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Question: A Multitouch Touchscreen Monitor for Apple Mac OS X

Introduction

Having become familiar and comfortable with using a touchscreen to control phones (Android 4.4) and tablets (Windows 8.1 and Android 4.4), in 2015 I sought to bring a new lease of life to a retired 2008-vintage MacBook Pro by adding a multitouch monitor. Online research and pre-sales email conversations with candidate touchscreen monitor OEMs highlighted a dispiriting fact: Apple’s official line – “Touchscreens: iOS = Yes, OS X = No!" – has had a generally chilling effect on said OEMs (whose touchscreen monitors are designed for Windows 8 computers), in that, when it comes to adding one of their touchscreen monitors to an Apple Mac OS X computer, they range from uninterested via dismissive to woefully ignorant. It was only thanks to fellow OS X end users vividly showing what can be done, such as...

'Multi-touch Mountain Lion’, by diffractive – video, 1’13"

» https://youtu.be/cq9rqxlsTH0

…that I persisted in achieving my own OS X multitouch monitor goal. Indeed, I'm actually adding this User Tip Contribution from an on-screen touch keyboard [1] on the touchscreen of my own Dell S2240T multitouch monitor, attached to a 2008 MacBook Pro running OS X 10.9.5 (video via DVI-to-HDMI cable, plus touch data via USB cable). So I’m posting here in the hope that other folk desiring 'A Multitouch Touchscreen Monitor for Apple Mac OS X’ in future may benefit from my discoveries, by finding this message during their own online research.


All You Need Is Love OS X Driver Software

The vital linking component is an OS X driver, which takes the multitouch events signals (arriving at the MBP’s USB 2.0 port from the Dell S2240T’s upstream USB 2.0 port, via the USB cable included with the Dell S2240T) and serves them up to OS X in ways that make the touchscreen work as a multitouch monitor. AFAICS, the world leaders in developing such touchscreen drivers (for multiple OS’s) are Touch Base [2] – and with their Universal Pointer Device Driver (UPDD) and ‘UPDD Gestures.app’ I’m enjoying what Apple seem to obstinately refuse to contemplate: OS X on a multitouch monitor, where all the familiar trackpad multitouch gestures just work on the Dell S2240T touchscreen.


As an aid to choosing touch-centric devices, Touch Base maintains a list which has been built up over their years of experience:

• Touch Device List @ Touch Base

» http://touch-base.com/touch_device_list.asp

To get the highest level of OS X trackpad-like usability on a touchscreen, you’ll want to scroll down to the list’s 'Touch Monitor – Multi touch’ section, and pick a ‘Manufacturer' and ‘Model' which has a blue-&-underlined link entry in the right-hand 'UPDD touch controller definition’ column. Doing so means that the Touch Base OS X UPDD + Gestures driver suite will work with said manufacturer’s model of multitouch monitor.


Universal Pointer Device Driver by Touch Base – Caveats

(A) Evaluation For Free – you’re welcome to try-before-you-buy, by ordering up an evaluation copy of UPDD from the Download Centre webpage (single touch) [3]; by email request, you can also try out an evaluation copy of Gestures (multitouch). Pre-sales email support was top notch.


(B) Multitouch Utility – while it’s true that OS X isn’t designed for touch (unlike Android or iOS, for instance), I’m finding that OS X is as easy to use under touchscreen control as the Windows 8.1 desktop environment (which isn’t touch-optimised either). Given that right-clicking, scrolling, task switching, etc., can occur using the same multitouch gestures on-touchscreen as Mac users are already familiar with from trackpad use, I’m very pleased indeed to have been able to transcend beyond a physical keyboard and trackpad [4].



(C) Cost – at the time of writing (Mon 30 Mar 2015) a single commercial UPDD licence costs £95.00 / $171.00 / €133.00, while the cost for a single home/personal/educational use UPDD licence is £57.50 / $109.00 / €90.00 (to which VAT must be added, as appropriate). So in the UK, I paid £57.50 + 20% VAT = £69.00 via PayPal invoice (see their ‘Prices’ webpage for details of bulk pricing reductions, means of payment, etc [5]). While this may seem pricey for a "mere" driver, IMHO it’s well worth the investment for the multitouch rich utility boost it brings, and just compensation for all the programming expertise that’s gone into so elegantly working around Apple’s obstinate ‘No OS X touchscreens!’ dogma.





