How to Drag and Drop on Mac

Use a mouse or trackpad to grab and move text, files, and apps

What to Know

  • Click to select or click and drag to highlight items > hold and drag the mouse or trackpad > release the mouse or trackpad to move selection. 
  • Use primary click on a mouse or click and hold on a trackpad to select and drag objects.
  • You can drag and drop text, images, apps, files, and folders.

This article explains how to drag and drop on Mac. Use an external mouse or the onboard trackpad to relocate items on your computer or capture text and images. Instructions in this article apply to macOS Mojave (10.14) and later.

How Do You Click and Drag on a MacBook?

You have two options for clicking and dragging on a MacBook: use the trackpad or wired or a wireless mouse. The process for either option is similar and follows these steps.

  1. Click or tap to click and highlight the item you want to move.

    A file highlighted from a folder on a MacBook.
  2. Press and hold the trackpad or mouse while dragging the object.

    A selected file from a folder in motion to a new location on a MacBook.
  3. When you’re ready to reposition the highlighted item, release the trackpad or mouse to drop it in the new place.

    An image file selected from a folder and dropped into a document on a MacBook.
  4. Select text or images and drag them onto your desktop to create text clippings or save images.

    A text clipping on a Mac desktop created from highlighted text.
  5. To move items in the Dock, click and drag the apps to your preferred arrangement.

    Using drag and drop to arrange apps in the Dock on a Mac.

    To move a recently used app to the Dock, click the app and drag it into position.

  6. Add a folder to Favorites in the Finder app by selecting and dragging the item. To add an app, press Command.

    Dragging and dropping a folder in the Finder sidebar Favorites section on a Mac.
  7. Remove items from Favorites in Finder or the Dock by selecting and dragging them away from the area.

    Removing a folder from Finder Favorites using drag and drop on a Mac.

How Do I Drag and Drop With Touchpad?

Click and hold to drag and move items with the trackpad on your Mac.

To enable three-finger dragging, go to Settings > Accessibility > Pointer control > Mouse & Trackpad > Trackpad Options > Enable dragging > select three finger drag > OK.

Turning on three finger dragging on the trackpad from Accessibility settings on a Mac.
  1. Select a single item or click, hold, and drag your finger across the touchpad to highlight text or multiple files.

    Hold Shift for side-by-side files or Command for non-sequential files while using the trackpad to highlight all the things you want to move.

    Multiple files selected from a folder on a Mac.
  2. Press and hold the touchpad and begin to move the highlighted selection.

    To copy files to a different folder rather than relocating them, press Option while highlighting and dragging and dropping them.

  3. Release the trackpad to drop the items in a new location.

    Newly located files using drag and drop between folders on a Mac.

How Do You Drag and Drop on a Mac Without Trackpad?

You don’t need to use a trackpad to drag and drop on your Mac. Use the left-click or primary click on your Mac to highlight and move files on your device.

  1. If you haven’t already, connect a Bluetooth or wired mouse with your Mac.

  2. To move a single image or block of text, click to select it or click and move the mouse to highlight the object.

    A file selected and highlighted using a mouse on a Mac.
  3. To move multiple items, press Shift and click nearby files. Alternatively, click and drag your mouse around the items you want to move to highlight them. 

    Multiple files highlighted on a Mac by clicking and dragging around the selection.

    Select files that aren’t close to each other by pressing and holding Command while clicking objects individually.

  4. Hold and drag your mouse to the new destination. Let go to move the highlighted selection to the new folder or position.

    Multiple files relocated from one folder to another using drag and drop on a Mac.

    If you have trouble dragging a highlighted selection, ensure you press the mouse the entire time without lifting your finger. 

FAQ
  • How do I drag and drop on Mac using drag lock?

    To turn on drag lock, go to System Preferences > Accessibility > Pointer Control > Mouse & Trackpad. Then go to Trackpad Options > select the box beside Enable Dragging > and choose with drag lock from the drop-down menu.

  • How do I drag and drop an alias on Mac?

    After creating Mac desktop shortcuts, you can click and select the items and drag them to a different folder location or the Dock. To remove an alias from the Dock, drag the alias until a Remove message appears. You can find the location for the original item from the Dock by control-clicking the alias and selecting Options > Show in Finder.

  • How do I drag and drop photos on Mac into Google Photos?

    To select multiple files on your Mac to upload to Google Photos, open the photo folder and press Command while clicking the photos you want to add. If you want to upload all the images in one folder, press Command+A and drag and drop the selection into the Google Photos app.

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