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#8961 - 03/20/10 06:51 AM Clicking Desktop Doesn't Bring Finder to Front
dkmarsh Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09

This issue was touched on a time or two in the MFI Forums, but I've thus far been unable to track down a relevant thread.

The basic issue is the failure of Finder to become frontmost when the Desktop is clicked on. It typically happens when I'm in a browser (either Camino 2.0.1 or Safari 4.0.4). I click on the Desktop, intending to make Finder active (say, to bring to the front an already-open Finder window). The browser window becomes dimmed, as expected, but no Finder window appears, and the browser menubar remains in place. I need to click on Finder's Dock icon to exit this no-active-app limbo. (I haven't had the presence of mind to try Command-Tabbing my way to Finder in such a case as yet.)

This phenomenon is unpredictable, and has persisted in its intermittent way over many months of running OS X 10.5, surviving system updates (I'm currently at 10.5.8), browser updates, and a whole range of activities thought by some to address inexplicable symptoms (disk repair, permissions repair, etc.). I should note that none of these activities were undertaken in response to this particular issue: first, because its intermittent nature makes evaluating the success of any proposed antidote problematic, but second, because it feels to me more like a bug in the OS whose conditions for reproducibility I have yet to understand.

Furthermore, though I haven't documented the occasions, my recollection is that the issue isn't confined to Finder; I believe that in at least a couple of instances, Activity Monitor refused to yield the menubar to Camino or Safari until the browser's Dock icon was clicked on. (Though my memory is hazy: it's possible that clicking on the Dock icon of the application which won't relinquish the menubar also works to break out of the limbo.) In any event, the general case is that clicking on another application's window (or the Dekstop, in the case of Finder) deactivates the current application without bringing the clicked-on application to the front.

It's not a big concern, but since I remember some discussion of the phenomenon having taken place at MFIF, I wondered if anyone else here running 10.5 has noticed anything similar.
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#8962 - 03/20/10 07:17 AM Re: Clicking Desktop Doesn't Bring Finder to Front [Re: dkmarsh]
jchuzi Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: New York State
I'm no longer using 10.5 but I don't recall that this issue has ever occurred for me in any OS. I just tested it in 10.6 and had no problem but you did say that its occurrence was intermittent. If memory serves, you don't have any directory repair app other than Disk Utility. If you have access to Disk Warrior, TechTool Pro or Drive Genius, one of them might be worth a try.
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OS 10.14.2, iMac Retina 5K 27-inch, late 2014, 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5, 1 TB fusion drive, 16 GB RAM, Epson SureColor P600, Photoshop CC, Lightroom CC, MS Office 365

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#8971 - 03/20/10 08:18 PM Re: Clicking Desktop Doesn't Bring Finder to Front [Re: dkmarsh]
ganbustein Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
I've had this happen to me a few times in Tiger. Like you, I usually finally get around it by clicking on Finder's dock icon, but the last time it happened I managed to get out of this mode by tapping the command key.

I'm waiting for it to happen again so I can confirm, but it seemed to be behaving as if the system missed the last keyUp event for the command key.

Hrmm... no. I can't reproduce your symptoms. With Safari in front, a command-click on the desktop still brings Finder to the front in Tiger, but does nothing (not even deactivating the Safari window) in Snow Leopard, except that it will toggle the selected state of any desktop icon I hit.

I should mention that failure to register a keyUp is a recurring problem on both of my computers (G4 on Tiger, iMac on Snow Leopard), one that usually has disastrous results. For example, typing the delete key to remove one track from an iTunes playlist once ended up not only removing all tracks but then went on to delete all my playlists! There's no undo for that

I suspect USB flakiness, rather than software. It happens often enough (about weekly) to be really annoying, but not often enough to trouble shoot. I think it's probably related to the problem where the mouse just suddenly shoots off into a corner of the screen.

(Before anyone asks: BlueTooth is turned off. There are no wireless input devices anywhere around, except for the IR remote on the iMac, which I rarely use. No trackpads to register phantom gestures.)

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#8972 - 03/20/10 10:33 PM Re: Clicking Desktop Doesn't Bring Finder to Front [Re: dkmarsh]
Hal Itosis Offline


Registered: 09/03/09
Loc: 10.6.8 (build 10K549)
Yes, the "glass desktop" seems like it's been around a while. I experienced it only a few times back in Puma/Jaguar/Panther... but not as i recall in Tiger. The behavior has resurfaced in Leopard (10.5.8 here), but i perceived it may be related to Spaces (and its interaction with some apps which float various windows or palettes).

But i'm also thinking that 3rd-party 'menu extras' that (of necessity) hack their way onto the right-hand side of the menubar might also be involved... the ones that produce windows anyway. [EDIT: i also sometimes experience another condition where Finder is active, but all its menus are disabled.]

idunno really, but as far as Leopard i think maybe it's somewhere in that fuzzy "3rd-party software as it relates to Spaces and/or SystemUIServer" area.

:shrug:

EDIT#2:

Actually, to get Safari into the proper state for disrupting Spaces (and maybe Finder too), get it into some mode where it's doing something special, window-wise. The two that i know of are:
  1. search on page -- do ⌘F and type 'the' or something. Now click over to another app or Space and so forth. Does clicking Safari's icon in the dock bring the focus back again?

