Trackpad dragging the easy way

I’m surprised it took me as long as it did to discover that there’s an accessibility alternative for dragging. In System Preferences, visit Accessibility > Pointer Control > Mouse & Trackpad.

Click on Trackpad Options, enable dragging, and choose three finger drag from the pop-down.

I’ve been using three finger dragging for about a week now and it’s been a vast improvement over my attempts to drag items the normal way. Yes, I still end up running out of trackpad room as I always do, but using a finger from the other hand to nudge things where they need to go does the trick for getting my dragged items to their destinations.

I am using this almost entirely in Finder, although the same approach should work for moving words in a document or views in IB.


  • Never fear if you run into the edge of the trackpad and still need to drag a bit more. There is a slight delay before the dragging ends, enough time for you to lift and reset your three fingers back towards the middle of the trackpad and continue the drag. You don’t need to use another finger (from the same hand –ouch!– or from your other hand).

  • Thank you so much,
    missed this since they obscured the feature somewhere in the past.

  • hi,

    During a three-finger-drag, you can let two fingers rest on the trackpad (without moving them), and just move one finger. You can also lift this finger (while leaving the others down) and reposition to increase your reach.

  • Going to the Trackpad accessibility options is part of the very first things I do when I configure a new machine.
    I’m too much used to other proposed dragging option to find the “3 fingers drag” confortable, but this is a perfectly valid option.

  • I’ve used the 3-finger drag for years, but when I get a new machine (work or personal) it takes me forever to sort out how to enable it. I really wish it were also under the Mouse / Trackpad interface.

  • What is “the normal way”, though? On a trackpad, dragging is a 2-finger operation: click-hold with thumb, slide index finger around. Otherwise, the potential to run out of room arises.

    • I do it like Jessy. No settings to change, no finger strain, no running out of space.

      If you turn on the three-finger thing, surely you lose the ability to scroll with the other hand while holding your dragged thing?

      I have completely failed to persuade my partner though, so they basically miss out on the whole drag and drop feature :/

  • What a great tip! thanks