How to Use Drag and Drop on an iPad and iPhone

Wednesday December 19, 2018 9:28 AM PST by Juli Clover

Starting with iOS 11, Apple overhauled the way we interact with the iPad, introducing several features designed to make the iPad experience better mimic the way we use a Mac or a PC. Central among these new features is a revamped Dock that holds more apps, an improved app switcher, and most importantly, system-wide Drag and Drop.

With Drag and Drop, text, links, photos, files, and more can be transferred between one app and another without the need to use in-app Share Sheets. It's a great way to do things like add photos or links to an email, save PDFs or documents from an email to the Files app, share links with friends in Messages, and more.

Below, we'll walk you through the steps on how to use Drag and Drop and offer some examples of how it can be used in different apps.

How to Use Drag and Drop

  1. Tap and hold on a link, text, a photo, or a file within any app on the iPad.
  2. While maintaining a finger on the file in question, move your finger away to initiate a drag gesture.
  3. You now have a file, link, or photo that can be dropped into any other app.
  4. To open up another app, you can tap it from the Home screen, bring up the dock with a swipe, use the app switcher, or use a Split-View multitasking window. Dragging multiple files between apps is particularly useful with two apps open at once.
  5. Continue dragging the file/link/photo into the other app.

How to Drag and Drop Multiple Files at Once

Drag and Drop works with more than one file at a time, so if you want to move multiple files to the Files app or drag multiple photos from the Photos app to another location on the iPad, you can do so with Drag and Drop.

  1. Grab a file with a drag gesture (tap, hold, and pull away).
  2. Keep your finger on the file.
  3. With another finger or your other hand, simply tap additional files.
  4. The new files will be added to the file under your first finger and you'll see a little blue badge letting you know how many files are being dragged.
  5. Multiple files work just like a single file - open up another app to drop your content where it needs to go.

Drag and Drop Usage Examples

Because Drag and Drop is a system-wide feature on the iPad, you can drag all kinds of files between any app, just like you can do on a Mac or a PC. It makes moving content between apps so much simpler than iOS 10. Below are some of the ways it can be used:

  • Dragging photos from the Photos app to Mail or Messages
  • Dragging a link from Safari to Notes, Mail, or Messages
  • Transferring a photo from a web page in Safari to the Photos app
  • Copying a PDF from the Mail app to the Files app, Notes or another app
  • Dragging your location in Maps from the Maps app to Messages or Mail
  • Dragging a calendar event from the Calendar app to Mail or Messages
  • Dragging a contact from the Contacts app to Messages to share contact info with friends
  • Selecting a block of text and then transferring it from one app to another
  • Dragging an address from Maps to another app
  • Dragging a Reminder into Mail or Messages
  • Dragging an Apple News story into Mail or Messages to share a link
  • Move multiple apps on the Home screen into a folder with multi-drag

While Drag and Drop is a feature available anywhere on the iPad, third-party apps still need to implement support for it, so it may not be immediately available in all apps right when iOS 11 launches.

Drag and Drop on the iPhone

While Drag and Drop was primarily built for the iPad, there are a limited number of Drag and Drop features that also work on the iPhone.


You can use the multi-drag feature to drag more than one app from the Home screen into a folder or onto another screen, and you can drag and drop files between different folders in the Files app. Outside of these two use cases, there's no other Drag and Drop functionality available on the iPhone at this time.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
33 months ago
Which devices does d&d actually work with?
[doublepost=1505870994][/doublepost]

All of this finger dragging would still be much faster with some mouse support on the iPad pro.

Funny you should be joining in with all the liars in that case, "former Apple user".
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
33 months ago
Drag and drop has to be one of my favorite features with iOS 11. Nice implementation for the iPad.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Leaker Claims New 13-inch MacBook Pro Coming as Soon as Next Month

Monday April 6, 2020 2:56 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Apple will announce a new 13-inch MacBook Pro in May with the codename J223, according to a rumor shared by YouTuber and leaker Jon Prosser. Note: it’s a refresh to the current 13” So the bigger 14” display upgrade is a big possibility— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) April 4, 2020 Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said Apple plans to release new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models with scissor keyboards ...

iOS 14 Could Offer Home Screen Widgets, Wallpaper Customizations

Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30 pm PDT by Frank McShan
iOS 14 could offer home screen widgets and wallpaper customizations for the first time, according to 9to5Mac and Twitter user DongleBookPro. Apple is reportedly working to implement widgets that can be moved freely around like icons on the iPhone and iPad homescreen for the very first time. The feature is reportedly codenamed "Avocado" and no other details are available. It was also...

