Mac Daniel's Advice

I Can No Longer Move Files Using Mac OS X

Dan Knight - 2007.11.05

From Dan Finegan:

Hi Dan -

First off, thank you for Low End Mac. Your website is a daily must read, and I can't begin to tell you what a wonderful resource you have been for me over the years.

Here's where I am hoping either you or some of your readers can help me. My son has a G3 Blue and White running OS X 10.2.8. For some strange reason, the computer won't let him drag any files or folders. I'm fairly sure it's not a hardware issue, and here's the reason - if I boot the computer into OS 9, or if a use an OS X 10.2 CD, it drags like any computer should. I've even created a new user in OS X and have the same problem. I've tried swapping mice and keyboards - the problem reoccurs.

I'm guessing that in some previous life someone set some obscure setting in permissions or something that blocks the Mac's ability and drag items, but I can't locate it. Anyone have any suggestions about how I might be able to fix this?

Thanks in advance for your assistance.



I've run into that a couple times myself. In each instance, rebooting the computer solved the problem. The fact that you have the problem with a new user indicates something is messed up with the OS X install. I'd suggest a clean reinstall that archives your current installation so you can recover users, system additions, and the like.


Thanks Dan -

If I do a clean install, will that wipe out all the saved documents, etc.? My son has his documents scattered all over the drive (!) and is worried about losing something important.

Thanks again -


You have several options when installing OS X, and you have to go out of your way to wipe the hard drive before the installation. Use the "Archive and Install" option, which "automatically moves existing system files to a folder named Previous System, then installs Mac OS X again" (Apple).


Hi Dan -

Thanks for the advice - the "archive and install" option did the trick, and now the drag function is restored. I really though is was some deeply hidden option in the OS, so I was barking up the wrong tree.

Keep up the great website!

Regards -


Glad to hear everything is working now!


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