GUI File Manager Drag-and-Drop

To my knowledge there is no way to enable a confirmation dialog when using drag-and-drop in a GUI file manager.

I use MATE 1.16 and Caja, but I confirmed the same behavior with Thunar.

When on the same file system, the default drag-and-drop behavior is to move folders and files without confirmation. Copying folders and files with drag-and-drop requires the Ctrl key. The default behavior across different file systems is to copy.

Users can enable confirmation dialogs when deleting folders and files but not for moving or copying.

At work we had a laptop trackpad incident with one of our migrated laptops. A user inadvertently moved a shared NAS folder into an adjacent folder. We thought the folder had been deleted. Some digging found the folder only moved.

At 1.4 GB in the folder, not a fun moment for the unfortunate user.

Some nominal usability testing indicates the default drag-and-drop behavior happens quite fast with no affirmative visible feedback. Look away momentarily and the user never notices the accidental move event. The move event happens quickly with a mouse or trackpad.

At work we have users who are not so agile or dexterous (including me). I am surprised such an event has not happened sooner with laptops, especially since trackpads are so fickle.

I suspect the cause of the accidental drag-and-drop is configuring the trackpad to simulate mouse clicks.

For now I have configured the following:

  • Set drag-and-drop threshold to maximum.
  • Set the double-click speed to slow.
  • Disable touchpad while typing.
  • Disabled using mouse clicks with the trackpad.
  • Disabled two-finger and three-finger click emulation.
  • Disable all scrolling options.

These settings render the trackpad to behave more like a traditional mouse. To me, all of these additional trackpad features and gestures is an accident waiting to happen.

That is not an argument that the same accident can’t happen with a traditional mouse. Only that such an accident probably is easier with a trackpad.

Browsing the web indicates this is a common problem with all operating systems. Drag-and-drop usually is convenient, but this is a classic usability issue. An optional file manager confirmation dialog would resolve and preclude accidental folder and file moving.

Almost all computer users have at one time or another been bitten by this design flaw. This problem is not a training issue. This is not a “right-click” issue. This is not about being aware of the mistake and “undoing” the transfer.

Perhaps I am overlooking something obvious.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: General, MATE

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