On windows I can double click a word and then drag the selection, which does a by-the-word selection change. It's a lot easier to select areas of text like this as you don't need to absolutely get your mouse cursor to the start of the word you want, just someone within the word in fine.

How can I replicate this functionality on OSX? Double click and dragging does nothing and I'm getting fed up of having to finely position the mouse cursor to select text.


3 Answers 3


You simply need to hold Shift while selecting to make the selection use complete words.


  • double click a word
  • hold Shift
  • click another word
  • the word you just clicked is included as a whole
  • FYI, if you wanted to select a more random selection, e.g. halfway through one word to halfway through another word, then click once at the start position (appears to do nothing) then follow steps 2–4 as above.
    – user535673
    Nov 16, 2013 at 17:29

Double clicking and dragging to select text works exactly as you want it to on OS X. You have to hold the second click of the double click.

  1. first click: press mouse button down and release
  2. second click: press mouse button down and hold
  3. drag
  • 1
    One caveat: Microsoft Office apps implemented their own funky double-click and text input handling, and so if you try this in Word, OneNote, etc, it doesn't work. I haven't found any gesture that works in Microsoft's products, unfortunately (this annoys me daily in OneNote).[EDIT: Just tried in Word and looks like they fixed this there so double-click+drag selects multiple words. But still isn't fixed in OneNote. Sigh, MS]
    – Tom Dibble
    Jan 3, 2023 at 18:13
  • Yes, it’s doesn’t work in all applications sadly. Especially those who are cross platform are culprits. It depends on the APIs the developers used.
    – orkoden
    Jan 23, 2023 at 20:57

Since Lion (OSX 10.7) you need to enable this in Accessibility Preferences -> Mouse & Trackpad -> Trackpad Options -> Enable dragging.

Using "drag lock" means that you can continue to adjust the drag, finishing it with a single tap. Without drag lock, the drag operation will finish if you stop dragging for a short time.

  • thank you! that's the correct answer.
    – humazed
    Aug 8, 2023 at 10:27

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