A method and system for refining the function performed by a drag operation during the drag operation. After a drag operation begins, a "Drag Toolbar" appears with controls that change the current function of the drag operation when the cursor is moved over a selected control. In the preferred embodiment, the controls are mutually exclusive "radio buttons". However, the controls may be cumulative "check boxes", or incrementing/decrementing, or allow navigation, or otherwise permit object manipulation. The Drag Toolbar may be fixed in place or be a floating palette, may be of various shapes and forms. Selection of a control from the Drag Toolbar may be indicated in any of various manners. The depiction of the cursor may be changed as controls are selected during the drag operation to further indicate which control has been selected. In another embodiment, the Drag Toolbar may be floating and have a "follow me" characteristic, where the Drag Toolbar moves so as to always be within a certain distance from the cursor. The invention provides an unambiguous way for a user to change the drag functionality of a cursor during a drag operation. Thus, a user need not memorize different keyboard modifier combinations. Further, the graphical user interface is not cluttered, since the Drag Toolbar only appears when a drag operation is initiated. The invention can be used for other applications as well, such as drawing mode changes.