Apple Trackpad on Windows with 3-finger drag!

A month ago, when I needed to get a new laptop for work, I switched from a MacBook Pro to a Dell XPS 9750, saving £100’s of pounds for what on paper is an almost identical laptop. Except it isn’t. Dell’s XPS is astonishingly good, and it’s a priviledge to own one, but I’ve become an Apple devotee over the years and can’t change it. My days are spent programming for Windows so I need a fast PC development environment and therefore the XPS makes sense. With the MBP I need to use VMWare Fusion or Parallels, and Apple are really pushing my (and other people’s) limits by charging so much money for memory and SSD upgrades. So I went for the XPS. 

Of all the little things I miss, 3 finger dragging is way up there. To be fair, the XPS’s trackpad is one of the best out there for Windows laptops, and with Windows 10 there is a double-tap to drag gesture which is fantastic. But the trackpad is too small and two taps (versus a single 3-finger drag) are one tap too many.

After a bit of Googling, I found Magic Utilities, a company that make drivers and utilities for Apple wireless keyboards, the magic mouse, and the Magic Trackpad. When I used Windows as a virtual machine on the MBP I got used to a particular mapping of the Alt and Cmd keys; the keyboard utility app lets me restore these mapping. Also, I’ve just discovered that the Eject key now becomes delete, although my fingers have 5 years of muscle memory which means that delete = Function + Backspace.

(Now, with the Apple keyboard, the function and control keys are where they should be IMO! There are loads of people asking Dell whether it’s possible to swap these keys on the Dell keyboards but it really can’t be done.)

Apple’s wireless Magic Trackpad performs terribly on Windows 10 by default. There are few (if any) gestures, and the whole feel of the cursor on the screen is terrible. Magic Utilities Trackpad app changes this completely:

Now I can scroll, drag, single-finder tap, and not a mechanical click in sight. 

I’ve now bought a one year licence after trialling this for a couple of weeks without any problems. Now I work with the XPS lid closed and just the wireless mouse and keyboard in front of an external 4K monitor. 

For the odd occasional where I might work 12 hours a day the little things, both positive and negative, soon accumulate, so the ~£20 cost of this bundle is really a bargain. 

Now if I could just find a similar utility to turn Windows 10 into Mac OS… 😀

Scanning receipts from iPhone to OneNote (App Store)

There are many ways to scan a document, such as a receipt, and import it into OneNote. I’m now using the App Store version of OneNote on Windows10 and one of the (many) limiations is the inability to resize large images without having to cut them out, edit, and paste back in.

I’ve tried a bunch of scanning apps on the iPhone and one of the main issues is finding something than can scan, including auto-detection of document borders, adjust brightness and contrast, and send to OneNote. The Adobe Scanner app for the iPhone is awesome but the PDF appears in OneNote as an icon and doesn’t appear to want to change into a readable document!

So for now the fastest way I’ve found is to use the Microsoft Office Lens iPhone app – this does a great job of scanning and although I can’t change the image resolution I can set it as a simple black and white image and send directly to OneNote.

First, run Office Lens.

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Then let it find your document – it helps to have some natural contrast between the edges of the document and the background. 

Make sure that the Document option is selected:

Display the filters after scanning the document – just slide your finger up to view them:

I’m choosing the black and white option as it seems to help keep the file size down and also makes the receipt more readable:

After applying the filter click on the Done button at the bottom and go through the export options:

Enter a title for the note and choose which section on OneNote to save it to:

 

It would be a great improvement if the Office Lens app could have a quality or file size option to reduce the amount of data stored in ON. There are already suggestions for this on the Office Lens feedback hub going back to 2015 – not sure if anyone’s listening tho!