Three Finger Drag: A Very Useful, and Somewhat Hidden, Mac Trackpad Gesture

There are many useful Multi-Touch gestures for Mac trackpads. These can be discovered and turned on or off by going into the System Preferences, then choosing TRACKPAD. However, one of the most useful Multi-Touch options was effectively hidden with the release of El Capitan: Three finger drag.

Three finger drag allows you to drag windows, files, the cursor etc., by sliding on the trackpad with three fingers at the same time. It acts just like clicking and dragging, only you don’t need to click. This used to be listed with the other gestures in the System Preferences, but was conspicuously absent in El Capitan. Many thought it had been removed completely, but, thankfully, it has just been moved to the ACCESSIBILITY settings.

To activate three finger drag in El Capitan:

  1. Click  in the menubar, then choose SYSTEM PREFERENCES.
  2. Click ACCESSIBILITY accessibility.
  3. Choose MOUSE & TRACKPAD from the list on the left mouseandtrackpad.
  5. Check the box by ENABLE DRAGGING, and choose THREE FINGER DRAG from its drop-down menu.
  6. Click OK, and close the System Preferences.

Jason Merrill, Mac & iOS Consultant