Sometimes at the beginning of 2021, I started to have a problem with the "File upload" dialogs in the web browser. The dialog is unresponsive to the mouse. I can use the keyboard for navigation, but the Tab key only switches between the left panel and the "Search" field and I'm unable to focus the main area with files. Thus I'm unable to select a file, but I can escape that dialog with Esc and, as this regards also "Save as" dialogs, I'm able to select some directory in left panel's "Favorites" and confirm with Enter.

As time passes, I realized, that this problem applies to almost all native dialogs. I'm currently unable to open e.g. Pages or TextEdit, as it starts with the "File open" dialog, which I'm unable to handle.

And yesterday, I needed to tweak some configuration in "Security & Privacy" in "System Preferences" and I realized it has the same symptoms. I can click on the top navigation panel and return back to the "System Preferences" main screen, but I'm unable to click on anything in the "Security & Privacy" main section. The keyboard navigation works, but, again, the Tab key only switches between the left list and the "Search" field, and I'm unable to click on "Click the lock to make changes" so, it's all helpless.

I Googled for similar issues, but so far found nothing heplful.

Does anyone have some idea where to look, what to try?

  • 2
    The first thing you want to make sure is that this is a software bug. Take a wired mouse and check again. Then start narrowing down the issue. E.g. you could start in safe mode (support.apple.com/en-us/HT201255) and check if the problem persists. If you have e.g. a Logitech mouse with Logitech options, uninstall and reinstall it. You could further try to reset SMC and NVRAM/PRAM. If nothing helps you could try to do a clean install of macOS. Make a backup first! imore.com/how-do-clean-install-macos
    – X_841
    Mar 4, 2021 at 8:12
  • 1
    Does this occur if you boot in Safe Mode (Shift during boot)?
    – pion
    Mar 4, 2021 at 8:14
  • @X_841thanks. I forgot to mention. I have a MacBook, so I tested with mouse and trackpad and the problem has both, so it is definitely software. Will try the Safe Mode... Mar 4, 2021 at 8:21
  • Check the Accessibility System Preference, to see if any settings for Pointer or Keyboard have been selected.
    – benwiggy
    Mar 4, 2021 at 9:48

2 Answers 2


It seems that this very specific issue (ineffective mouse clicks in file picker dialogs and in System Preferences) is surprisingly common on Big Sur and Monterey. A couple of workarounds that seem to help a bit in some circumstances:

  • file dialog: resize the dialog
  • System Preferences: minimize and then un-minmize it

The only way that I have found to immediately resolve the problem is:

killall Finder
killall Dock

A million thanks to (apparently) the same person who posted this in both Apple Community forums and on Reddit, as that's the only place I seen it, after tons of web searching:

jondavidschober on Apple Community and Littlejd97 on r/MacOS


So I tested it in the "Safe mode" and no problem. After I restarted to normal mode, the problem is also gone 🤷‍♂️

Strange, I know I have quite a long uptime, but I installed an update to macOS 11.2.2 last week and the problem survived the installation of the update and restart.

Hope it will never return 🙏

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