can't drag and drop

I am trying to do simple cutting and pasting within a document, and for some reason I can’t drag and drop. I highlight the phrase, but as soon I try to drag it, the highlighting disappears. Is there a preference I am missing?

thanks for any help,


The text engine is a modified version of the basic Mac text engine, there are no preferences for this kind of behaviour (they would be in System Preferences if there were) and no way for us to change it. Something that might be happening: people coming from Word and perhaps a few other non-Mac programs of that nature are accustomed to dragging immediately upon clicking in a selection. That’s not how the Mac text engine works, you have to pause for a second before you start dragging. If you don’t pause you start a new selection.

hi, thanks for the response, but I’m not coming from either Word or a Windows environment. Out of curiosity, I just opened up a document in Pages. Drag and drop works fine.

I would give TextEdit a try. Apple doesn’t use the basic text engine for Pages, it is something more akin to what they made for the iPad, as I understand it. If the same problem exists in TextEdit you know it’s some Mac level thing. If the behaviour only appears in Scrivener, then I’d try some simple troubleshooting steps first: reboot if you haven’t recently, and if that doesn’t work, try reinstalling the software. There aren’t any known conflicts that cause that, that I’m aware of.

I’m also seeing an intermittent bug on drag-and-drop that cropped up with 10.11.3 and is still there with 10.11.4. A system reboot always brings it back, along with auto-conversion of two hyphens to an em dash and the auto-smartening of quotation marks (sometimes the spelling and/or popup Dictionary also refuses to work).

I just tried a new Text Edit document with a copy of a Scrivener file, and drag-and-drop works fine. Same with Apple Mail. So it seems to be Scrivener-specific. It’s annoying, but certainly survivable with a restart.


If you want to drag text immediately without any delay or faffing, select the text you want, hold down the CMD key, and drag to the new location.

Hold down the ALT (OPTION) key if you want to copy rather than move.


Briar Kit

It’s not a procedural error. It’s a bug, as I detailed above, and it appears to affect only Scrivener. The same text copied into Text Edit drags and drops normally. But several times a week, since the 10.11.3 update, Scrivener refuses to drag & drop, the spell-checker/dictionary picker doesn’t work, and em dashes and smart quotes don’t auto-correct as I type (they convert manually, through the Format menu). A system restart corrects it every time. I’m not seeing this behavior in Text Edit or Mail, which I believe use the same text engine.


Indeed. Wasn’t suggesting it was a procedural error and wasn’t doubting you in any way. If I slipped on the bridge that stretches over The Pond, I certainly didn’t mean to.

In TextEdit, Mail, or Scrivener, I have always experienced the need to wait a split second after selecting text before dragging it to a new position … without waiting, the selection gets reshaped by the next cursor movement.

Years ago (first Mac in 2008), I was told that the split second wait could be avoided by using the CMD key to lock the selection in place, ready to be moved. It’s always worked for me in all OS versions and apps. Don’t like waiting the split second for the selection to be recognised automatically, irrespective of how short the wait is.

Was just trying to offer the OP a way to drag text quickly if their usual method isn’t working as expected. Using 10.11.4 on my Mac, dragging is the same in TextEdit, Mail, and Scrivener … a split second too long for my liking. Completely accept that other people are experiencing performance differences between apps.

I haven’t experienced any of the other issues you mentioned (so far). Would really rankle if the dictionary picker (three-finger tap, yes?) didn’t work. Wonder if that is down to the number and / or different dictionaries being loaded? As you can see, I don’t load many…



Briar Kit

I doubt it has anything to do with the number or order of dictionary’s loaded or not loaded. If it did, everything wouldn’t return to normal after a system restart, from the dictionaries to spell-check to auto-em dashes to drag and drop. All those go down at once, and only a reset fixes it. Something nasty crept in during the 10.11.3 update, I suspect.

Reboot worked for me too, In fact i think its a windows problem. If you leave your PC on when you go to lunch sometimes things will not work as expected when you return. I’ve had this problem for yonks with many apps/programs despite having turned off all forms of hibernation and screen time outs.

This is on a Mac thread, so likely not a Windows problem. In general, though, if you can’t leave your Windows PC when you go to lunch and have it be stable when you get back, that points to actively running software on the machine being a problem, not a problem with Windows. (In corporate environments, it’s usually the excess of “helper” software they commonly deploy.)