I just upgraded from snow leopard to Lion. My 3 finger swipe for page up/down is not working.

Any suggestions?

4 Answers 4


Three Four Three possible answers in one!

1. Note that in many apps, the 3-finger page up/down looks a lot like 2-finger scrolling. It smooth-scrolls just like in 2-finger scrolling, but with the 3-finger gesture it stops once you've gotten one window-full up or down. When I first tried it in Safari, I guess I was expecting it to jump-scroll up or down a page, and when it smooth-scrolled, I thought it wasn't working right. Then I realized it stopped after moving exactly one pageful. [Update: I wrote that from memory and now that I'm back in Lion, I can't get it to behave the way I'd seen before and now I'm second-guessing myself.]

  1. Note that there are several conflicting 3-finger gesture settings in Lion's Trackpad pref pane. If you set one gesture to 3-fingers and it conflicts with another one, the other one will get changed behind your back. It might get disabled, or changed to its 2-finger or 4-finger variant. Go back and check on how you have the page up/down gesture set, and make sure it's set to the gesture you want.

  2. I believe some of the oldest MacBooks/Pro/Air that support Mac OS X Lion have older trackpads that don't support multi-finger gestures. I suppose it's possible that you have one of those old laptops and the Trackpad panel in System Preferences wasn't smart enough to detect that, so it showed you options that aren't actually available on your hardware.

  3. Hold your fingers farther apart when you do the gesture, in case it's not registering 3 separate touch points?

  4. On further investigation, this only seems to work on page-by-page apps, not continuous-scrolling apps. For example, I opened up a long PDF in Preview and I had it in continuous-scroll and the gesture didn't work. But when I switched it to single page mode, it worked. What app were you trying the gesture in?

  • 1. So how do I fix it? 2. I have a new macbook pro, 15" (20days old), 3. Tried it. There is no difference between 2 or 3 finger swipe. Tried on firefox, safari and pdf reader.
    – zengr
    Jul 21, 2011 at 16:12
  • @zengr Okay I updated my Answer with a suggestion for fixing #1, plus I added a #4.
    – Spiff
    Jul 21, 2011 at 18:18
  • 4. Firefox 5.0 only for now.
    – zengr
    Jul 21, 2011 at 18:44

This is by no means a solution but it's a detail I've noticed while troubleshooting this myself.

Holding option while doing a 3 or 4 finger swipe may actually get you your old gesture behavior. Whether you need to do option-3 finger swipe or option-4 finger swipe is dependent on how you have your system preferences configured.


I've solved this problem on my machine and I once again can do a three-finger-swipe up and down to switch between mail messages and such.

I have this preference file:


In here I have a key called "TrackpadThreeFingerVertSwipeGesture" set to "0", I changed it to 1, then logged out and back in again and the up / down gesture was restored!

A couple points:

  • I had trouble doing a defaults write to edit this file, it may have just been user error but that's why I manually edited the file which I generally avoid doing.
  • I'm using the Magic trackpad, I'm not sure if the file will have the same name on a laptop or with another device.
  • I also filed a radar on this: #9816096
    – trmb
    Jul 21, 2011 at 17:51
  • not able to find it on bugreport.apple.com
    – zengr
    Jul 21, 2011 at 19:25
  • pretty sure you have to be inside of apple if you want to actually see other people's radars but you can at least reference the number in your own. I updated mine with the solution but left it open since I feel like I never should have gotten into that state in the first place.
    – trmb
    Jul 22, 2011 at 2:35
  • does not work for me. I am using macbook pro's touchpad
    – zengr
    Jul 22, 2011 at 6:10
  • having trouble on my Macbook Pro as well, darn! It did work on both my Mac Pro and home iMac though, both using Magic Trackpads.
    – trmb
    Jul 22, 2011 at 8:24

Found this application and it's working well for me:

BetterTouchTool lets you define tons of gestures for your Macbooks Trackpad, your MagicMouse and your MagicTrackpad. In addition to that it brings lots of new stuff to MacOS like Windows 7 like window snapping, window switchers etc......

  • yea i saw that too, but 3 finger swipe is a default feature of mac, why would they remove it.
    – zengr
    Jul 21, 2011 at 23:12
  • many gesture behaviors and their corresponding APIs have changed in Lion. 2, 3, and 4 finger gestures are working fine for me.
    – peelman
    Jul 22, 2011 at 2:21

I got the 3 finger up and down scroll back by going to Preferences - Trackpad - Scroll & Zoom and UNCHECKED "Scroll Direction, natural" --- that put the scroll back the way it was before, including the 3 finger page up and down swipe.

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