Using Unreal Engine 4 on a MacBook Pro

Using Unreal Engine 4 on a MacBook Pro

Using Unreal Engine 4 on a MacBook Pro works quite well but for the first 24 hours it really pissed me off.  I want to keep track of a few things for you here which may save you some headaches because once I figured this stuff out (some of it by accident in fact) the process really smoothed over and now I’m quite pleased.

Plug in: Keep a Power Adapter Handy

You’ll probably need a power adapter at all times.  UE4 Editor seems to run my MacBook Pro quite hot even when I’m not doing things that are too egregiously intense and although I haven’t measured I’d say I get 90min of battery life out of this brand new MBP.  For that reason its worth plugging in or planning around taking breaks to recharge.  I’m getting a second power adapter (maybe even a third) so I can keep them all over the house.  hint: there are awesome external battery packs you can buy so you can recharge the battery pack instead of your MBP.  Leave me a message if you want a link and I’ll send it to you.  Maintenance Tip: Even if your MBP isn’t plugged into its power adapter, if your power adapter isn’t plugged into the wall without a surge protector it can be taking an electrical beating as long as its plugged into the wall which may weaken its lifespan.  Not that big of a deal but possibly worth noting.

Enable two finger right click



System Preferences -> Trackpad -> Point & Click Tab -> Secondary Click -> Click or tap with two fingers.

Enabling Two Finger Right Click
Enabling Two Finger Right Click on MacBook Pro


This is imho a great trackpad paradigm anyway but it will become critical (dare I say paramount) when we get to the step about trackpad navigation (below).

Enable Three Finger Drag

This also is a great trackpad paradigm and while not as paramount as the previous two finger right click I use this exclusively for dragging shit around but its a hard to find option:

Its NOT here where I would imagine it to be:

System Preferences -> Trackpad -> …

Its here:

System Preferences -> Accessibility -> Mouse & Trackpad (on the left) -> Trackpad Options Button -> Check Enable Dragging -> Three Finger Drag

Enabling Three Finger Drag
Enabling Three Finger Drag on MacBook Pro for Unreal Engine 4

Caveat/Quirk:  When in an orthographic viewport (top/front/left, etc.) dragging a selection box (using the touchpad and three finger drag) seems to be a bit ‘touchy’ (no pun intended) because the selection box quickly scrolls out of the viewport as if mouse acceleration is somehow instantly multiplied tenfold.

The Coup-De-Grace: WASD

If you haven’t noticed already its difficult navigating around the perspective view of the editor with the trackpad.  Navigating the Orthographic views isn’t bad because pinch and squeeze to zoom and two finger scroll work quite well but when going into perspective mode the trackpad controls seem to fall apart imho until you use the trick I’m about to describe.  In Perspective view pinch and squeeze to zoom work at tiny speeds (probably 1/10 of what I think they should making movement through the world space take an unworkably long time) and three finger drag should have come to the rescue but it works at the same abysmal and unworkable speeds.

Do not despair fellow MacBook Pro users!  Theres a cool undocumented feature that clears all of this up!  Ok its not entirely undocumented: it is documented although only slightly and barely and in such a way that you have to make some clever logical leaps to figure it out.  I had read the documentation about navigating viewports several times before and while I am obviously a brilliant logician 😉 I didn’t get this from the documentation. I stumbled upon this by accident and only then looked it up in the documentation to see what was going on.

Punchline: WASD work for navigation!  BUT ONLY if you have two fingers on the trackpad.

try it out!  without two fingers on the trackpad the ‘w’ key switches the viewport to resizing mode.  with two fingers on the trackpad (which effectively holds down the right mouse button which activates the WASD navigation mode in Unreal Engine 4) you can move around your world quickly and comfortably using familiar controls and in fact imho its a joy to navigate this way.

You can also use ‘q’ ‘e’ ‘z’ and ‘x’ and I’ll leave it to you to figure out what they do (hint: they’re pretty standard too!)


See if you can figure out how to get the ‘Maya Style pan orbit and zoom’ working with the trackpad. I haven’t figured this out yet.

Using Unreal Engine 4 on a MacBook Pro

Thank you for coming to this blog and reading this article.  I hope it was helpful and I hope we can continue to share tips with one another about how to best utilize Unreal Engine 4 on a MacBook Pro. As a matter of fact I have a favor to ask:  As you find more tricks and quirks and fantastic workarounds for using Unreal Engine 4 on a MacBook Pro please come back to this page and post them in the comments?  Bookmark this page now so you can come back to it.