So if you too would like to be using OS X on a multitouch monitor, I can personally recommend both the Touch Base OS X UPDD + Gestures driver suite, and also a Dell S2240T multitouch monitor (of course, other OEMs are also available: any other UPDD-supported multitouch monitor in Touch Base’s 'Touch Device List’ ought to work just fine, too).



Peace-&-Love,

Tim Jones


[1] An on-screen touch keyboard – VirtualKeyboard by Vincenzo Corallo, 14 day shareware then $19.95 for new users:

» http://www.corallosoftware.it/index.html

The built-in OS X ‘Keyboard Viewer’ works too, and other Virtual Keyboards are also available – see, eg:

» http://www.touch-base.com/documentation/Virtual%20Keyboards.htm#_Mac_OS_X



[2] The world leaders in developing touchscreen drivers (for multiple OS’s) are Touch Base:

» http://touch-base.com


[3] Order up an evaluation copy of UPDD from the Download Centre webpage (single touch):

» http://touch-base.com/download.asp


[4] Able to transcend beyond a physical keyboard and trackpad – of course, this is only an option and by no means a necessity!

• The only (slight) disappointment is that when both MBP and Dell S2240T multitouch monitor are in their respective low power sleep states, a finger tap on the touchscreen doesn’t wake the system up. So I’m currently using a old Belkin Bluetooth mouse for wake-up duty and occasional text selections, and I have a second-hand Magic Trackpad on order – since there are a few times when the familiar OS X multitouch gestures are easier to execute on-trackpad than on-touchscreen (for instance, when an on-screen finger obscures a helps-if-you-can-see-it detail, eg: text selection, or object-handle manipulation).

• Also, I hunt and peck (one-finger typing) rather than touch type, for which Vincenzo Corallo’s on-touchscreen VirtualKeyboard is proving to be Very Useful Indeed – but a typing-heavy touch typist user may still prefer to use a physical keyboard, wired or wireless, over its on-screen keyboard analogue; and since the two forms of keyboard input are not mutually exclusive, they could be mixed-&-matched on the fly.



[5] Touch Base’s ‘Prices’ webpage:

» http://touch-base.com/prices.asp

MacBook Pro (17-inch Late 2008), OS X Mavericks (10.9.3), Apple A1189 battery - dead

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Apr 22, 2015 3:39 AM in response to Dalinian61 In response to Dalinian61

Hi there. I have downloaded the UPDD with gestures and it is awesome. (When it is working !!!)


I have it hooked up to a Philips 23' Smooth Touch monitor running through and Mac Mini using Yosemite. I did quite a lot of research on a monitor with this set up and even the people at Philips, (And their website), says it works on MAC OS X. As it turns out, they don't have any drivers for the touch functionality of this monitor let alone gestures that works with MAC OS !!!!! So, I found the UPDD software on Touch-Base and thought it was worth a shot.


when it is working it is awesome. My kids love it as it is like having a giant iPad, and I like it because not many people have done it.


Having said that, I have a couple of issues that I have been trying to sort out for the last couple of weeks.


Now before I start, yes I have downloaded the manual that comes with the software and I tried to set it all up as per those, but to be honest they made it worse. The default settings from install seem to work best in my case.


When I boot up the mac mini from sleep to even a full reboot, the touch functionality just stops. I can resolve it by unplugging the USB connection and that starts the UPDD app, but then I have to reload the Gestures software again. I have been through all the instructions and changed the settings in the gestures app to start up at login etc, but then it doesn't seem to retain those details.


Do you have that issue with your setup ? If not, how did you get around the boot up issue I am having ?


The other issue am having is that when I open the gestures settings, the app just hangs and I have to connect a mouse to close it down and start again. I don't have a mouse connected to the Mac Mini, (Defeats the purpose of having a touch screen), nor do I have a trackpad. I have a USB keyboard and the Mac Mini runs off my wireless network at home.


If it helps I am running a late 2012 Mac Mini, 16GB Ram with 500GB SSD and am using Yosemeti 10.10.3


If you have any tips to make this software work, that would be great.


Thanks for your time😐

Apr 22, 2015 3:39 AM

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May 4, 2015 1:58 PM in response to NZRatty In response to NZRatty

Hi NZRatty,


Pleased to hear that you're also after creating a Mac touchscreen system - and I'm sorry to hear it's less than optimal, so far.


