Newbie frustration - dragging multiple items

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by jasimon9, May 27, 2009.

  1. jasimon9 macrumors regular

    Mar 11, 2009
    As a newbie to the Mac but with Windows experience since 1990, I am finding the most subtle things the hardest to get used to. This post is about dragging items.

    1. The first thing I am still getting used to in dragging a single item: in Windows a highlighted item can be immediately "clicked and dragged." In OS X, it appears that very often you cannot drag an item unless you pause for a fraction of a second while on the item. However, the "fraction" seems to vary, sometimes being very short, and otherwise being longer. The result is I have to frequently try several times to get the object to drag.

    2. Even worse, when multiple items are selected, it seems that sometimes they cannot be dragged no matter how long I pause. The action of attempting to drag simply un-highlights the items.

    While I am typing this comment, I am trying to drag items in Mail. I have multiple items selected, and most of the time, anything I do to try to drag them fails, but simply reverses the selection on some items. On a rare occasion, the drag function works. It seems sometimes if I start the drag slowly, it works.

    I am still assuming that this failure is due to my lack of skills. But my instinct is to consider this a bug.

    What is the correct way to drag multiply selected items reliably?
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    I've used Macs for years and have never had trouble selecting/dragging anything, even with a trackpad. Just click and hold with the mouse button / trackpad button and drag...
  3. Insulin Junkie macrumors 65816

    Insulin Junkie

    May 5, 2008
    Mainland Europe
    As far as I know there is no 'correct way to drag'. I'm not denying you have problems, though I've never experienced any problems dragging items. What's nifty is that you can drag an item onto an application icon, and the item will get opened with that application :)

    I don't know what to tell you, since I don't experience any 'drag lag' before I can drag an item. Just make sure your finger is pressing down firmly on the mouse button when dragging. If you find dragging slow, increase the speed of the mouse in system preferences.
  4. yellow Moderator emeritus


    Oct 21, 2003
    Portland, OR
    The problem is most likely not with the time frame, but with what you're selecting to drag. Windows is much more forgiving about what portion of an icon or text that you can click and drag on. Try limiting yourself to only click & drag on the icon of the object and see if you get better results.

    Alternately, if you have an old, underpowered Mac with not enough RAM and too new an OS, you may see the problem you're describing particularly in applications other than the Finder.

    Give us some specs.
  5. MacBoobsPro macrumors 603


    Jan 10, 2006
    You dont have to select them all individually first. Just draw a box around the ones you want to select then drag one of the files and the others will follow.

    Theres no need to pause either its instant to select and drag. Infact reading your post I tried it out and in doing so did the move so fast I didnt see where the file went. :D
  6. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    I've found that when dragging multiple items it works best to grab one of the file's icons, not the file name, and it will work just fine.
  7. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Actually, I have some sympathy for the OP. I've been using Macs for a few years now, and still - occasionally - find dragging to be a challenge. All of the advice above is good. Pay attention to whether you are "dragging" the name, or the icon. In my experience, you do need to pause. But, its not between highlighting and dragging - its between clicking, then dragging. If you start moving the cursor too soon after clicking then you select a bunch of names in a folder, or in text in a document in some applications. You have to click - hold - then drag.

    Good Luck
  8. jasimon9 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 11, 2009
    Well then it sounds that it is not my lack of skill but something buggy.

    FWIW, in XP in a VM, all the normal "immediate dragging" and whatnot works as they have for nearly 20 years. But in OS X, this dragging weirdness persists.
  9. jasimon9 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 11, 2009
    I am using the same mouse in OS X and in XP in a VM. There is a definite difference in the subtleties of behavior.
  10. jasimon9 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 11, 2009
    24 iMac 2.8. Has plenty horsepower.

    I almost never use icons, but lists. In particular, the problem I am having is in mail, where I am trying to move items between folders.

    There is no trouble selecting items via either CMD-A, Shift and click, or CMD and click. But when I try to drag, more often than not, items are unhighlighted.

    I thought there was a "time delay" factor, or a "stillness factor", but so far I don't really know the pattern.

    Again, it would be easy to say I am doing something mechanically wrong with the way I am manipulating the mouse -- however, Windows in the VM works as expected regarding dragging.
  11. jasimon9 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 11, 2009
    Exactly what I meant by "pause" -- click, pause a bit, drag.

    This however, sometimes does not work. You can pause for 10 seconds, and still the drag does not work.
  12. jasimon9 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 11, 2009
    The problem is in dragging items in mail between folders. There are no icons in this situation. I don't know that I even have the problem with icons.

    I usually just give up and use the context menu when dragging will not work.
  13. jasimon9 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 11, 2009
    Further information - suspect bug in Mail

    Since I had only been having this problem in Mail, I decided to check on simple Finder maneuvers. It turns out that dragging is instantaneous and as expected.

    So I am now changing the issue from "dragging multiple items" to "dragging multiple items in Mail".

    And also I am suggesting that this "feature" of the Mail program being unwilling to drag is a bug.

    I even have a theory: when you successfully drag items in Mail, as soon as you start dragging, a red circle with the number of items appears. I am guessing that the "failure to drag" has something to do with the implementation of this "drag indicator."

    So if you want to check out what I am saying, and either corroborate or refute, go into Mail, highlight several items, and try to drag them. I seem to find somewhat less than 50% reliability in being able to get the drag to work in this context.

    I am also going to search a bit to see if this is a known problem.
  14. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    I won't claim that this is a "good" feature, but I think it is a feature, not a bug. Due to your own post I've been playing with Mail. And, as I said above, I have some sympathy for you since I've also had issues. Probably just in Mail, too.

    After playing with Mail a little bit I think I've figured it out. There is a bit of time delay thing, but the big factor.... ? Which direction do you drag? If I drag up and down, I end up highlighting all the mails that I drag over. Or, if I have already selected some mails, the ones I drag away from get unselected and the ones I drag over get selected.

    If I drag sideways the the emails move with the cursor. Try this and see if your experience is the same as mine.

    I had never experimented with this before, it always works eventually so I never spent the time.

    Good Luck
  15. jman240 macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2009
    Out of curiosity, how is your mail getting to mail? Meaning what protocol are you using to import mail? POP, IMAP, MobileME (exchange)? This may have something to do with it. I've seen a bit of lag with IMAP in mail since I don't think mail downloads the entire message contents up front and rather gets just the headers. This may be relate or it may not. Just trying to help.
  16. jasimon9 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 11, 2009
    You have made a brilliant observation! My results agree with yours -- in Mail, dragging up or down fails miserably; sideways works! And works without regard to any delay. That is, you can drag sideways immediately.

    However, don't you find this the oddest thing? How could they have designed it in such a way? Why would they have designed it that way, to be different from other areas in most GUIs that I have heard of -- that is dragging being "direction sensitive." (In thinking about it, the only thing I can think of similar is the "stroking gesture" in Photoshop.)

    How odd is this?

    I went into Finder just to be sure, and dragging in any direction has the effect of "picking the items up" and indicating by showing a "ghost" image.

    Again, is this unusual requirement of "drag sideways only" documented anywhere?
  17. jasimon9 thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 11, 2009
    You could be on to something, as I am using IMAP.

    However, see the previous post, which probably makes the IMAP issue moot.
  18. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Glad to hear I'm not imagining things....
    If its a "feature" then the only logic is that this makes it easy to select a bunch of emails in a row, so you can then drag sideways to move them.... ??
    If it was documented, then we probably would have heard from a few people already telling us to RTFM :D .

    Nice to know this is sorted out....

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