Three finger drag gesture via new MacBook Pro’s trackpad acting up for some users

By , Nov 18, 2016

13 inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar iFixit teardown 003

Three finger drag, a productivity-boosting multi-touch trackpad gesture in macOS, isn’t working properly for some owners of Apple’s new MacBook Pro. Both 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pros have larger trackpads than their predecessors, but for many people the gesture doesn’t work at all.

For others, three finger drag works only intermittently or performs erroneously when used in one of the sides of the new MacBook Pro’s Force Touch trackpad.

Three finger drag lets you move any window around: first move the pointer to a window’s title bar, then tap and drag with three fingers on the trackpad simultaneously.

For some owners of the new Pro, it doesn’t work in the upper left side of the trackpad. Others have reported similar hiccups, but along all four edges of the trackpad.

TUTORIAL: how to enable three finger drag gesture on your Mac

To enable the three finger drag gesture on your Mac, go to System Preferences → Accessibility → Mouse & Trackpad → Trackpad Options, then tick the box next to “Enable dragging” and choose “three finger drag” from the popup menu.

Three Finger Drag OS X El Capitan

The 15-inch MacBook Pro has twice the surface area of its predecessor.

It’s almost as large in size as the iPad mini. iFixit’s teardown analysis of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar has revealed that the notebook uses an extra touch controller from Broadcom to handle finger input on that massive glass area.

15 inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar iFixit teardown 003

It’s possible that the reported issues stem from the enlarged trackpads.

Adding a second touch controller to digitize the huge trackpad might be causing issues with interpreting complex gesture like a three finger drag.

Other factors that could be at play here include a bug in macOS, problems with built-in palm rejection and even a hardware failure, to mention but a few.

My money is on palm rejection software issues.

Did you buy the new MacBook Pro?

If so, are yu plagued with these three finger drag issues?

We’d like to know so please share your experience regarding the new MacBook Pro’s trackpad with fellow readers by posting a comment below.

Source: Apple Support Communities, MacRumors

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  • techfreak23

    I still don’t understand why the hell they moved that option to accessibility. Makes no damn sense to have moved it out of the main trackpad settings.

    • Jose Rivera

      I have been wondering the exact same thing since Yosemite I believe. Why did they move a TRACKPAD related item, to Accessibility? It makes no sense what so ever. Just like how for some reason, music is sorted by ARTIST names instead of titles like in all previous versions of music before Apple Music.

      • Impreza

        I would say because all the finger reliated gestures are listed under accessibilty in ios perhaps..

    • Impreza

      I would say because all the finger reliated gestures are listed under accessibilty in ios perhaps.

  • desktop12

    A few points to note:

    1. It’s not merely to move windows around, but to literally click and drag without having to press down on the trackpad

    2. It most likely happens due to incompatibilities with palm rejection that was implemented into the OS for the larger trackpad.

  • MacCvl

    Did you buy the new MacBook Pro?
    Yes, the 15″
    If so, are yu plagued with these three finger drag issues?
    yes
    Works most of the time, but not always.
    Separate Apple Trackpad works ALL the time.

  • jp2002

    I never liked the force touch trackpad. Three finger drag has always been the best. Force touch is just a gimmicky feature imo.

    • Ben

      No it isn’t you just never used it, you got to get used to it and you’ll see how good it is.

      • mrgerbik

        Its gimmicky