Smooth Gestures in Google Chrome lets you execute commands in the web browser relying only on the mouse, without having to appeal to the keyboard to open a new tab, close the currently open one, move back and forth in a website, etc. All this is achieved by simply drawing with the mouse a gesture, which is associated to a specific command.
Although few users employ them, mouse gestures make foe a very fast and comfortable way to control the web browsing software. Out of the popular web browsers today only Opera
comes with built-in support for gestures. In order to benefit from this functionality in Chrome
you have to appeal to third party add-ons.
Smooth Gestures fits right into Google Chrome and does not take long to install. There is no interface available, only the settings page which lets you assign mouse movements to different actions. The extension covers all frequent activities, such as navigating through web pages or refreshing as well as tab management actions like opening a new tab, opening a link in a new tab, closing them, shifting to the next or previous tab splitting or merging them.
This is not all you can achieve with Smooth Gestures; the amount of actions it can handle also covers scrolling up and down, starting a web page print job, zoom in and out and even translate selected text or copy it to clipboard. Smooth Gestures actually provides the possibility to create a mouse movement for almost any sort of action you can think of as long as page navigation or tab management is involved.
Its flexibility is displayed through a special section of the configuration page that allows you to create a set of custom actions. These can help you navigate to a specific web address by simply doodling with the mouse in a web page.
As far as the customization of the extension itself is concerned, the options include tweaking the way the gesture line looks like in terms of color and width. Moreover, as it can be used to create gestures activated by the middle button, the extension lets you force context menu on right click.
During our tests the gesturing worked on all pages we visited, but the developer warns that the extension may not work on all pages. To give you a heads up on its inefficiency the extension’s icon will be displayed at the end of Chrome’s address bar.
You can also deny gesture activity on specific domains by creating a black list. Multiple domains are supported as long as you punch them in separated by comma.
By default the gesture drawing button on of the mouse is the right one. However, you can change this to middle or left click. Combining left and right click is also a possibility when assigning a motion to an action.
As expected, Smooth Gesture comes complete with a list of movements for the most frequently used commands in a web browser. These are defaults in any browser supporting such functionality, but you can customize them to whatever feels more comfortable to you. Even more, you can assign multiple moves to a single command as long as no conflict occurs.
For plenty of users working the combination of web browsing with mouse gestures is a winning situation. But for this to work some practice is necessary. During our tests, although accustomed with this functionality from other applications, we needed some adjustment to the new environment.
It did not take long, but the real secret is to define gestures as clear and distinct as possible. The extension will not record the movement you make with your mouse, but instead it will intelligently interpret it to a shape. Whenever you make a gesture close to that movement, the assigned command will be automatically run.
In our case Smooth Gestures proved to be one of the most flexible solutions for employing mouse gestures. But despite these kind words, there are some flaws that need to be revealed.
Trying your doodle on a video window will make your move useless. Also, in some cases the gesture would get interrupted and refuse to draw the line, making you try multiple times. We experienced this when trying to access the "Options" window (hint: you can also reach it from a new tab by right-clicking the icon at the end of the address bar).
Still on the downside, we noticed at one moment that no trail would be visible when attempting to define a new gesture for a command. The movement would be recorded, but mouse movement would leave no trace on the screen (restarting Chrome fixed the problem).
Smooth Gestures offers a comprehensive range of movements for just about any command you need in a web browser. Configuration options are easy to understand and handle and cover page navigation as well as tab management.
Customization goes as far as letting you create a gesture for loading up a specific web address. Moreover, you can choose gestures between mouse movement, clicks or even keyboard shortcuts.
Sometimes more complicated gestures get interrupted and you have to try drawing them multiple times for the command to be executed.
During our testing we were unable to save a backup of the configuration settings.
All in all Smooth Gestures makes for a great tool that fits perfectly in Google Chrome. The minor glitches it displayed are no deal breakers if you are accustomed to using mouse gestures.