Universal Control Text Selection with 3 Finger Drag

The Problem: Attempting to select text on the iPad when under Universal Control from the Macbook, using the 3 finger drag (which is my normal gesture for text selection on the Macbook), causes the iPad to BOTH select text and initiate the ‘app switcher’ (normally 4 finger swipe on the iPad).

I’ve enabled Universal Control (new in macOS 12.3 and iPadOS 15.4) for access to my iPad, it connects and transfers the cursor and keyboard focus between the host MacBook and the target iPad as expected.

My normal configuration on the Macbook (16″ Pro 2019) is for

  • 4 finger swipe to switch spaces on the MacBook
  • Accessibility > Pointer Control > Trackpad > Enable Dragging > 3 finger drag enabled.

How to Reproduce: When I move the cursor from Macbook to iPad, and try to select text (eg. from a web page in safari, but affects all apps) using a 3 finger gesture, the text gets highlighted but at the same time the app window starts to shrink and move left/right in the way that it would if app switching was being used on the iPad (normally 4 fingers). Because of the combined movement its hard to select the desired text/item as the app switching behaviour is interferring with the selection behaviour.

I don’t seem to be able to find any combination of options, either on the Macbook or on the iPad with regards to Trackpad gestures that resolves the issue.

Workaround: It is possible to workaround as a force press on the macbook trackpad will allow the selection to be started and moved without activating the app switcher behaviour, but this is sub-optimal as it means I need to use different gestures depending on which device is being used (or adapt from what I’m used too).

1 thought on “Universal Control Text Selection with 3 Finger Drag

  1. A little workaround is that one can tap the text with 2 fingers first (e.g. middle and ring fingers) then use the 3rd finger (e.g. index finger) to drag/select the text without lifting off the first 2 fingers. It works in both Mac and iPad. Could be a bit clumsy at first 🙂

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