Dragging and Dropping Items Across Mac: Here’s How

Nick Clair
dragging and dropping items across mac: here's how

Dragging and dropping is the easiest way to move apps, files, and other documents across Mac. It is one of the basic functions you must master to use your Mac fully. With it, you can rearrange items, move files, move content from one application to another, and much more.

You can drag and drop the trackpad or an external mouse on the Mac. But if drag and drop suddenly stops working, it can be annoying. To continue working productively, you must learn how to fix drag and drop not working on Mac. The possible fixes are:

  • Checking the mouse or trackpad to ensure they’re in perfect condition. So go to System Settings > Bluetooth if your mouse or trackpad is connected to your system via Bluetooth. If it is a USB cable, check whether the cable is securely connected.
  • Relaunch the Finder application if drag and drop has stopped working system-wide.
  • Reboot your Mac.

You can drag items or documents on your Mac with one, two, or three fingers. Double-tapping and drag lock can also initiate a drag. Continue reading to master all the different techniques.

  • Using a mouse or trackpad

You can drag and drop items across Mac using a trackpad or wired/wireless mouse. No matter what you choose, the process is almost the same.

Choose an item you wish to drag, such as a file, document, mail attachment, image, or text. Press and hold the mouse button or trackpad while dragging the item to its new location.

In the new location, release the button or trackpad to drop the item.

If you find it difficult to drag items with the trackpad using one finger, use your thumb to click and hold. Then, drag the item to the new location using your index finger. With your thumb holding the click, you can use your index finger to move the item anywhere.

  • Trackpad and the three-finger drag

With the trackpad on your Mac, click and hold to drag and move items across the system.

You can enable the three-finger drag by going to Settings > Accessibility > Point Control > Mouse & Trackpad > Trackpad Options > Enable Dragging > choose Three Finger Drag > click OK.

With the trackpad, choose an item or click, hold and drag your finger across the trackpad to highlight multiple files or text. You can hold the Command key for sequential files or the Shift key for side-by-side files. Hold the trackpad to move the highlighted selection and release the trackpad to drop the selected items into the new location.

  • Drag Lock

If you use Drag Lock, the dragging will be locked even if you don’t have any fingers on the touchpad.

You can turn on Drag Lock by clicking the Apple menu > System Settings > Accessibility > Pointer Control > Trackpad Options > selecting the Use Trackpad for Dragging option > choosing With Drag Lock from the menu > OK.

  • Dragging and dropping without a trackpad

Using the trackpad is not mandatory to drag and drop files on your MacBook. Instead, you can use the primary click or left-click on your system to highlight the items and move them across your device.

Connect a wired or Bluetooth mouse to your device. Click to select the items you want, or click and move the mouse to highlight them. You can move multiple files by pressing Shift and clicking the nearby files.

Also, you can click and drag your mouse around the files or items you want to move. Then, drag the mouse to a new destination and let go of the highlighted items to drop them into the new location or folder.

  • Dragging and dropping from Mac to iPhone and vice versa

Suppose you have essential files on your Mac that you need on your iPad. But, if the file sizes are too large, copying and pasting them may take time. And you don’t have so much time!

So, what’s the solution? Universal Control!

If you don’t know what Universal Control is, it is an exciting feature on macOS Monterey and Ventura that allows the seamless working of Apple devices together.

You can use the feature by signing into your iPad and Mac using the same Apple ID. Then, keep the devices close, turn on Bluetooth, connect to the same Wi-Fi network, and switch on the Handoff feature.

Then, you can move the cursor from one device’s display to the other using the trackpad of any one of the devices. The cursor will go from one screen to the next without a fuss, and you can drag and drop items between your devices.


Mastering dragging and dropping on your Mac can save you time and effort. Initially, it may not seem like a lot, but adding the seconds saved daily will boost your productivity and reduce your overall working hours.

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