Mac Drag-n-Drop

frustrated-woman-in-front-of-computer-image-from-shutterstockMac Drag-n-Drop: a reader asks…

My Macbook Air has lost the ability to drag and drop files. I tried your tip of dragging photos from my Apple Photos app to a Finder window open to my Dropbox folder, and it didn’t work. I have El Capitan and my MBA is only a year old. Can you help?

A common problem that affects your ability to drag and drop is a matter of file permissions. It’s quite possible that your User Account’s permissions has been changed, and you no longer have the permission to write files to your Dropbox folder. The easiest way to resolve this is to use Disk Utility and the First Aid repair tool. Here’s how:

  1. macosx-disk-utility-first-aid-screenshotClick the spotlight icon and type “Disk Utility” Click the App icon to open the utility
  2. Click the First Aid button at the top, then confirm that you want to run First Aid
  3. Go do something else, it might take more than a few minutes to run. When it’s done, there’s a confirmation box – click the Done button.

This one-button utility (First Aid) replaces the older Mac OSX versions’ disk utility with separate buttons to verify and repair both File Permissions and Disk Errors. The First Aid utility fixes both in one fell swoop, so it’s both easier to use and faster. After you’ve completed First Aid on your Mac, go ahead and give the drag and drop procedure a try, it should work ok now.

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Dragging and dropping with the trackpad can require some fine motor skill dexterity that some folks have trouble with. For this, Apple has thoughtfully put in a way to change the way you drag and drop in El Capitan, under the Accessibility features. Open System Preferences, then click on Accessibility, and then click the Trackpad Options button. You can check the Enable Dragging checkbox and click open the drop-down list to choose from three options:

  1. macosx-accessibility-drag-screenshotwithout drag lock: Double-click (or double-tap) an item, then drag it without lifting your finger after the second tap. Place the cursor over where you want to drop the file and then lift your finger, which deposits the file where you lifted.
  2. with drag lock: Double-click (or double-tap) an item, then drag it without lifting your finger after the second tap. Place the cursor over where you want to drop the file and click the trackpad once to drop it.
  3. three finger drag: Use three fingers on the trackpad to drag an item to where you want it, lift your fingers to deposit the file.

I’ve found the three-finger method works pretty easily.


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