How to enable three-finger dragging on Mac OS X El Capitan

Time required for fix: < 2 minutes

This guide will help you enable three finger dragging on OS X El Capitan.

Background: The option to drag using the trackpad in OS X was moved out of the Trackpad section of System Preferences starting in OS X El Capitan for unknown reasons. Our best guess is that it simply wasn’t used enough to warrant a prime spot. Nevertheless, for a select few it’s an absolutely necessary feature. Together with enabling one-tap clicking it’s the perfect remedy for a broken trackpad on your portable Mac, and it’s surprisingly easy to get used to.

With three finger dragging, instead of having to force press and then drag to select something or drag a window, you simply position three fingers on the trackpad and start dragging. It can be especially handy in graphics processing programs such as Sketch, Photoshop, as well as in music production apps like Ableton Live.

How to enable Three Finger Drag on El Capitan

  1. Open System Preferences. (Click the  Apple icon in the top left of your screen and find System Preferences in the drop down.) Accessibility icon in OS X El Capitan's System Preferences
  2. In the matrix of icons, locate Accessibility.
  3. When in Accessibility scroll the left column view and select Mouse & Trackpad (A), then click Trackpad Options… (B).
  4. Next, check the box to Enable dragging (C) and select three finger drag from the dropdown (D).
  5. Confirm with OK.

All done! Enjoy dragging with three fingers on your Mac.

Visual step by step guide to enable three-finger dragging in OS X El Capitan's Accessibility settings

Step by step guide for the Accessibility screen in System Preferences

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