I’ve spent a considerable amount of time with both the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro that features standard function keys. The machines share some noteworthy differences, but there are numerous similarities as well.

One unfortunate similarity is the fact that the three-finger drag trackpad gesture doesn’t work like it should. In other words, if you’re having a problem with the three-finger drag gesture on your shiny new MacBook Pro, it’s not just you.

I noted this problem in my original hands-on video with the 13-inch Touch Bar-less MacBook Pro that was posted on November 8th. Here is the paragraph that I wrote about the gesture in my hands-on post:

One last tidbit that is worth mentioning has to do with the trackpad’s three-finger drag gesture. This gesture, which is now relegated to macOS’ accessibility preferences, doesn’t seem to work reliably on my machine. It seems like a software issue, but I can’t say for sure. Here’s hoping that a macOS update is pushed to address this problem if it turns out to be more than just a one-off with my machine.

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I’ve since spent a good amount of time with the Touch Bar version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro, and the results were the same; the three-finger drag gesture only worked some of the time. At other times it just outright refused to work, as if the gesture is disabled. At first I thought it was something I was doing wrong, or maybe something was wonky with the MacBook Pro’s palm rejection. I carefully tested the gesture, ensuring that only my three fingers were touching the machine, and it still failed to work consistently.

As someone who uses the three-finger drag gesture obsessively, this issue was instantly noticeable to me, and I’m not alone. A quick visit over to Apple’s support forums show that this isn’t just a one-off issue, as it seems to be happening to a lot of people who opt to enable the gesture.

According to one poster on Apple’s forums, Apple technicians have acknowledged the issue and suggested that a fix would be required via a future macOS Sierra update.

Users who are new to the Mac probably won’t encounter the bug, as Apple has essentially deprecated the gesture by burying it in the Accessibility settings in System Preferences. Why it made this decision is baffling to me since it’s such a useful gesture.

In fact, the three-finger drag gesture was one of my 10 getting started tips for new macOS users. To enable it, head over to System Preferences → Accessibility → Mouse & TrackPad → Trackpad Options, and click the checkbox next to Enable dragging, and choose three finger drag. It’s an absurd amount of steps for enabling something so useful, but that’s the reality of the situation right now.

Enable Three Finger Drag Trackpad OS X

I’m sure that we’ll see a fix for this issue sooner than later, because us three-finger drag evangelists seem to be quite the vocal group judging from the various comments I’ve seen on Twitter, email, and Apple’s own support forums.

What about you? Do you use three-finger drag? If so, are you having issues with it on your new MacBook Pro?

…And if you haven’t already, be sure to watch our full video hands-on with the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

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About the Author

Jeff Benjamin

Jeff produces videos, walkthroughs, how-tos, written tutorials and reviews. He takes pride in being able to explain things in a simple, clear and concise manner.