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I recently did a fresh install of 10.8. Prior to this install, I could rapidly tap twice on my touchpad and, on the second tap, drag the pointer to highlight text. Now, with this new install, that feature is missing. I tried looking in the trackpad settings but couldn't find anything to re-enable this feature.

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    What I think is even better is the option Three Finger Drag in System Preferences->Trackpad. This way you can highlight text without delay. If you need to highlight lots of text, you can release one of the three fingers and continue to move the cursor down with that finger.
    – gentmatt
    Sep 20, 2012 at 16:30
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    @gentmatt You should make that an answer. It's clearly the best option.
    – Cajunluke
    Sep 20, 2012 at 16:38
  • @gentmatt I personaly find that the three finger drag is unusable compared to OP's question. Jan 8, 2015 at 12:51

3 Answers 3

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Here is the answer to your question:

  1. Go to System Preferences
  2. Select Accessibility
  3. Go to Pointer Control in Motor Section
  4. Select Mouse & Trackpad
  5. Select Trackpad Options
  6. Select Enable dragging withoug Drag Lock
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  • While trying to figure this out I unselected tap to click in trackpad settings which disabled your 5th step. I use accessibility daily and never enabled the accessibility option, till messing with the trackpad options. odd
    – rclyde
    Jan 16, 2013 at 21:38
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I have searched all locations which come to mind for enabling such a setting, but without success:

  • System Preferences → Trackpad
  • System Preferences → Accessibility → Keyboard
  • System Preferences → Keyboard

Therefore, I suggest the following alternative:
System Preferences→Trackpad→Point & Click→Three Finger Drag

This way you can highlight text without delay by using three finger touch. If you need to highlight lots of text, you can release one of the three fingers and continue to move the cursor down with that finger.

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  • It's nice that there's an alternative but I'm really looking to enable my existing behavior since it's instinctive and I'm annoyed every time it doesn't work.
    – Shalmanese
    Sep 21, 2012 at 0:02
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I was annoyed myself, and found out the answer in the end:

  1. System Preferences > Universal Access > Mouse and Trackpad > Trackpad Options
  2. Click the check box that says "Dragging" and you should be all set.

enter image description here

For more details see this CNET article.

By the way, the exact method to perform this action has changed slightly with Mountain Lion.

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  • Just did this on 10.9. Dialog looks different of course but works just fine. Aug 13, 2014 at 22:17

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