Drag and drop function not working.



I'm not very good with computers, so when something goes wrong I have no idea how to fix my mac =(

Today, for no reason I can understand, my drag and drop function stopped working. I can't drag things (applications, documents, images) to/from the trash. I can't drag images from websites and drop them in folders on my desktop. I can't drag songs from iTunes. I can't drag things from one side of my desktop to the other. I select them, and then they just won't move.

This feature was working fine yesterday.

What have I done?? Yesterday, I was deleting a few programs I don't use, GarageSale, iPhoto, DiskStudio (I don't even know what that is >.<). Could I have accidentally deleted the drag function?

I use OSX 10.5, and my computer is a 2GHz Macbook.

=( I'm really hoping this is reversible. Thanks, Lex.
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Should I do an Archive and Install? I've never done a re-install of OSX ... and I don't want to un-install all my programs, like Word, which I haven't got the CD for anymore.

I have attempted to delete the Finder Preferences (com.apple.finder.plist and also com.apple.sidebarlists.plist ) but I couldn't find either in /Library/Preferences (have they already been deleted? This is a second hand mac, so the previous user could have deleted them?)

I also tried to find and delete these files in single user mode, but my computer skills failed me and I couldn't navigate to the folder.

Is a re-install the only way?
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Mac newbie
Check your mouse settings in system preferences! There is probably something wrong with the mouse button(s).


Thunderbirds are GO!
Try this to see if it brings back your drag'n'drop functionality. Delete the .DS_Store file in the volume's root directory.

.DS_Store files are hidden by default but to bring them into view launch Terminal and type the following, paying close attention to typing exactly what I have.

You can even copy/paste as long as you don't have any highlighted spaces before or after the code.

For Tiger or Leopard:

defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE

Then press Enter to complete the command.

To finish up, you'll need to relauch Finder. You can either do this via the Terminal by typing:

killall Finder

Then press Enter,


You can relaunch Finder by holding the Option key as you click on the Finder icon in your Dock. Select "Relaunch" from the pop-up menu to restart Finder.

While you already have Terminal open it's just easier to use it to do the relaunching .... but as you can see Mac OS always has more than one way to do something :)

To return the files to their default "hidden" state, follow the above steps but change TRUE to FALSE.

Relauch the Finder and everything will be back to normal.

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Mac newbie
VirgilTracy, where can I find about more about the hidden features in Mac OS? Is there a list of defaults somewhere on the Net?


Thanks for the advice VirgilTracy :)

Looks like the problem is bigger than I originally thought. :( My copy function no longer works either. Neither pressing Command + C, or manually Edit>copy will copy anything.

I've no idea what I did to make this happen, but it looks like a re-install will be the best solution.


Exact same problem here!! This just started happening yesterday. I have reinstalled Leopard 2x now and it keeps coming back after a few hours. Is my hardware fried or something?


I'm also having this problem. I can't copy anything to the clipboard and can't drag anything related to the OS or application controls. This started happening after I installed the keyboard firmware update a few days ago, but I can't figure out how to fix the problem. Anyone?


I know this is going to sound extreme, but I had to do an erase and install to get that problem to go away. After doing an archive and install, the problem would come back


I found other forums that have postings about this and it looks like for some reason, the SECURITYSESSIONID environment variable is being set for the Finder's environment. If this is set, it disables copy/paste and drag/drop functionality. Not sure why, but that's what I've gathered. It is set the environment.plist file, but I don't have one. When I open a terminal window and type 'env' I get a list of variables, and sure enough, that one exists.

So, out of curiosity, when you view your environment variables in the terminal, do you have that variable set? Also, do you have this file: ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist ?

If you do, is there anything about that variable in the file?



No I did not have that file. This is the info from typing env in terminal:



i had a similar problem , sometimes i can't do the drag and drop, i dont know why. i dont know if this is going to help you but it works for me :
1)right click at the desktop
2)go to 'more'
3)go to 'configure folder actions'
4)check the enable folder action

i do it every time i can't make a drag and drop an mp3 into the itunes, when i do this then it is ok. i don't know why maybe it has nothing to do with it :) , but it works for me.

Randy Singer

This used to be a common problem under earlier versions of OS X. See:

How To Deal With Common Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar Problems
Item #6

Unfortunately, Dragster, which was a free utility that you could download and instantly fix the problem with, is no longer available.

To the best of my recollection, Dragster deleted these files (some of which can't be deleted directly via the Finder, I'm afraid):


These are cache files and preferences files, which can be safely deleted as the system will simply regenerate fresh copies as needed.


I know this topic is super old, but it was one of the first links that showed up when searching for solutions to this issue, so I thought I'd just add my solution in case anybody else stumbled across this post.

I'm on OSX (Sierra 10.12) and experienced an issue where I lost drag and drop functionality, as well as the ability to do anything on the desktop or within finder. Simply launching the Activity Monitor (use spotlight to find it easily if needed), and simply Force Quitting the Finder process. Finder will restart immediately upon the process ending, and all functionality should restore with it.