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I have a strange situation, which has now occurred with two browsers (Chrome and Edge). I'm running MacOS 11.6.5 on a Macbook Pro 13" 2017.

After a while of running with no issue, I will try and use a different application - could be anything, iTerm, VirtualBox, Teams, Slack, Finder, whatever - but the browser will still appear to take the focus, even if I minimise or hide the browser window.

What it looks like: enter image description here

What it means is that I cannot actually click on buttons or enter text in any other application when this happens - tremendously annoying.

The only way I have found to actually use any other application in this situation is to quit the browser application completely. Closing windows, minimising, hiding, don't work.

Does anyone know why this happens, or what I can do to troubleshoot further?


Update: just closing the browser isn't enough to fix the problem, interestingly. If I re-open the browser, it happens straight away. I need to reboot to be able to go back to fully working normal state.

2 Answers 2

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I don't have a neat solution.

In my case, the problem happens when I try to sync my Google account in System Preferences. When opens the browser in order to authenticate, all programs lose focus except the browser, having the same annoying behaviour if I close and reopen the browser again. When I cancel the sync process and quit System Preferences, sometimes works normal again.

But, all the focus problem seems to be related to the SafariLaunchAgent process. As Activity Monitor also loses focus until the navigator closes, I quit the navigator and then kill that process, saving me a reboot.

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  • How did you find this solution?
    – NSaran
    Jul 16, 2022 at 22:18
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    @NSaran I found it with a coffee and the determination of killing processes that I thought related until I saw who is responsible. Fortunately, SafariLaunchAgent was one of the first ones haha Jul 19, 2022 at 14:53
  • Have voted up this answer as the SafariLaunchAgent agent kill helps but I don't have any accounts in System Preferences > Internet Accounts so if it is the same bug in that process, it's a different trigger/cause. I'll switch back to using one of the problem browsers (Firefox hasn't yet displayed the same problem) and see if I can find a common trigger. Aug 30, 2022 at 13:54
  • I my case, reason was not finished before starting Google password authentication on os x System. After open Safari and finished sync auth, chrome was released focus.
    – Alex
    Oct 31, 2022 at 6:32
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I have the same problem and have found a workaround, which is to make Safari your default browser until you're done linking accounts:

  1. Go to System Preferences > General, set Default Web Browser: to Safari
  2. Go to System Preferences > Internet Accounts, update passwords via Safari OAUTH flow
  3. Set Default Web Browser back to what it was.

Apple must have introduced this bug recently via the SafariLaunchAgent mentioned above.

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  • This fixed the problem for me. Thanks a lot. Feb 24 at 13:06

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