I didn't experience the setup issue you describe in your post, but I did have a suboptimal circumstance of my own, to do with a sleep/wake cycle setting UPDD Gestures to produce two mouse down/up events per finger tap instead of one. This led to a discovery which fixed my issue, and which I hope will benefit you, too - regarding tech support, Touch Base are one of THE best enterprises I've dealt with in decades: concerned with an individual customer's satisfaction, and agile enough to code a fix for a novel issue, should such arise (as happened in my case).


So my recommendation for resolving your setup issue is to contact the bloke who helped me to get my UPDD & Gestures setup working perfectly (and feel free to mention that I commended you to him):

• Dave Bhattacharjee <dave@touch-base.com>


Regarding having no mouse or trackpad (since doing so "defeats the purpose of having a touchscreen"): while I appreciate the intention, I'd advise against such techno-puritanism. My experience is that there are two items that compliment my Mac touchscreen perfectly:


1) A second hand Apple Magic Trackpad from eBay

In minimising my carbon footprint, my Mac goes through many sleep/wake cycles per day. Unfortunately, a tap on my

Dell S2240T multitouch monitor (when it's in its own minimal power sleep mode) won't wake the Mac up again - but a Magic Trackpad click does wake the Mac, which then wakes up the monitor. Then I can mix-&-match the familiar OS X trackpad gestures on either the monitor screen or the Magic Trackpad, whichever is most convenient in the moment.


2) An Adonit Jot Stylus

I've been using stylus-equipped hand-held computers/phones/tablets for a decade and a half (since the Apple Newton), so I was keen to see if an "accurate" capacitative stylus plus the OS X Ink facility would enable handwritten input on a Mac touchscreen. Online research revealed that Adonit's Jot range offered the greatest precision, but sorry to say that the 'Jot Flip + OS X Ink + Dell S2240T monitor' combo isn't responsive enough for sufficiently accurate handwritten input - especially in contrast to the brilliant 'Samsung S-Pen + Google Handwriting + (Wacom digitiser equipped) Galaxy Note Pro 12.2' combo on which I'm handwriting this post.


However, for brief text input (eg: a web search string), I find using the Jot Flip stylus on the VirtualKeyboard to be often quicker and more accurate than a right index fingertip. And on a user interface designed around the accuracy of a pointing device (mouse/trackpad/trackball), I'm finding the "sharpness" of a Jot tip tap to be a good deal more accurate than the "bluntness" of a right index fingertip. Indeed, it's so useful that I've reconfigured 'Press' in Gestures settings to 'Click using: Right mouse button', so that a press+hold with Jot stylus tip brings up the ever-useful context pop-up menu.



I hope you find Touch Base's tech support to be as exemplary in resolving your setup issues as they were in optimising my system, and that you may find my trackpad and stylus experiences enlightening.


Best wishes for achieving a Smooth Touch OS X system that works smoothly,


Tim Jones

May 4, 2015 1:58 PM

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May 4, 2015 2:20 PM in response to NZRatty In response to NZRatty

I note that you're running a "late 2012 Mac Mini" which has four USB 3.0 ports. Don’t know if you came across Touch Base's 'Known Hardware Issues' documentation page, but it may be pertinent to the issue you describe:


USB 3.0 issue

A number of Mac customers have reported difficulties with touch devices plugged into USB 3.0 ports that do not arise when used in USB 2.0 ports / hubs. This was observed thus far on the following controllers but could be more widespread:

iNexio, HID Multi-touch, USB


» http://touch-base.com/documentation/KnownHardwareIssues.htm

May 4, 2015 2:20 PM

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May 31, 2015 11:36 PM in response to Dalinian61 In response to Dalinian61

Hi Tim,


thanks for your very helpful reply.


I was talking to a guy at Touch-Base, but he didn't seem to be able to help me with the issues I was having. With perseverance and patience I played around with settings in and I think I have got it all sorted.


The trick to it not booting up when I started the MAC Mini was a two part fix.


In order for the UPDD software and Gestures App to open on start up and wake up from sleep, I had to put these items into the two start up folders in the MAC. One was in the Library folder of the Hard drive, and the other was under the Systems folder. Not sure the of the technical side of things, but I had to put the applications into BOTH of these folders for it to work. Just putting them into one didn't seem to work.


The second part was a little simpler. I just had to turn the screen off when I put the Mac Mini to sleep, and then turn it back on when I woke it up. It was like re- booting the screen, which somehow kicked the screen into touch mode. If I didn't do this, the screen would not work at all when you touched it.


