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Is there ANY way -- either from Apple or via third party utility software -- to enable the built-in TrackPad on a MacBook Pro laptop to do a real "right-click drag" function?

Note I'm asking for right-dragging NOT "right clicking" -- this is where, under Windows, you click the right mouse button while pointing at something, HOLD DOWN the right mouse button and DRAG the object somewhere, THEN let the right mouse button go, and usually a menu pops up at that point, to allow you to choose what you want to do with the thing you're dragging (a file or icon or whatever).

This function, right-click dragging, is actually quite useful and a real time-saver that my fingers muscle-memory is pretty much coded to do A LOT, while I'm working in several different software products under Windows.

Moving to a MacBook (with Windows running in emulation, via VirtualBox) has a lot of great benefits for me, BUT having to give up right-dragging is kind of almost turning into a total deal-breaker for this effort, to move to a MacBook.

Also I know I could just plug in a mouse, but really would prefer to get this working with the great Apple TrackPad IF at all possible!! The trackpad is an amazing piece of tech and I cannot believe that I'm really the first person to notice this HUGE oversight of the missing right-drag functionality.

I'd have thought this would have been fixed already AGES ago, what with Apple's otherwise stellar support of Windows on Mac hardware.

There HAS to be a solution for this...

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UPDATE - EDIT

Hi guys, thanks for comments. I realize it's not "Mac Like" to do this, but I don't want it for OSX, I only want it to work for WINDOWS. (Shouldn't Windows running on Mac still work in a "Windows-Like" way, IF Apple's goal is to really fully support running Windows on Apple hardware?)

My goal is to have both OS running side by side (not via Boot Camp, I want the Win setup to be virtualized and keep it a finger flick away, on it's own Spaces desktop) so that I can keep using all my old Win software while moving into the Mac world in the future. Best of both worlds... in theory.

I've already enabled lower-right TrackPad corner click as right-click, but it doesn't work for this right-click-dragging. Any clicking automatically finishes when you click, it doesn't appear to support HOLDING DOWN the click, so you cannot DRAG before letting the right-click back UP again.

Again, this all DOES apparently work fine IF you have an external, two-button mouse connected. So it shouldn't really be impossible, it just needs the software to better understand what's being done with the TrackPad!

I'd be happy even if some alternative "gesture" could be defined for this, on the Mac's TrackPad. I've looked at a couple apps so far (Better Touch Tool, etc) but nothing yet seems to work. Seems like the issue (as noted above) must be something to do with software understanding of the "holding down" of the right-click.

Also does anyone know if maybe this has been solved in either of the commercial VM programs (Parallels or VMware)? Rather than using the free VirtualBox, I'd be willing to buy something to get this functionality working correctly on Windows the way I want it to work...

  • 1
    The fact that it works with a mouse shows IMO that Apple does support a full Windows-like experience in Windows. The trackpad, however, is highly unique for a trackpad, and I think Apple has simply taken it another direction. I am a System Admin for mostly Windows workstations and have never used this functionality you speak of. However, this doesn't make it any less painful for you. – bispymusic Mar 18 '13 at 20:08
  • I should also add that VMware Fusion and Parallels both have 30-day trials available for download to test this. Parallels should natively import your VBox image. VMware can open it after it's been converted through a simple command line utility: wherethebitsroam.com/blogs/jeffw/… – bispymusic Mar 18 '13 at 20:10
  • Should be noted also that right-dragging is a common thing in games (usually camera movement), so some ability to mimic it is a must for playing certain games on a Macbook. It would be enough to hold some other button + 3 finger drag etc. – Amir Abiri Sep 29 '17 at 7:11
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You can do this on the Macbook Pro trackpad by pressing down with two fingers hard enough to engage the mechanical "mouse" button built in to the trackpad. Drag your item(s) to the desired destination and then release the pressure off the button and... voila! Windows will display the right drag menu at that point.

Unfortunately this doesn't allow "locked drags" where you can continue dragging long distances by picking your fingers up off the trackpad surface and quickly repositioning them to continue the drag.

  • Works for me. I've tested this on a mac connecting to a windows 7 machine via Citrix. I have a 2015 Macbook (12") and it works on the force touch trackpad. Only pressing to the first level of force with two fingers is necessary and then it's possible to drag. My test was using Tableau where right click and drag on a dimension is a useful shortcut. – Bobby Apr 21 at 10:20
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Since right-click in Mac OS X trackpad is done through two-fingers clicking, what you're asking is pretty non-Macish. On OS X, if you two-fingers click and drag, only the first two-fingers click is perceived by the OS, which pops up the option menu instantaneously.

There seem to be nothing also in VirtualBox preferences. VirtualBox (as well as other similar software - Parallels) treat the trackpad in an OS X way: for example, in a virtualized Linux I scroll down a page using the classic Mac two-fingers scroll; this is done in order to standardize the behavior of your trackpad.

If you're fond of Windows, give a chance to Bootcamp and see if in a native environment you can find a proper solution.

  • Agreed, this is a difference in core functionality of the Mac v. Win platforms. Macs are highly productive, but don't work with right-click menus in this way. One suggestion: Try mapping the bottom-right corner of the trackpad as the right-click in System Preferences, and see if that enables the behavior you'd like in your VM. – bispymusic Mar 18 '13 at 14:22
  • Try to play a little with BetterTouchTool and see if it fits your needs. – whatyouhide Mar 18 '13 at 18:39
  • Tried already with BTT and no go. See edit above re: this seems to hinge on software understanding of the "hold down right click" action. – JohnC Mar 18 '13 at 18:45
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Try touching 3 fingers down, keep one down, let up the second, and drag with the third.

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As far as I can tell this is definitely a possibility if you were to use Windows via Boot Camp, as you have an option in the settings of its control panel.

As you want to achieve this via virtualisation software and I cannot guarantee but take a look at Synaptics Gesture Suite™ Windows 8 for TouchPad™

http://www.synaptics.com/solutions/technology/windows8

It may or may not prove fruitful.

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I need to right drag to orbit the view in my Windows-only 3D modeling software. The following solution worked for me.

Remap the Right Command Key to Right Click on a MacBook Pro

Granted it is not a trackpad-only solution, but it feels pretty natural.

Hint: if you don't want to log in to WikiHow, Google the above link text and use the arrow under the link to pull up Google's cached version.

  • Could you include the steps you need to take to Remap the Right Command Key to Right Click on a MacBook Pro. Links stop working and content disappears from the web. So better include the steps here. – pjc90 Aug 13 '17 at 20:55

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