How to Use Magic Mouse with CAD

magic mouse

Back in October 2009, Apple surprised us with a new introduction to the Mac peripherals, the Apple Magic Mouse, the world’s first multi-touch mouse. In the past, Apple hasn’t been very successful with its mice, if you recall the round ‘hockey puck’ in ’98 and the deceivingly useless Mighty Mouse with its dirt-gatherer scroll ball, but many are starting to come around now that the company has seemed to have nailed it.

The Magic Mouse doesn’t have anything on its surface. It’s an aluminium base topped off with a smooth white polycarbonate multitouch panel, one seamless surface, and obviously with no Mighty Mouse scroll nipple. It’s a bit awkward to get used to at first, but soon it feels quite natural, especially if you’re used to the multi-touch trackpad on the Macbooks and Macbook Pros. Mind you, there are different gestures – as there’s no point in moving the cursor with your finger – but it allows you to scroll in all directions and also swipe left or right to move forwards and backwards within the Safari or Chrome browsers, as well as in Finder windows.

magic mouse gestures

Even though it might still look like the old one-button mice, it actually acts perfectly like a two-button one, precisely sensing which side you’re clicking. Touch-scrolling is probably the best part of it though, as it’s very fluid when you have intertial scrolling turned on (just like scrolling on the iPhone and iPad), allowing around 75 % of the surface to be used, that’s way down near the Apple logo.

CAD + the Magic Mouse

So anyway, it’s a beautiful piece of aerodynamic design (which kinda looks like a Dove bar of soap come to think of it), but the drawback has been for us CAD users that there’s one tiny thing missing… the essential middle scroll wheel! Without it to pan, zoom, and orbit around a model, it just takes ages to model anything really – thus rendering the device quite useless for 3D design.

Well the good fellas at Graphisoft have given it some thought and built in support for the Magic Mouse in ArchiCAD 14 (both Mac & PC). If you go to Options – Work Environment – Mouse Constraints and Methods and select the Pan option (Use wheel for pan and Alt+wheel for zoom).

work environment

Do not despair fellow CADers if you’re using a previous version of ArchiCAD, Sketchup, AutoCAD, whatever, a third-party app called ‘MagicPrefs’ comes to the rescue. Among the many preferences it offers to customise your magic mouse, it lets you define the central axis as the hypothetical third button, making it act pretty much like any other mouse. It also features the ability to bind a variable number of finger clicks, taps, swipes, pinch and other gestures to functions like Middle Click, hold down both mouse buttons, Spaces, Exposé, Dashboard, Recent Applications, Tweet, Read Tweets, Google Reader etc. More info at

For those who have tried and failed to make it also work on the Windows side, all is not lost. Some have found a few workarounds to mimic the experience. First make sure you update the Magic Mouse driver along with Apple’s Bluetooth Update. If the notorious scrolling still doesn’t work, it’s worth checking out the discussion on the Apple forum for any updates.

Also, some gleeful geeks have had some success by using a program called Katmouse or even a ‘tweaked’ Bluetooth driver over at UnEasySilence. They extracted the update from the BootCamp version of a Mac, and slightly modified it to run on non-Apple hardware. It’s worth a shot, right?

On the MagicPrefs side, I remember trying it after the Magic Mouse had first come out, and it really does help as you can customise the experience in great depth. The middle axis stripe does need some time to get used to if you’re used to the feel of scroll wheel panning, but it soon becomes second nature. It’s great to see such a great and sleek product not going unnoticed, and slowly it will prove worthy of edging its way into your workflow.

This article was published in the 1/2011 issue of ArchiMAG. Subscribe ArchiMAG now to read the latest articles.

Read more Apollo’s articles and tutorials on ArchiCADmonkey blog!

8 Responses to “How to Use Magic Mouse with CAD”
  1. Francis Antao says:

    Try CAD management or BIM management. master the software and be an educator. Ofcourse teaching is not easy and need some skills.