I have still gone with the the lack of trackpad an mouse only because my daughters like using the set up without it and it doesn't seem to be hindering them.:o) I have to say the the set up gets a lot of comments from people that see my kids using it. All of their friends actually like using it and are more than happy to do their web based homework on it. Having the Touch screen certainly makes things so much easier for them, and they enjoy the interaction more as it is a bit of a novelty. If they made bigger, (Still affordable), screens I would probably be keen to swap out the IMAC for the same set-up.


So all in all, it works really well and to anyone that reads this ,I totally 100% recommend using the Touch-Base software to run a touch screen. And you can run pretty much ANY touch screen using their software.


And also a big thank you to you Tim for taking the time to respond.


Regards


Daryl

May 31, 2015 11:36 PM

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Jun 10, 2015 3:05 AM in response to NZRatty In response to NZRatty

Hey Daryl (NZRatty),


Very pleased to hear as how your creative persistence paid off in troubleshooting your Mac Mini/Philips 23' Smooth Touch monitor setup. Here's hoping that your sharing your solution will benefit others, too. In part, it reminded me of the comic genius of Graham Linehan, for whom the #1 response to any call for IT Support must always be "Have you tried turning it off and on again?" – see, eg: 'The IT Crowd' » https://youtu.be/nn2FB1P_Mn8


Good to hear that it's the young generation in your family and neighbourhood who have taken most enthusiastically to your Mac OS X touchscreen – my guess is they're demonstrating an intuitive understanding of the growing superiority of touch technology in human/computer interaction. I'm finding I'm using the VirtualKeyboard on my Mac touchscreen for search queries, quick edits, and the like; but for a paragraph or more of text, in terms of ease-of-use and accuracy, nothing comes close to the natural handwriting recognition of Google Handwriting Input via the S Pen stylus and the digitiser touchscreen of my Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 tablet – and Evernote makes passing text, pix, and data between OS X and Android effortlessly easy.


From the description of your solution, it sounds to me like Dell may have a better take on [ monitor | video source ] interaction than Philips (although admittedly this hypothesis is based solely on the small sample size of our two respective touchscreen monitors). I like my screen so much that I've added running my Sony PlayStation 4 through it's HDMI port, while the Mac is using its DVI-D port (plus USB for touch event data) – and the Dell monitor is set to autoswitch between these two video sources. Send OS X to sleep and it'll intelligently choose between switching to PS4 (if HDMI signal = on) or going off to sleep itself (if HDMI signal = off). Wake up OS X (with a tap on the Magic Trackpad), and its DVI-D signal wakes up the Dell monitor too, ready for OS X touchscreen interactivity. This kind of multi-vendor smart interoperability makes these technologies a real joy to use, IMHO.


Best wishes for a bright Smooth Touch OS X future,


Tim

Jun 10, 2015 3:05 AM

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Jul 19, 2015 7:46 AM in response to Dalinian61 In response to Dalinian61

thank you all for laying the groundwork for those researching touchscreen on their macs. does this solution (touch base etc with a dell touchscreen) end up with a true multi-touch environment (gestures etc). specifically, for developing multi touch Flash AIR applications, want to know if they will communicate out of the box with this setup. do you know how many simultaneous touch points it can handle? (many windows installs can do 10 for example).


unforuntately the touch base drivers trial claims to disable true multitouch and only gives you 100 single clicks per calibration trial. that's a shame because you aren't able to evaluate and really test their drivers for multitouch (how can i be confident and purchase the license?)


thanks and best regards,

z

Jul 19, 2015 7:46 AM

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Apr 23, 2016 7:27 AM in response to Dalinian61 In response to Dalinian61

Thank you so much for this posting!


I am building a recording studio in home and want to build a couple of touch screen monitors into the console to use for the mixer mostly. I had already found the touch-base drivers and am excited. My only issue was finding the right monitor. I assume any of the multi-touch ones listed with the blue links should be fine.


My real question is whether multiple monitors are supported. I read somewhere that they were, but was wondering if anyone has experience with it.


Thanks again for the confirmation that this works!

