Windows 10 is a drag!
August 31, 2017 12:05 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way to drag in Windows? I've used Apple laptops for years and I've grown very accustomed to performing the click-and-hold necessary to drag something a particular way. But I've recently used a range of Windows laptops and find my style of click-and-hold leads to problems on all of them. Longtime Windows users, how do you do it?

On a MacBook, I click-and-drag by pressing and holding the trackpad with the *side* of my right thumb, while my right index finger moves the cursor (example here). The problem is that when I do this on various Windows laptops (recent models from Dell, Lenovo, and Microsoft) the cursor often gets stuck and stutters as I try to drag. This isn't a problem if I use the *tip* of my right thumb instead (example here), but that position is unnatural and uncomfortable. It's also not a problem if I only use my index finger to both click-and-hold and move the cursor (example here, but limits how far I can drag because I can't lift my index finger off the trackpad), or if I use my left index finger to move the cursor and my right index finger to click-and-hold (which requires two hands, couldn't take a picture of this).

I suspect it's because my thumb resting flat against the pad is read as multiple points of contact rather than a single finger and Windows doesn't know what to do with that. I'd like to know if anyone else has this problem? I'd also like to hear how all of you perform this gesture. If there's a better way, then I'm open to change!
posted by pantheON to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Personally? I use a mouse. Or maybe a trackpoint, if I'm lucky enough to be on a laptop that has one. Maybe it's just that I've never been a Mac person, but my experience has uniformly been that all trackpads are terrible and don't work right. It's possible that you're just interacting with much worse trackpads than you're used to. Mac users do seem to love their trackpads.

Seriously though, I won't use a laptop with only a trackpad for more than a few minutes. Maybe I'm just a curmudgeon (that was my working assumption up til now) but maybe it's that PC laptops all have shitty trackpads for some reason. Wouldn't surprise me, they certainly all have shitty keyboards.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:14 PM on August 31, 2017

Both of my trackpads have buttons that function just like the left and right mouse buttons. I hold the left one down with my left hand and use my right pointer finger to move the cursor. I use a mouse, but if forced to use the trackpad, I ignore all of the scrolling edge stuff and just use the buttons + one finger.
posted by soelo at 12:20 PM on August 31, 2017

I just checked and, with my right hand, I click the "mouse" button with my index finger and I drag around the track pad with my ring finger. No finger gets in the other finger's way and the ring finger can move the entire length of the track pad with no problem. I don't use my thumb at all when I use a track pad and it feels weird/difficult if I try. If I had a less responsive track pad, I would press the mouse button with my left index finger and drag with my right index finger.
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:29 PM on August 31, 2017

Quite often the trackpad software has options to customize gestures and adjust the sensitivity. It will be in the Mouse Properties menu under Settings, devices, Mouse, Advanced Mouse Options. My crappy Lenovo has a Synaptics Touch Pad that has something called click-lock. I have mouse buttons under the trackpad. A previous Lenovo had a trackpad that could be pushed to click, which was handy. I hold the left button to drag, and I see that I use the side of my thumb.
posted by theora55 at 1:23 PM on August 31, 2017

I use keyboard shortcuts instead of clicking and dragging. This is faster and more reliable for me, and doing anything more than simple clicking on a trackpad is kind of nightmarish.
posted by cnc at 1:41 PM on August 31, 2017

IMO dragging and dropping on Windows is dangerous, and I tell people to avoid it. Use right-click context menus, shift-click, ctrl-click ...
posted by intermod at 2:01 PM on August 31, 2017

Now that you mention it, this is literally the one thing that still bugs me about Windows. I used trackpad only on my ancient MacBook Pro for years, and it was awesome. Can't use a trackpad anymore. Switched to a mouse + key commands. Once you get used to it, it's not bad. I use this wireless mouse, and it's awesome.
posted by nosila at 2:36 PM on August 31, 2017

Long-time Windows guy, recent convert to Mac: Only Apple makes good trackpads. All other trackpads are terrible garbage to be avoided whenever possible.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:55 PM on August 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

I usually use tap, not click on my trackpad, so I do the double-tap-and-hold thing with my index finger and then scroll around with my middle finger. I find this better than the click-and-hold because I don't have to apply pressure with the index finger, so I have better control over the middle finger.

I tried your side-of-thumb technique, and it works fine on my super budget Windows 10 laptop, either click-and-hold or double-tap-and-hold. It's actually super convenient, and I think I will start using it. Thanks for the tip!
posted by Rock Steady at 7:39 PM on August 31, 2017

It's also been my experience that Apple trackpads are (barely) tolerable while every non-Apple trackpad I've ever put my hands on has been essentially rubbish.
posted by flabdablet at 8:57 PM on August 31, 2017

On my Surface Book, I can drag items by clicking and holding on an item and then moving that same finger around, without requiring a second finger; I suspect that the gesture is supported on any laptop with newer touchpad that supports the Precision Touchpad API. You might try doing the same.
posted by Aleyn at 9:05 PM on August 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

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