I'm using Mail in Lion in three-pane full screen mode. Let's say I put my pointer over a message in the middle pane. I push the touchpad with my thumb to click and hold, and start to move the pointer with my index finger in the direction of the new folder where I want to file the message. Mail does one of two things:

  1. Begin to highlight a range of messages, or
  2. Begin to move the selected message to another folder.

I can never tell which one I'm going to get. I almost always want (2), but maddeningly often I get (1). What am I doing to cause the ambiguity? How do I clearly signal my intent to the UI?


Selecting happens when you start dragging in the empty part of a line and have a major vertical movement. You can prevent message moving from happening by immediately starting to drag across after clicking.

Moving happens when you start in the text part of a line. Moving is also easier invoked when your major movement is in the horizontal axis. If you click and hold on a spot for a moment and then start dragging message moving will be invoked.


One trick I use is to click and drag to the right - over the viewing pane - and on to the target folder. This always results in the move rather than the select option.


You should see an icon of a small envelope appear under the pointer when you hold your thumb down (and the icon changes to include a count when more than one message – or a conversation – is selected). Once that is there, and ensuring that your thumb remains held down, the drag with your index finger should be unambiguous.


right area to drag message, everywhere else to select messages. see here

EDIT: sorry for the NSFW link. I moved from droolr to cloud app and my previous references are broken now (yes, I use a custom domain)

correct link http://sldn.info/9t7P

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