Apr 23, 2016 7:27 AM

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Sep 1, 2016 7:20 AM in response to Gharis66 In response to Gharis66

I just picked up one of the Dell touch monitors and hooked it up as a secondary monitor on my rMBP running Yosemite. - In mirroring mode, the touch seems to work reasonably OK out of the box, but in order to get it to act as a separate display, I had to use the UPDD driver. Not sure it's a great long-term solution, given that the driver costs almost as much as the monitor itself. I'll give it a whirl on my Mac Mini and see how it goes. Production apps like ProPresenter and Wirecast are kinda nice with a touchscreen.

Sep 1, 2016 7:20 AM

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Nov 21, 2016 8:54 AM in response to Dalinian61 In response to Dalinian61

Hi Tim,


I see you posted this a long time ago, but wonder if you are still using this setup and how it has coped with all the situations you have thrown at it over the last year and a half? Have touch-base been keeping all the drivers up to date for Sierra etc.?

Really I'm most interested in finding out if the Adonit Jot or some other Bluetooth stylus you have found designed for capacitive touch displays has MacOS/OSX drivers so I can use the side buttons to do right and middle click.


For me I just want a decent size UI screen for my video editing and finishing applications like Assimilate Scratch and DaVinci Resolve to replace my current Wacom Cintiq 13HD which I have enjoyed using for some time but find just too small for many of my most often used applications. With it and a keyboard I can do everything I want, fast and efficiently, I just end up hunched up a bit too close to the screen to see and accurately hit the UI buttons. Unfortunately the next step up in size from Wacom to a 22"HD is £1400 GBP (Approx $1750 USD at current exchange rates)! This I find extremely hard to justify cost wise, but I do find going back to a mouse or magic pad so slow by comparison (though I do miss the multitouch swipes from my MacBook). I have looked at similar pen displays from other manufacturers and even bought a Huion GT-185 but just found the quality of the display (only 6bit panel with dithering to approximate 8 bit) and software drivers to be too poor for general use, with pointer accuracy impossibly bad near the edges of the screen. A newish kid on the block is the Asus PT201Q which has a mac driver, is available for the £600 price of my Wacom Cintiq 13HD, has multitouch and pen with buttons, is an ideal size and reports suggest a decent screen, but the latest OSX drivers are dated early 2015 so likely don't support Sierra and may not be due to be getting any updates to do so if they haven't already at this stage. These are all products for artists looking to sketch with pressure sensitivity though and, whilst it can be fun to play with, I don't need that for my work, I just need hover, click, right click and middle click. Swipes and gestures can be very helpful too. Frustratingly it seems that Microsoft have seen this particular set of commonly useful elements and built them in to their Surface devices and even have the 3 button surface pen which seems ideal if only it had MacOS drivers. I am very close to moving to Windows to have this option and the kind of hardware flexibility for the top end that is missing these day from Apple computers. The only things holding me back are some MacOS only software tools that are essential to my work.



Apple continue to re-iterate how multitouch on computers is something they have looked at and decided they aren't interested in. Unfortunately, as with many decisions from Apple, this decision leaves those with specific use cases where it can be extremely beneficial or even essential (e.g. for artists painting or drawing on a computer), out in the dark. I can appreciate that it wouldn't work well for many desktop apps without a redesign of the UI, and iMacs would need new lay flat and tilt stands to make them comfortable to use like this, but there are many situations where it works very well indeed and provides enormous productivity gains. Maybe the stylus with buttons is the missing link here, for me it really is what helps bridge the mouse/trackpad pointer paradigm to enable direct on screen interaction for conventional desktop software, I wonder if they looked at multitouch on desktop in context of a stylus with buttons? Anyway, for me it works brilliantly to have a stylus and a number of applications I use are designed around either a stylus or touch screen and I want to be able to drive my high powered workstation with one. With the Apple pencil and iPad Pro they have demonstrated how they could make brilliant products that satisfy this niche, leaving those of us occupying it frustratingly tantalised by the possibilities. The new 4K and 5K LG / Apple partnership displays and their wide colour gamut beautiful displays also tantalise. I want those with multitouch and a stylus!


Sorry, rant over.


Anyway, for now I hope that a solution can be cobbled together to make a 3 button pen and multitouch display setup work on OSX/MacOS, with a decent quality 8 or 10 bit 22" IPS display of at least 1080P HD resolution (ideally higher)! Or if it can't be done with existing products on the market then I hope a company comes along and makes one!

Nov 21, 2016 8:54 AM

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Question: A Multitouch Touchscreen Monitor for Apple Mac OS X