'Leaked' Images Allegedly Show iPhone 12 With Smaller Notch, Rear Camera Redesign, and Home Screen Widgets

Tuesday April 7, 2020 4:28 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Two images shared on social media this morning are currently stoking speculation about possible hardware redesigns coming to the iPhone 12 and the potential introduction of Home screen widgets in iOS 14. Shared by Twitter user Fudge (choco_bit), the images depict a front and rear graphical representation of a smartphone with interface elements on the screen, suggesting it came out of a...

More References to Apple's Upcoming Low-Cost iPhone Appear Online

Monday April 6, 2020 4:38 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Further references to Apple's upcoming low-cost iPhone have appeared online, one on a Chinese e-commerce website and another on Verizon's smartphone trade-in page. Spotted by tech blog MySmartPrice, Chinese retailer JD.com has published a placeholder for Apple's so-called "iPhone 9" that includes a teaser image of a veiled smartphone, but other than that it lacks any particularly revealing...

The New York Times, IFTTT, Medium, and Other Apps Adopt Sign in With Apple Ahead of June 30 Deadline

Sunday April 5, 2020 7:08 pm PDT by Frank McShan
Apps with sign-in functionality, including The New York Times, IFTTT, Medium, and more, have continued to adopt Apple's secure Sign in with Apple feature ahead of a deadline of June 30. The deadline for these apps to support the feature was recently extended from April 30. Sign in with Apple, first introduced in iOS 13, allows users to create accounts for apps and websites using an Apple ID. ...

Some Users Experiencing System Crashes on macOS 10.15.4, Especially During Large File Transfers

Monday April 6, 2020 8:17 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
A sizeable number of Mac users are experiencing occasional system crashes after updating to macOS Catalina version 10.15.4, released a few weeks ago. The crashing issue appears to be most prominent when users attempt to make large file transfers. In a forum post, SoftRAID described the issue as a bug and said that it is working with Apple engineers on a fix for macOS 10.15.5, or a...

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 13.4.1 With Fix for FaceTime Bug

Tuesday April 7, 2020 10:06 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 13.4.1, minor updates that come two weeks after the release of iOS and iPadOS 13.4, major updates that introduced iCloud Folder Sharing, a new Mail toolbar, trackpad support for the iPad, and more. The iOS and ‌iPadOS‌ 13.4.1 updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the updates, go to Settings > General...

Top Stories: Apple Leaks iPhone SE and AirTags, Apple Buys Dark Sky, and More

Saturday April 4, 2020 6:00 am PDT by MacRumors Staff
With the calendar rolling over to April this week, we yet again saw several leaks and rumors, most notably including Apple itself leaking some references to a pair of long-rumored products: a new budget iPhone SE and AirTags item trackers. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Apple also acquired popular weather app Dark Sky, while Amazon's Prime Video app now allows...

Apple Reportedly Targeting WWDC for Over-Ear Headphones Launch, New 'AirPods X' Later in the Year

Tuesday April 7, 2020 7:00 am PDT by Eric Slivka
Rumors of Apple-branded over-ear headphones have been circulating for quite some time, while more recent rumors have mentioned an "AirPods Pro Lite" that could also be in the works, and Twitter leaker Jon Prosser's recent foray into Apple rumors provides a bit more detail on what we might able to expect for these products. Current Beats Studio3 Wireless and BeatsX On the over-ear side,...

Apple Donating Over 20 Million Masks to Healthcare Professionals, Producing Face Shields With Suppliers

Sunday April 5, 2020 2:51 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple CEO Tim Cook today shared a video message with an update on the company's response to the ongoing pandemic. Cook said Apple has now sourced over 20 million masks that it is in the process of donating to healthcare professionals around the world. Apple is working with governments to ensure that the masks are donated to the places of greatest need. Cook added that Apple's design,...