Drag and Drop Stops Working

I used to have this issue on my Vista 64-bit system: I’d go to drag a file from the desktop to another location either on the desktop or in a nested folder on the computer. In any case, I could not drag the icons. It seemed as though as soon as I’d try to drag it the selection would disappear.
A simple reboot would fix that right up.
I’m not a big fan of rebooting my systems – I try to leave them up and running as long as possible without being a security risk (so roughly a month at a time – although my test slackware server would stay up for a year at a time). I also hate it when software installs and then says “reboot to finish”. I almost always ignore the requests.

So rebooting a system whenever I can no longer drag and drop items on my system is a definite no-no. Anyway, I never really looked further into it as I went back to using XP after trying vista out for a while. I chalked it up to a “vista issue”. Don’t we all?

Fast forward to last week: A coworker of mine complained that he could no longer drag and drop on his Windows 7 x64 system. I told him that he should reboot and it’ll work after that. He rebooted. It worked.

But then today it happened to me. Argh. I closed out of all my terminal sessions to see if that would fix it. Nope. I closed out of all my java-based applets/applications. Nope. I closed all my command windows and MMC windows. Nope. I closed all of my chatting programs (MSN/Pidgin/Skype) and all my remote help programs (gotomeeting/tightvnc/glance/logmein). Nope. I closed all my Microsoft programs (Outlook, Internet Explorer, Excel, Word) and my Mozilla programs (firefox, thunderbird). Nope. Argh, wtf? I even closed my putty sessions and my foobar2000 music player. Notta.

Then I looked in the services.msc and started randomly restarting all available services. Nothing. This was starting to take more time than actually rebooting the machine after installing windows updates.

After a bit of searching, I find a “fix” for XP machines:
regsvr32 ole32.dll
regsvr32 /i shell32.dll

As this is a Windows 7 64bit machine, I have my doubts. But I try them anyway. Nothing.

Then I find this site (http://astahost.com/info.php/problem-drag-drop_t14544.html) which tells me to press and release (hit) the escape key. Damn, all that wasted time.

SO, if you want to know how to fix it:
Press ESC

That is all.

I also had some other issues that were not solved by the ESC solution above. After pressing both CTRL buttons several times, both Windows Key buttons several times, and both ALT keys several times the problem went away again. Stuck keyboards FTW!

94 thoughts on “Drag and Drop Stops Working”

  1. Was very hopeful BUT it is NOT working for me, hitting ESC key. 64bit Windows7, have unchecked the Ease of Access mouse edge box also. The touchpad drag and drop works but not my trackball. Any suggestions?

  2. Haha. This thread is amazing! More than three years after publication and the gift keeps on giving. It feels almost stupid to hit esc after searching everywhere for an answer. Almost doesnt want it to work… but I can only add my thanks to the commentaries before me. It worked for me as well!

  3. Hi, thanks for the solution. I’ve found that presing “SHIFT+ESC” will disable the drag and drop functionality on my Windos 7. I found that cause every time I run Task Manager with “CTLR+SHIFT+ESC” I lost drag and drop.

  4. Recently,probably after an update (post feb,2013) I experienced the drag-drop nuisance item where you have to make several attempts to drag a window across 2 screens. I’ve searched many sites and came up with a common solution being the ‘escape’ key so I tried it. Now when I click on a window I toggle from full scale to window and can’t move it at all. Very frustrating. Win7,sp1,64 bit,logitech wireless mouse new setpoint software

  5. Its one of these moments!!

    If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

    Thanks for the fix!

  6. Just fixed this for one of my users. Glad I came across this page. Thanks for the fix mate!! I will forever press the “ESC” key for all other issues first. 🙂

  7. Yep, still works!! Little crazy but it was the fix. User reported not being able to drag and drop emails. Later determined that it was drag in drop in general. And hitting the esc key did the trick.

    Thanks so much!

  8. this is gold. I could not drag in outlook, desktop, anywhere. Hit ESC and bingo. thanks.

  9. Wow I’ve been using Windows forever and never experienced this until today. I think Jason (above) got it right. In my case I was not using VMs but instead VNC–working on a PC from a remote PC–and had a problem and afterwards BOTH PCs exhibited this weird “can’t even move a file much less copy-drag it”. I right-click-hold-mouse-hit-ESC and it worked for both machines, the 2nd machine this even worked over the network i.e. I was using VNC Viewer at the time (actually TightVNC).

    Good stuff OP!

  10. This Windows 7 issue that cannot drag & drop are there since 2011 and never had a fix even today !!!
    Had Try ESC… Never Work !!!

  11. Wow. I am running Windows 8.1, and as I frequently make use of firefox tab dragging for rearranging and creating new windows and bookmarks, I was really confused when it stopped working. I googled the “firefox” drag and drop issue, and every applicable post is more than 2 years old. This always happens to me, and it is always frustrating. Then one person linked here, and holy crap, reading your intro made me dread having to get in the registry or services or install some 3rd party tool for a defunct OS, when bam, “ESC”. Yeah, it worked perfectly. So relieved, so glad this is still on the internet from June of 2010 (nearly 4 and a half YEARS ago!)

  12. Holy shyte on a shingle! I’ve just spent an hour googling this with no luck, but this works.

    WTF and unbelievable.

  13. Thank you!! It’s working in Windows 10 Technical Preview (yes, this problem will survive in new Windows). Thanks so much.

  14. Ok. But WHY does this keep happening. I mean it is every time I try to use my computer. I never had this problem before. It really makes me angry.

  15. NOTHING works for me. I’ve rebooted, unplugged and replugged the mouse, changed to a new mouse, pressed CTRL and ESC individually and together, held the right mouse button and pressed ESC, held the left button and pressed ESC, pressed CTRL+ALT+DEL and then ESC, run regedit and confirmed that the 1802 value is 0, and still I can’t drag and drop. Any other suggestions? And yes, like Theresa, I am beyond angry at this point.

  16. The solution for re-enabling drag and drop in Firefox was quite simple: Ensure the “Run this program as an Administrator” check-box is unticked in the windows Firefox shortcut compatibility settings.

    If you were like me, you may have enabled that compatibility setting to resolve issues with other Firefox addons. With recent addon updates, I found that running in administrator mode was no longer needed.

    Hope this helps a few of you with this frustrating problem.

  17. Thanks!
    I had forgotten how to resolve this, but got hit again today, and find again this post.

    So, trouble still occurring for me too, but very infrequently. And esc works great. As others suspect, looks for my case bound to some rdp session switching (rdp to a vm host on which I’ve launch a vm view, to complicate things further).

    (As wcl said, there is some others cases for drag’n drop functionality to be disabled, esc will not solve all cases. The “program running as admin” case, causing the program to ignore any attempt to drag’n drop something to them, is not even really a bug but some kind of security functionality. It disables things like ‘reacting to drag’n drop from other apps’ in order to prevent a “non admin running” program from interacting with an “admin running” program.)

  18. Hi, sorry this doesn’t work for me. I press esc and it just beeps at me. Never had prob before. Then last Thursday I tried to c and d 2 movies from downloads to my usb and it just says ‘windows explorer has stopped working’ followed by ‘windows explorer is restarting’ and just goes back to the desktop.

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