How to Configure Spring-Loaded Folders

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

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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 them.

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). Many Mac users employ these two Finder windows to move files from one folder to another.

Spring-loaded folder delay
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Spring-Loaded Folders

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

With spring-loaded folders, you can click and drag a file over a destination folder, whereupon the folder will open 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 following instructions apply to macOS El Capitan (10.11) and later.

  1. Open System Preferences and select Accessibility.

  2. In the left window pane, scroll down and select Mouse & Trackpad.

  3. Use the Spring-loaded delay slider to adjust the amount of time that the cursor must hover over a folder before the folder springs open.

  4. Close the System Preferences window.

If you're running an earlier version of macOS, you can 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 will cause 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.