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I imagine I'm hitting some serious of hotkeys but on rare occasions, my Mac will start handling keyboard AND mouse clicks in an odd way.

This just happened and, all of a sudden, here are some of the oddities that were happening.

  • Whether caps lock was on or off (as indicated on my keyboard by the light), ALL TEXT WAS IN CAPS.
  • In parallels, if I clicked on some text and moved my mouse, the text would highlight as I moved my mouse, as if I were holding down the mouse button. I wasn't.
  • In Chrome (in macOS, not my parallels OS) clicking on a link would open a new tab.

There were some other odd behaviors but I didn't catch them all. I was able to restart the machine from the macOS menu and, thankfully, this turned off whatever mode was turned on.

So, any idea what happened and how to cancel next time? I have a hunch that this is an accessibility feature, but I have no idea what that would be much less how to turn it off.

(Just in case these details are required, I have a 2017 MBP, and I'm on the most up-to-date version of macOS High Sierra.)

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The symptoms you are describing point to a stuck key which is plaguing the new 2016 through 2018 MacBooks and MacBook Pros with the new keyboard. My guess is that one of the Shift keys may be (becoming) stuck.

  • Text in all caps
  • Text being selected as you move your mouse
  • New Tab/Windows opening when you click a link

Try using an external keyboard - this will confirm if the problem is the built in keyboard or not. If the problem goes away, the keyboard needs to be replaced.

Update (from comments below): Since you're using an external keyboard, it's entirely possible that that keyboard is having issues. Try using KeyCodes (free app) to see what keys are being pressed. If a key is stuck, it will show up in this event viewer.

  • Well, that's the odd thing. I use an attached keyboard. A very old IBM one. I checked all of my keys-- none were physically stuck, especially the alts, ctrls, shifts or other command keys. Also, nothing odd happened on a restart. It could be the keyboard though. Not sure what would be going on, but maybe. – RLH Aug 8 '18 at 16:41
  • That's a very important detail to omit from the question. As for sticking keys, it's doesn't have to be physically stuck. See apple.stackexchange.com/a/298854/119271 – Allan Aug 8 '18 at 16:47
  • Attaching a keyboard does not necessarily unattach the keyboard on your MBP. If that has problems with a stuck key, that could well affect anything you use to type or mouse. – Wayfaring Stranger Aug 8 '18 at 19:29
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Really this could be hardware or software. The first step is to figure out which it is.

First, start the Mac in Safe Mode: hold down the shift key while booting, when you see the Apple logo release the shift key and wait for boot to finish. It will take a lot longer than normal as it does a lot of housekeeping at startup in safe mode.

If the problem goes away in safe mode, congratulations, it's software. Unfortunately you now need to look through all the stuff you have installed to figure out what is messing things up. Most likely something that runs at startup.

If the problem persists in Safe Mode, try creating another user account: System Preferences > Users & Groups > unlock > Click the + at bottom left.

Then log in as that user and see if the issue persists. If not then something in your original User profile is causing problems. Probably something that runs at startup, but possibly a damaged preference file of some sort. You can spend a lot of time figuring out what it is or just move your files to the new profile and delete the old one.

If the problem persists across all of this I would start to believe that it is hardware and a trip to an Apple store might be in your future.

  • It goes away with a normal restart. I've seen this probably 2-3 times in the past few years, across 2 Macbooks. The tale-tell symptom is dragging the mouse always highlights text. I'm using a magic mouse but, even historically, there are always other odd behaviors like the ALL CAPS text, regardless of the caps lock state. – RLH Aug 8 '18 at 16:38
  • Did it happen with the same keyboard? Is this keyboard using PS/2? – little tiny man Aug 8 '18 at 19:28

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