Software

How to restore the three-finger drag gesture in OS X El Capitan

Since upgrading to OS X El Capitan, if you've been looking for the three-finger drag gesture, here's a simple fix for restoring that feature.

Image: Apple

I upgraded to OS X El Capitan on my test machine, and everything was going swimmingly well until I performed a clean install on my trusty MacBook Pro 15" and noticed that the three-finger drag gesture was no longer an option. I didn't realize I relied upon the feature so heavily until it wasn't there, and my productivity was affected.

For several days I only used that computer if it was absolutely required, preferring to use my iPhone 6 Plus whenever possible. I finally found a solution to restore the missing drag and drop gesture that has been built into every Mac and Magic Trackpad for the last few years.

SEE: OS X El Capitan: The smart person's guide

How to restore the three-finger drag gesture

  1. Go to System Preferences | Accessibility (Figure A).
  2. Scroll down to Mouse & Trackpad and click the Trackpad Options button.
  3. Check the box next to Enable Dragging, and then select Three Finger Dragging from the drop-down menu. Click OK (Figure B).

Figure A

elcapitanthreefingerdragfiga.jpg
Image: Jesus Vigo/TechRepublic

Figure B

elcapitanthreefingerdragfigb.jpg
Image: Jesus Vigo/TechRepublic

Viola! Three-finger dragging has now been restored to its full glory.

It turns out Apple did not disable this feature in lieu of the haptic feedback technology that powers the Force Touch trackpads. Force Touch is only found in Apple's latest devices, such as its entire mobile computing family, iPhone 6S/6S Plus, and the Apple Watch. However, even users of Force Touch-capable devices can use this setting change to enable three-finger drag.

Sound off

Do you rely on three-finger drag for productivity, or have you upgraded to Force Touch? Sound off in the comments — we'd love to hear from you!

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About

Jesus Vigo is a Network Administrator by day and owner of Mac|Jesus, LLC, specializing in Mac and Windows integration and providing solutions to small- and medium-size businesses. He brings 15 years of experience and multiple certifications from seve...

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