    Good luck

    • Fernando says:

      Point Cloud is the term I hear most frequently to csedribe a laser scanned raster object.A BIM? think Tower of Babel. Process vs Object, Noun vs Verb. BIM excites people because it simultaneously tries to be both a Product and a Service it is also easy and fun to say. BIM = BIM/CAD/VDC (Application Level Securities) + FTP/DRM/EDM/PIM/OCPM (Operating System Level Securities)A BimCloud, is a term I am working to popularize to csedribe a GeoDiscoverable security. Connecting people to the world’s building information is technically very achievable.

    • Sebas says:

      “I have to say that after spending 12 hours attnmptieg to somehow remeber what I’m doing in Autocad”This leads anyone to believe that you have had some Autocad training.”I really truly beleive(sp) that moving to a non object based Computer Tool like 2D CAD was one of the worst things our industry ever did.”Been doing it since the 70’s. Worked fine and is still working fine.”working in 2D CAD has I think also fostered a notion of “we don’t really think about what is going on” a good set of shop drawings in the hands of a competent person(not a newbie out of college, with the greatest computer software program) is and will be what the end fabricator always uses. Revit gets you close, but architects do not know everything, and much of the designing is left to subs.

      • Toni says:

        Je doute que l’on puisse dire que Revit Architecture de9passe ArchiCAD. Les vtnees de Revit Architecture sont aujourd’hui beaucoup soutenues par le produit AutoCAD qui est propose9 quasiment au meame prix (6500€) avec Revit dans le cadre de la suite AutoCAD Revit Architecture. En de9pit de ce fait ArchiCAD reste e0 mon sens aujourd’hui la solution privile9gie9 par de nombreux architectes, en partie par habitude (bien que la politique commerciale en France soit assez controverse9e) et en bonne partie aussi en raison de l’avance technologique acquise par ArchiCAD.Il n’en reste pas moins que l’un comme l’autre visent avant tout le haut du marche9 au risque de se couper de la base tre8s nombreuse d’utilisateurs qui restent encore aujourd’hui attache9e e0 la DAO 2D fae7on AutoCAD par esprit de simplicite9 et de vitesse d’exe9cution (mais aussi de budget). C’est pre9cise9ment en ce sens qu’un challenger comme , plus connu sur la sce8ne internationale comme IDEA Architecture , a toutes ses chances en proposant un logiciel d’Architecture 3D BIM reposant sur la philosophie de travail de la 2D sous AutoCAD et surtout pour des prix bien plus abordables pour le commun des entreprises (1490€)

  2. Eze says:

    “Sounds like you have not drawn a lot if your having to rebmmeer what you were taught.”I actually never received any formal training in Autocad. So, rebmmeering something I never totally learned (and never really wanted to) made a frustrating week that much more challenging.”Revit is a good tool for show and tell.”I would argue that Revit is far more useful then just a “show and tell tool”. Revit is a powerful program for designing and documenting a building.”This is going to be the largest learning curve that a contractor will ever face.”If a contractor is using Revit, and interested in IDP, then yes, there is a huge learning curve. If an architect is using Revit to develop a typical set of 2D documents as a final product. Then there is no learning curve for them, only us. It is still important to know what a good 2D document look like, but I don’t need to know how to use Autocad to develop a good 2D document.

    • Dylan says:

      I have two Autocad Classes under my belt that I took in the 90’s. Sounds like you have not drawn a lot if your having to rebemmer what you were taught. Getting a B.C. in Architecture does not make you a draftsman. Revit is a good tool for show and tell. You can not throw a program like this at centuries of established industry practices and expect it to work miracles. This is going to be the largest learning curve that a contractor will ever face.

  3. Pierro says:

    I have just recently straetd using Revit MEP 2011 and 2012 and I think it absolutely sucks period as a program. This program is totally not efficient at all and especially the piping module for plumbing vs heating piping applications is terrible. Whoever the people were at Autodesk that wrote the software need to go back to the drawing board. Autocad is such a cakewalk to do things and in my opinion is so much easier of the two ways to do when issuing contruction docs. Revit flat out is a joke!!!

  4. Hunter says:

    Sergio, it looks like you got in contact with sooenme at our office already to talk about Autodesk Quantity Takeoff. If you are using standard AutoCAD, and do not need tools that are as robust, you can use commands such as DATAEXTRACTION, BCOUNT and QSELECT.