How to Configure Spring-Loaded Folders

Set the delay time for spring-loaded folders in Mac Finder

Spring-loaded folders are a feature of the Mac Finder tool that allows you to view the contents of a folder before committing files to it.

This is a workaround for the common tactic of opening two Finder windows—one for the source file and one for its destination (or potential destination). It bypasses the need to open two folders.

Information in this article applies to macOS Catalina (10.15) through macOS El Capitan (10.11).

Spring-Loaded Folders

Spring-loaded folders offer a simpler way to move files between folders, as they don't require opening multiple instances of Finder.

With spring-loaded folders, you can click and drag a file over a destination folder, whereupon the folder opens to display its contents. You can quickly and easily drill down through folders to locate a specific folder for your file and then let go of the mouse to commit the file to the chosen destination.

The amount of time the mouse pointer must hover over a folder before it springs open is governed by a user setting.

You can exit out of a spring-loaded folder by pressing the Escape key.

How to Configure the Spring-Loaded Folder Delay

The setting for spring-loaded folders is found in System Preferences on the Mac.

  1. Open System Preferences by clicking its icon in the Dock or by selecting the Apple in the menu bar and choosing System Preferences in the menu.

    Mac Dock showing the System Preferences icon
  2. Select Accessibility in the System Preferences window.

    System Preferences on a Mac with Accessibility highlighted
  3. In the left pane, scroll down and select Pointer Control. (In earlier versions of macOS, select Mouse & Trackpad instead.)

    Accessibility system preferences with Point Control highlighted
  4. Place a check mark in the box in front of Spring-loading delay and drag the slider to adjust the amount of time that the cursor hovers over a folder before the folder springs open.

    Spring-loading delay option in Accessibility preferences
  5. Close the System Preferences window.

If you're running an early version of OS X, you adjust the spring-loaded folder delay through Finder itself. From the Finder menu bar, select Finder > Preferences > General.

Spring-Loaded Folder Tips

If you're traversing multiple folders you can speed things up by holding down the spacebar when your cursor highlights a folder. This causes the folder to immediately open with no wait for the spring-loaded delay.

If during mid-move you decide you don’t want to move the item to a new location, you can cancel out of the spring-loaded move by moving the cursor over the original item location.