Mac Option Key tip #6: Option-Drag

The Option Key Tip-a-Palooza continues with one of the handiest tips ever, namely the Option-drag technique. Basically, it comes down to this: when you drag things around they move, right? Right. At least that’s how it usually works. But, if you hold the Option key when you drag stuff you’ll make copies while leaving the original in place.

Here’s an example, using the Calendar.

Suppose you set aside time on Tuesday to work on a website and you put it into your calendar, like so:

Calendar screenshot showing one appointment
Setting aside a block of time on Tuesday

Let’s say you know you’re not going to get it all done on Tuesday so you want to plan to do it again on Wednesday. Dragging the appointment to Wednesday moves it to Wednesday. It’s gone from Tuesday. Looks like this when you’re done.

Appointment on Wednesday
The appointment has been moved to Wednesday

Notice the cursor when you drag an appointment from one location to another (enlarged here):

Calendar showing appointment and regular cursor
Regular cursor means you’re going to MOVE the appointment

In this case, I really wanted to COPY the appointment to Wednesday, leaving the original on Tuesday. This is easy to do: just hold the Option key down while you drag! Here’s what it looks like as you do it (note the cursor, enlarged for easy viewing):

Calendar showing "duplicate" cursor
This appointment is being copied from Tuesday to Wednesday

And here’s what it looks like when you let go.

Calendar showing two appointments
Result after Option-dragging the appointment from Tuesday to Wednesday

This is much, much easier than entering an event twice. Or even copying and pasting. And it works in a lot more programs than just the Calendar, including…

The Finder (Option-drag to duplicate a file or folder)
Pages and nMicrosoft Word (highlight some text, Option-drag to insert that text in a second location)
Numbers and Microsoft Excel (highlight some cells, Option-drag (grab the EDGE of the selection) to copy those cells elsewhere.

That’s six.

Read 'em all:
Mac Option Key tip #1: the WiFi Menu
Mac Option Key tip #2: the Battery Status Menu
Mac Option Key tip #3: Close All Finder Windows
Mac Option Key tip #4: Reveal a Contact's Groups
Mac Option Key tip #5: Rotate the Other Way
Mac Option Key tip #6: Option-Drag
Mac Option Key tip #7: Option-Click
Mac Option Key tip #8: Option-Empty Trash
Mac Option Key tip #9: Special Characters
Mac Option Key tip #10: One-click System Information
Mac Option Key tip #11: Delete a Messages conversation with one click
Mac Option Key tip #12: Open your Library folder

ONE MORE (on my One-Minute Macman site): How to temporarily turn off Notifications on a Mac quickly and easily

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