In many editors it is standard to move selected text by dragging and dropping it with the mouse.

In emacs dragging selection with the mouse starts a new selection by default.

This is extremely annoying, as normally (everywhere else) such a behavior is achieved by clicking mouse to deselect text first. Besides, I cannot imagine a single use case for this emacs behavior - starting a new selection immediately after the first one without doing anything with the first selection.

How can I configure emacs to drag existing selection like in all other editors?

  • 3
    Hmmm . . . I was a professional word processor / typist from about 1986 to 2002, and I've worked for myself doing my own document preparation from 2002 to the present. I can honestly say that this is the first time I've ever even thought about the possibility of dragging text with the mouse. :) I'll definitely have to give that a try. :)
    – lawlist
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 23:29
  • Sure, emacs is all about keyboard, but why then enable mouse there and not have it implemented in a way it is expected to be? Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 23:42
  • @AlexanderShcheblikin Maybe give the implementers the benefit of doubt? What you expect seems to be different from what they expect, but maybe there is a reason? (I've never dragged and dropped text in any program, Emacs or other, for what it is worth, so I have no idea what to expect).
    – asjo
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 0:10
  • Check out the inbuilt mouse-copy package. I'll write a proper answer when I get to a computer. You can search for mouse-copy in my config. Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 1:08
  • FYI to easily drag stuff with the keyboard: github.com/rejeep/drag-stuff.el
    – Ehvince
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 15:18

1 Answer 1



  • Add (setq mouse-drag-and-drop-region t) in you init file.
  • Restart or C-c d R to reload if you're using Doom-Emacs.

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I just find out (SURPRISINGLY) that Emacs as text drag and drop. And this since version 22.1 released in 2007. This is actually a feature I didn't even dare to google to see if it's available. Even Sublime Text can't (currently in Linux)

  • support for DnD It appears to be limited to the current frame. I can drag text from one area of my buffer and drop it in another area, and I can split my frame and open a second buffer and drag text between the two, but I can't drag text from one frame and drop it into another frame (or into another application). Ubuntu 18.10 with GNOME 3 and emacs --daemon, in case any of that matters.
    – Dan O
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 13:48
  • Yes, I just find that limitation. At least you can drop text from other application, not the other way around.
    – Asme Just
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 14:15
  • Can you scroll with the mouse wheel while dragging? Commented May 31, 2019 at 11:17
  • @AlexanderShcheblikin I haven't tested it yet.
    – Asme Just
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 11:27
  • Added this variable and it has no effect for me (after restart). Just changes the selection and sets the mark, as before. Commented May 31, 2019 at 11:44

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