Disable Pinch to Zoom Gesture in Safari & Mac OS X

Apr 22, 2012 - Leave a Comment

The pinch to zoom gesture is one of those features borrowed from iOS that has since come to the Mac OS X platform. It’s a natural fit for iOS and even in some places within OS X, but it’s also much easier to accidentally activate on the Mac when doing something simple like browsing the web. All it takes is an extra finger or thumb on the trackpad and the zoom is accidentally enabled, which can have a strange effect of causing a Safari window to lock up with all text and images in a frozen blurred state. Several people I know have interpreted this inadvertent zoom activation as the Safari browser freezing, and it can be frustrating enough that some will want to disable it.

If you want to turn off the pinch-zoom gesture, here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Open System Preferences from the  Apple menu
  • Click on “Trackpad” and choose the “Scroll & Zoom” tab
  • Uncheck the box next to “Zoom in or out”

Disable Pinch to Zoom in Mac OS X

Changes take effect immediately, when satisfied just quit out of System Preferences.

Unfortunately when you turn off pinch to zoom it is system wide, meaning you will lose the gesture elsewhere in OS X in addition to apps like Safari, where it functions as a zoom tool. Without the gesture, you can still zoom into webpages by using the traditional keyboard shortcuts, and you can still use the two-finger screen zoom as well, which is activated with a scrolling motion and hot key.

Of course, you can always turn the pinch & spread zooming abilities back on by going back into System Preferences, and re-checking the appropriate box next to “Zoom in or out”. Changes take effect immediately when reenabling as well.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

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