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I'm not trying to drag and drop to an invalid location. I'm just trying to drag files from one folder to another within the same path. Nothing crazy.

I tap and drag the files, move to the destination directory and the folder opens like I've been hovering over it. I lift my finger from the trackpad like I've been doing for years, and nothing happens. The files remain stuck to the cursor. I move it around and they won't drop anywhere. I even hover over the source directory and they won't drop. They ONLY way I can get them to drop is to hold ESC while tapping again - found that thru massive trial and error.

This just started today and NO, a reboot does not help. Any clues??

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UPDATE: This is not limited to files. I just found out that if I select a block of text and drag it, it won't drop. WTH??? – jtalarico Aug 29 '11 at 0:40
Related:…, but for snow leopard – Vervious Aug 29 '11 at 0:53
Yah, that's not the solution. I've already gone through the whole process of enabling/disabling usability features, etc. with no luck. Even if it were the problem, why would they just start messing with system behavior randomly? – jtalarico Sep 1 '11 at 15:12
NEW UPDATE: a solution, but still no idea why it's happening. On a lark, I put my MBP to sleep (closed it) and when it woke, the problem went away. A day later, the problem resurfaced. Sleep, wake, no problem again. All of this started since the Lion upgrade, so I'm really concerned. I've also seen odd behavior in a Win7 VM (Virtualbox) that ALSO cleared up after a sleep-wake cycle. Reboots have no effect, but sleep does. fun. – jtalarico Sep 1 '11 at 15:14
Try enabling three-finger drag. Does that work? – CajunLuke Oct 4 '11 at 0:33
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Answer care of Allen Matsumoto

If you're running Lion, one of the MBP models listed below, AND have a third-party video driver of any kind installed, the "can't drag and drop" problem can occur.

MacBookPro5,1 (15-inch, Late 2008) MacBookPro5,2 (17-inch, Early or Mid 2009) MacBookPro5,3 (15-inch, Mid 2009)

My 3d party driver happens to be from the AirDisplay app, though iDisplay and various USB display attachment products also install 3d party video drivers and have the problem. (

The only workaround until Apple fixes the issue (which is seeming less and less likely given how long it's been around) is to be sure to put your MBP to sleep after any restart.

I restart so infrequently that this always crops up and I have to look it up to recall the problem and fix. Hey, maybe I'll find my own post next time, Memento-style!

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I'm voting this up and marking it as the preferred answer even tho it's not exactly a solution. I'm running Lion on a mid-2009 17in. MBP, but don't have any 3rd party video driver, AirDisplay, etc. installed. – jtalarico Jun 28 '12 at 16:19

Are you absolutely sure this isn't drag lock? That sure is what it sounds like. If you continue to have this problem, create a new profile in OSX and fully logout of your current profile and login to the new one. If your problem is gone, you have corrupted preferences which isn't all that uncommon. You can also try disk very/repair and permission verify/repair. But I think you may have some SL artifacting. Hope this helps.


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It's definitely not drag lock. The behavior is the same when it's on or off. And it was off when this started happening. – jtalarico Sep 4 '11 at 4:07

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