Ingenious app turns the MacBook trackpad into a mini canvas

Apple's MacBooks are among the best laptops money can buy, and anyone who uses one of the latest models will know how well the glass trackpads perform. They're essential for when you're on the move and don't have a mouse, but they do have their limitations. While you can use the trackpad to sign documents, for example, you need an external input device if you want to be able to draw anything.

But now a free app is offering a very cool solution, transforming the trackpad on the latest MacBooks into a mini canvas. The Magic masOS app enables you to draw anything on the trackpad using your fingers, allowing for spontaneous artistic expression with no extra hardware – if you need a device to use this on, see our guide to the best Apple deals.

See more

The app was developed by João Gabriel, one of the winners of Apple’s WWDC Swift Student Challenge. You can change the brush colour, size, and opacity and insert shapes like lines and squares. Best of all, since the Macs' Force Touch trackpads are touch-sensitive, the app recognises pressure levels and instantly adjusts the brush accordingly. Artworks can then be exported as png, jpeg or tiff files

Of course, there's no way this can replace an external input for serious digital illustration, but for quick sketches, or doodling as a distraction from work, it's very welcome. We can certainly see this being used for a game of Zoom Pictionary.

See more

There are a few performance issues and missing features, but Gabriel says they'll be coming soon. Version 2.0 is due in the next couple of weeks, adding layers support. The app's already getting some rave reviews on the Apple App Store (opens in new tab). One user wrote: "I can actually see myself using this in a pinch, or sketching a mockup. It works really well, and the app is designed really nicely! As long as you have a Mac with a big enough trackpad, it's a nice app to have." 

Another user wrote: "Nice! Easy to sketch out a quick idea while sharing the window on Zoom." Magic is compatible with Macs running macOS Big Sur and newer. If you're looking for a MacBook to run it on, see the best prices listed below, or if you're not yet decided on which model is for you, see our guide to the best MacBook you can buy.

Read more: 

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.