Drag-and-drop

Updated: 08/16/2021 by Computer Hope

The phrase drag-and-drop describes the action of selecting an object or section of text, moving it (dragging), and then placing it (dropping) in an alternate area. For example, to drag-and-drop an object, such as an icon, you first move your mouse cursor over it. Then, press and hold down the left mouse button, move the object to the location you desire, and release the mouse button to set it down.

Note

Dragging and dropping an object or file moves it to the new location; it does not make a copy.

How to drag-and-drop on a desktop or laptop

In the image below, you can see the three-step process used to highlight, drag, and then drop files to another location.

Drag-and-drop move

Tip

Holding down the Ctrl key while dragging and dropping text or another object copies the object or text.

Tip

In Microsoft Windows, if you drag-and-drop with the right mouse button rather than the left mouse button, you're prompted with a menu. This menu gives you options to "copy here," "move here," or "create a shortcut here."

How to drag-and-drop on a tablet or smartphone

Locate the app, file, or folder you want to move. Press and hold your finger on the object. Slide your finger across the screen until you have the object where you want to place it, then lift your finger.

What is drag-and-drop editing?

Drag-and-drop editing describes any editing performed by dragging an image, text, or object from one place to another. For example, to move text from one place to another in a document, you could select the text and then click-and-drag that text to another location.

Tip

If you hold down Ctrl while dragging and dropping the text, it's copied (duplicated) instead of moved.

How to scroll while drag-and-drop editing?

If where you want to drag the text is not visible, while dragging the text, move to the window edge in the direction you want to scroll. For example, to drag text from the top to the bottom of a document, follow the steps below.

  1. Highlight the text you want to move.
  2. Click-and-drag the highlighted text to the bottom of the window or document area.
  3. When near the bottom edge, the program begins to scroll down. Continue to hold the button until you get to where you want to move the text, and then let go of the mouse button.
Tip

The above steps would work for any direction that you can scroll. For example, if you could scroll up, you could click-and-drag text near the top of the window or document area.

Tip

If lots of scrolling is needed to get to where you want to move text, it's easier to cut and paste instead of dragging-and-dropping.

Click, Mouse pointer, Mouse terms