Swipeable sidebars on MacOS

It would make my life a lot easier if both sidebars could be swiped open and closed using the trackpad.

I don’t use the keyboard commands often enough for them to stick in my head, and using the pointer is tiresome - especially as I have my dock set to disappear on the right, and trying to grab the handle of the sidebar often triggers the dock.


I believe this already works on iOS. We will consider it for macOS too.

Thanks for the feedback!

Yes, it does work on iOS and it’s really cool!

The more functionality in common between iOS and MacOS the better - where it makes sense! Makes switching between devices, which I do all the time, much easier.

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The only concern I have here is that another use for swipe on the Mac would be to go back in history, just like Safari does. I often find myself doing it out of habit in Agenda.

Not saying we will do that, but would need to be a discussion.

Swipe to navigate back and forward would be cool too! In MacOS and iOS! Having to have the side bar open to navigate in both platforms is a pain.

Perhaps something could be done with the length of the swipe or starting point distinguishing between moving sidebars and navigation.

I think consistency between the iOS and MacOS apps is more important than consistency with Safari, but I see the difficulty!

Bit of an old thread, but +1 for this! See Things on macOS for a really beautiful implementation (that has caused me to instinctively try the same thing on Agenda multiple times :slight_smile:

I know Agenda’s UI situation is trickier (given history, multiple sidebars, etc), but man would I use the heck out of a simple swipe to open and close the left sidebar!

And actually, one of my favorite aspects of the Things implementation is the preference checkbox General > Preserve window width when resizing sidebar (or more specifically, the ability to turn this off).

The Agenda equivalent (View > Show/Hide Projects Sidebar) seems to expand the overall window width when showing the projects sidebar would squish the main notes panel below a minimum width, but otherwise the default is to maintain the overall window width (and expand/contract the notes viewer/panel). I personally quite like setting the width of my notes panel, and then expanding or contracting the overall window width to retain the notes panel width that I’ve set.


Love this in Things.

Recently discovered that sidebars are now swipable on Mac.

However, I don’t understand the intended behaviour. When I swipe left, for example, it seems to sometimes open the right hand sidebar, and sometimes to close the left had sidebar.

I can’t work out if this is influenced by the position of the cursor, or where my fingers are on the track pad, or some combination.

Yes, it depends on where the cursor is, if it’s close to one of the sidebars the swipe will affect that sidebar only.

Is that normal Mac behaviour? I assumed it would mirror the behaviour of swiping sidebars on iPad, when iirc it’s the position of fingers on screen that matter.

There is no “normal Mac behavior” for this. It is not a traditional Mac gesture.

On iOS, the interaction is different, in the sense that you swipe across the screen. With the Mac, the pointer stays at the same location, but you use a kind-of scroll wheel gesture to get the swipe. So the two are not exactly comparable, but iOS also does use the location of the swipe in a similar way, because you can swipe across the edge you want to close. That is like putting the cursor near that edge on the Mac.

Thanks for the explanation. Perhaps some of my confusion is that I was assuming my trackpad was ‘mirroring’ the iPad screen, so it seemed illogical that the position of the cursor was relevant.

Having to take account of the position of the cursor seems unnecessarily complex.

This is an issue for me because I use a 13” MacBook, no other monitor, and I frequently want to switch between focusing just on my current note, with as much text as possible visible, and then opening one or other or both sidebars to navigate and view the calendar. So a quick “swipe left” and “swipe right” without moving the cursor, would make life easier. As a bonus: swipe up would hide both sidebars, swipe down, open them.

Perhaps some of my confusion is that I was assuming my trackpad was ‘mirroring’ the iPad screen

It doesn’t work that way, very few people have the trackpad put to such a sensitivity that it mirrors the screen. Look closely and you’ll notice that going from one end of the screen to another often requires lifting the finger, and doing a second move (or even three) with your finger to continue moving the pointer to where you want to go. Also, if you lift your finger and place it in the top left corner of the trackpad the arrow won’t move, it’s not like on the iPad that suddenly the mouse pointer jumps to the top left of the screen. They are very different input devices.

You actually nicely outline the problem here:

This is an issue for me because I use a 13” MacBook, no other monitor, and I frequently want to switch between focusing just on my current note, with as much text as possible visible, and then opening one or other or both sidebars to navigate and view the calendar. So a quick “swipe left” and “swipe right” without moving the cursor, would make life easier.

Yes, so which one? I swipe left, what should it do? Open the right inspector or close the left sidebar? Closing both wouldn’t make sense either as for one of the two it wouldn’t mean a very counterintuitive interaction (swipe left to close the right sidebar for example).

We then only have two options:

  1. either base the context on where the mouse pointer is, which is what we have done. i.e. if your cursor is close to the right edge of the screen, and swipe left, it’s more likely you want to open the inspector, than that you want to close the project sidebar. This resembles what we do on iPad where the action upon swiping depends on where you do the swipe on screen, which makes most sense of course.


  1. have a fixed order of things where in this case we give preference to opening over closing (swipe left first always opens the inspector, a second swipe left then closes the sidebar. swipe right first opens the sidebar, a second swipe closes the inspector).

Ironically because on iPad the mouse cursor doesn’t allow us to get the current position on screen, it is impossible to replicate the finger and mouse-location dependent behaviour of the Mac, and can only do this “fixed order” approach when you use a trackpad with your iPad.

Of course the biggest downside of this approach is that you can’t close both sidebars using swipes (again because it’s impossible to correctly guess whether your intention is to close left or open right (or vice versa).

At this stage, I believe the current behaviour (letting the action depend on cursor position) is the best choice.

Thanks for implementing this! And it certainly helps to understand that it’s based on cursor position (which makes sense for the reasons you’ve outlined above).

I notice that on macOS the close swipes don’t work when the mouse is actually on the sidebar you want to close. So in order to close a sidebar, I should mouse near the sidebar, but still in the main center window? I’m curious if that’s the intended behavior, since it seems like the sidebars themselves would provide nice, big and obvious mouse-over targets for this gesture.

If this choice was for parity with iOS, I’d humbly suggest that, given the differences b/w iOS and macOS, and the resulting parallel gesture, that it still feels more natural on macOS to mouse over something then swipe it away (the way that most swipe/scroll gestures on Mac work), whereas iOS has more of a convention of swiping from the edge of something to “physically” push it away (e.g. pushing the keyboard down).

Either way, very much appreciate that you guys are so engaged with users on your forums and that it actually influences your development decisions, it’s one of my favorite things about Agenda :slight_smile:

Thanks for your detailed response, much appreciated. Now I understand the behaviour, hopefully I can develop the muscle memory to open and close the sidebars quickly.

A single command or gesutre to open and close both sidebars would be welcome! Or the arrival of the ‘focus’ mode which would I guess acheive the result I want of maximum screen space with minimla clutter, to work on a single note.

This is indeed the real solution we want to go for. Hiding the sidebar etc is nice, but in a way a hack as long as we don’t have a dedicated focus mode.

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You are right, that’s not intentional but a side-effect of some other limitations. We’ll see if we can improve that bit.

I’ve been trying this. I’m confused. See video

Cursor is on the left. I swipe left. The left sidebar closes. Good!

I move the cursor to the right. I swipe right, expectiong to close the right sidebar. Instead the left sidebar re-opens.

I’m stumped.

You have to be closer to the split. If you are more or less in the “middle” (i.e. further than about 1 or 2 cm’s away from the divider) we follow the rule under 2) above.