How to Configure the Finder's Spring-Loaded Folders

Set the amount of time to pass before spring-loaded folders get sprung

Spring-loaded folder delay
Use the slider to adjust the spring-loaded folder delay time. Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

Spring-loaded folders are one of the many tricks the Mac's Finder has up its sleeve to make managing files easier. One of the most common tasks to undertake is the copying or moving of files to new locations. Using the Finder, many of us will result to opening multiple Finder windows, one containing the source files or folders to be moved and a second window containing the destination. At that point, the move can be accomplished by dragging the file or folder from one the source window to the destination window.

Spring-Loaded Folders

But there is an easier way, one in which you don’t have to open multiple Finder windows or spread the windows around on your screen so you can see them clearly. Instead, spring-loaded folders, which have been part of the Mac OS since before OS X, let you click and drag files or folders. When you let the mouse pointer hover over a folder, the folder will open to display its contents. You can quickly and easily drill down through folders to locate a specific folder or file, and then click and drag the file or folder to its target destination.

The amount of time the mouse pointer must hover over a folder or window before it springs open is governed by a user-set preference.

Configure the Spring-Loaded Folder Delay (OS X Yosemite and Earlier)

  1. Open a Finder window by either clicking the Finder icon in the Dock or clicking on a vacant area of the desktop.
  2. Select Preferences from the Finder menu.
  3. In the Finder Preferences window, click the General button.
  4. Use the slider to set the Spring-loaded folder delay time.
  5. When you're done, close the Finder Preferences window.

Configure Spring Loaded Folder Delay (OS X El Capitan and Later)

  1. Launch System Preferences, either by clicking its icon in the Dock, or selecting System Preferences from the Apple menu.
  2. Select the Accessibility preference pane in the System Preferences window.
  3. In the left-hand sidebar of the Accessibility pane, select the Mouse & Trackpad item. You may need to scroll down the list to find it.
  4. Use the slider to adjust the Spring-loaded delay time.
  5. If you wish to disable the Spring-loaded folder feature, you can remove the checkmark next to the slider.

Spring-Loaded Folder Tips

Normally you need to wait for the spring-loading delay time you set. If you're just moving through one folder waiting for the delay is not much of an ordeal. But if you're traversing multiple folders you can speed things up by holding down the space bar 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 really want to copy or move this item to a new location you can cancel out of the spring-loaded move by just backing up to the original location. Move the cursor over the original item location and the move will be canceled.