panes will tell you a lot.
Check out these excellent pieces of software at ragingmenace.com. You won’t regret it.