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Now on OS X, when I want to select some text, I have to press the "hard" key on touchpad with thumb and drag through the text with another finger on touchpad. With linux on the same macbook pro, I could quickly touch the touchpad twice and start selection/dragging behavior without pressing the "hard" key on touchpad with single finger. I feel the way in linux is much easier for fingers and quicker. Is it possible to configure OS X touchpad behave in the same way?

3

The nearest thing available is the "Three finger drag" option in System prefs -- under trackpad you'll find the option to use it:

Trackpad prefs

This lets you drag by hold three fingers on the trackpad and dragging..

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  • Is there any other way around without using three fingers? it is hard to select longer texts.
    – Mr_Green
    Aug 14 '15 at 18:22
31

The settings location where the three finger "drag" is enabled has changed over time.

From OS X 10.11 "El Capitan" to macOS 10.14 "Mojave":

  1. Go to System Preferences > Accessibility
  2. Choose Mouse & Trackpad from the left options list
  3. Click Trackpad Options
  4. Tick "Enable dragging" and select “three finger drag” from the drop-down menu next to it

For macOS 10.15 "Catalina" and later:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Accessibility
  2. Choose Pointer Control
  3. On the Mouse & Trackpad tab, click Trackpad Options
  4. Tick "Enable dragging" and select “three finger drag” from the drop-down menu next to it
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  • 6
    In macOS Catalina it's under Accessibility > Pointer Control > Mouse & Trackpad > Trackpad Option Oct 26 '19 at 20:07
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Had this issue with new Macbook Air (latest one late 2015) and old trackpad that suddenly required a hard click and drag, simultaneously, to copy large amounts. Found that above directions with modest variation works perfectly as:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Accessibility
  2. Choose Mouse & Trackpad from the left options list
  3. Click Trackpad Options Step #4 also works as:
  4. Tick "enable dragging" and select "without drag lock" from the drop-down menu next to it

This was how my trackpad always worked before I migrated to the new computer, and it is easier on fingers. 1 finger, no hard pressure.

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    as for me, the most useful answer, just I needed "with drag lock" option :) It's especially useful for screenshots (when you need to select some region on the screen with touchpad) And of course, I set tap instead of hard click in System Preferences > Trackpad
    – hooke
    Jul 25 '18 at 16:04
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Go to system preferences > Trackpad Trackpad > Point and Click Tap Point and Click > Check "Tap to Click"

This will give you the behavior your want.

The are two methods for selecting text with tap to click enabled; the first is simplest to setup by just checking tap to click as outlined above; the second is my favorite setup but requires one more tweak in system preferences; the second will likely be your favorite too because you don't need to complete the selection in a single slide)

  1. To select text (with drag-lock set to OFF in accessibility - the default): Tap & Slide (Finger Contact, Finger Lift, Finger Contact, Finger Slide, Finger Lift (The selection extent is finalized with the finger lift)

  2. To select text (with drag-lock set to ON in accessibility): Tap & Slide & Tap (Finger Contact, Finger Lift, Finger Contact, Finger Slide, Finger Lift, Finger Contact, Finger Lift (The selection extent can be adjusted with multiple finger slides; the selected extent is finalized with the final finger tap)

To turn on Drag-Lock for the Trackpad: Go to system preferences > Accessibility Accessibility > Mouse & Trackpad Mouse & Trackpad > Trackpad Options Trackpad Options > Select "Enable Dragging"; Select "with Drag-Lock"

Cheers!

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  • Selection with drag lock was what i was looking for, thanks for detailed explanation. Jun 15 '18 at 9:53
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the way to do it in high sierra is to go to accessibility options, and then enable dragging and select the three finger drag as shown here.

Also note I had changed the app expose to 4 fingers from trackpad settings.

enter image description here

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Serge Voloshenko's comment to a different answer is what worked for me finally:

In macOS Catalina it's under Accessibility > Pointer Control > Mouse & Trackpad > Trackpad Option

I prefer the dragging with drag lock option, but there's the three finger drag too:

enter image description here

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