Performing a standard drag and drop motion with a mouse or track pad is not hard to do normally, but if you are recovering from an injury, then some activities or motions may be problematic and painful. With that in mind, today’s SuperUser Q&A post is ready to help a reader in pain.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

SuperUser reader Jason S wants to know how to emulate drag and drop without holding the mouse button down:

I am currently recovering from an upper back injury and finding that the drag and drop mouse action is irritating some of my upper back muscles. Moving the mouse cursor is not a problem, but keeping the button held down while moving it is (in reality, I use a track pad, but it is the same issue).

Is there anything for Windows 7 (like some kind of plugin software, for example) that I could use as an alternative or replacement for drag and drop that would work the same way? In other words, I could do something like Shift+Click and it would make the operating system think that the mouse button is still being held down until I click somewhere else? Like this:

  • Shift+Click initiates “drag mode” (a MouseDown event)
  • Moving the mouse in “drag mode” makes the operating system think the mouse button is still being held down
  • Clicking again while in “drag mode” initiates a release (a MouseUp event)

How do you emulate drag and drop without holding the mouse button down?

The Answer

SuperUser contributors Keltari and hvd have the answer for us. First up, Keltari:

Windows has a ClickLock feature that lets you highlight or drag items without continually holding the mouse button down. Go to the Control Panel, then Mouse Properties. Under the Buttons Tab, select Turn on ClickLock.

Once the feature is enabled, briefly press down and hold the mouse button for the desired items. To release them, briefly press down and hold the mouse button again. You can even change the length of time the button press needs under Settings once the ClickLock feature has been enabled.

Followed by the answer from hvd:

As an alternative to the other answers posted, you can turn on Mouse Keys. Mouse Keys lets you use the numeric keypad to control the mouse pointer and buttons. You can combine this with a real mouse or track pad so that you use the keypad to control the buttons, but a mouse or track pad to control positioning.

Alt+Shift+NumLock will open a dialog box asking if you want to turn on Mouse Keys. Once enabled, the numeric keypad’s / (forward slash) and (dash) keys can be used to switch between the left and right mouse button, or * (star) for both. 0 (zero) will press and hold the mouse button and . (decimal) will release it.

Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Akemi Iwaya
Akemi Iwaya has been part of the How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media team since 2009. She has previously written under the pen name "Asian Angel" and was a Lifehacker intern before joining How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media. She has been quoted as an authoritative source by ZDNet Worldwide.
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