After a while of leaving my computer (macOS 10.13.6 High Sierra) on, drag & drop stops working. To be clear: I can only hold files and drag them, but cannot drop them at any location (in finder or within browser). Unlike related issues, copy and paste still works for me.

The only way I can drop the file and free my cursor is by going back to finder, and hitting the escape key, which returns the file to its old location.

Here are all the things I've tried so far:

None of these fix the problem. This issue occurs both with an external mouse and the trackpad.

Restarting or logging out and back in solves this issue temporarily, but it always comes back after some usage. Since it usually takes several hours for it to start happening, I haven't narrowed down what application I open or activity I do that might cause this issue. I enable x11 when connect to a remote server terminal, so I have thought about whether that could cause an issue. But closing x11 and restarting finder doesn't seem to solve the issue.

Another strange thing that happens simultaneously with this issue is that my dock does not display when I move my mouse to the bottom of the screen. But this is not as big of an issue since I can do three-finger up to show it.

System info:

  • macOS 10.13.6 High Sierra

Common apps I use which might be related:

  • Google Chrome
  • x11 from iTerm2
  • InsomniaX (closing this & restarting finder doesn't solve this)
  • Spectacle (closing this & restarting finder doesn't solve this)

Console info:

  • This looks like a relevant message on the console, which occurs when I try to drag & drop:
default ...     WindowServer    CoreAnimation: Context is a zombie!


  • 1
    Create a new user profile and log out of your user profile and log into that one. If the issue goes away there is something specific to your user profile that is causing this. If it is still there the issue is system wide. I would be tempted to back-up the Mac, wipe it, reinstall the OS and see if it recurs. If it does, it's hardware. If it is not restore your files from backup and hope that whatever you are restoring does not bring the issue back Commented Aug 6, 2020 at 15:37
  • Thanks. Unfortunately I am on a work-owned laptop so can't create a new profile. However, I can see the same temporary fix when logging out & logging in as when I restart the computer. So maybe that points to a user profile issue?
    – Miles
    Commented Aug 7, 2020 at 1:16


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