  2. open Safari's prefs / Security and click on the Show Cookies button (as if to remove some cookies). Down pops the cookie sheet. Again, go about your business in other apps, and other Spaces for a while.
Notice anything?

Spaces complicates things unfortunately, because maybe i have Safari restricted to space #1 while most other folks might not.

--

Oh... and uh, a very Happy Thanksgiving to ganbustein!!! cool


Edited by Hal Itosis (03/20/10 10:53 PM)

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#8977 - 03/21/10 10:50 AM Re: Clicking Desktop Doesn't Bring Finder to Front [Re: ganbustein]
dkmarsh Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09

Hmm...I never thought of an input device explanation. This might be promising. I reverted to an old Countour mouse when my Logitech's scrollwheel went south, and that switch appears to have been made 12/16/08, which would fit my sense of the time range pretty well—long enough ago to seem like awhile, yet recent enough for me to have been running Leopard.

I'll try disabling CountourMouseHelper, if I can stand a disruption to familiar routines lengthy enough to establish that the issue is clearly gone or clearly not.
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#8978 - 03/21/10 02:50 PM Re: Clicking Desktop Doesn't Bring Finder to Front [Re: dkmarsh]
Hal Itosis Offline


Registered: 09/03/09
Loc: 10.6.8 (build 10K549)
You're not running with Spaces enabled i take it?

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#8980 - 03/21/10 04:58 PM Re: Clicking Desktop Doesn't Bring Finder to Front [Re: Hal Itosis]
dkmarsh Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09

No, Spaces is off. (I don't use Exposé, either; I manage window clutter primarily by hiding apps, using CornerClick as an implementation of Fitts's law.)
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#8983 - 03/21/10 06:35 PM Re: Clicking Desktop Doesn't Bring Finder to Front [Re: dkmarsh]
Virtual1 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Iowa
I am still using 10.5 and never recall seeing that behavior.

do you have any system extensions installed that may be related?
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#8989 - 03/22/10 12:21 AM Re: Clicking Desktop Doesn't Bring Finder to Front [Re: dkmarsh]
Hal Itosis Offline


Registered: 09/03/09
Loc: 10.6.8 (build 10K549)
Originally Posted By: dkmarsh

No, Spaces is off. (I don't use Exposé, either; I manage window clutter primarily by hiding apps, using CornerClick as an implementation of Fitts's law.)

Well, i don't know (if the way Apple has implemented it) whether "off" means completely out of the picture... or if "off" means 1 Space. I just downloaded CornerClick and see some mention of Spaces in the ReadMe:

Quote:
What's new?

version 0.8.2:

Bug fix:

Fixed the "An old version of CornerClick was active (version 0.0)" bug

version 0.8.1:

Leopard Spaces

Added compatibility with Leopard Spaces, so that the CornerClick actions function in all spaces.

[Version 0.8.1 will work only with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard]

And it seems to contain a background app inside the prefPane.

Just saying that it wouldn't be out the realm of possibility that 'CC' itself could be part of this issue. [faceless background apps can sometimes not play properly with Finder, by stealing focus even when it looks like Finder is frontmost.]

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#8992 - 03/22/10 03:57 AM Re: Clicking Desktop Doesn't Bring Finder to Front [Re: Hal Itosis]
dkmarsh Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09

Okay, thanks for thinking on it.

I do have CornerClick 0.8.1, so Leopard compatibility isn't an issue on the face of it, but who knows? A second faceless background app to disable for experimental purposes quadruples the potential permutations!

If the problem will cooperate by manifesting itself again so I can record the exact environmental conditions, I'll post back with that info, then begin experimenting.
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#9067 - 03/27/10 03:54 PM Re: Clicking Desktop Doesn't Bring Finder to Front [Re: dkmarsh]
macnerd10 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I also see this behavior and tried to remedy it so many times that I simply gave up. It happens on my 2.3 GHz PPC running 10.5.8 but never on any Intel running 10.6.2 (three laptops). Another symptom is when you click once on a desktop file, it does not get highlighted. Lately, quitting an app would restore normal behavior. Log out-login and restart also help. I used to trash Finder plist and it restored normal behavior for a while but this move did not solve the problem permanently and required customizing Finder views again. I cannot reproduce it after a specific command/opening, etc.; it seems to happen randomly. And it is not happening only with a browser; sometimes, I see it with MS Office 2004 apps (usually not with Entourage).
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3.1 GHz 13" MacBook Pro 2015, 8 GB RAM, OS 10.11.2, Office 2011, TimeWarner Cable
2.8 GHz Xeon Mac Pro 2010, 16 GB RAM, OS 10.11.2, Office 2011, LAN

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#9072 - 03/28/10 05:10 AM Re: Clicking Desktop Doesn't Bring Finder to Front [Re: macnerd10]
dkmarsh Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09

Quote:
Another symptom is when you click once on a desktop file, it does not get highlighted.

Or what amounts to the same thing: an already-selected file on the Desktop cannot be deselected by clicking on a different Desktop file or on the Desktop itself.

In any case, thanks for the corroboration. I note that both your and ganbustein's experiences involve PPC Macs, as does mine (G4 mini), although the G4 in ganbustein's case is running Tiger. I don't recall experiencing the issue in Tiger, but I suppose it's possible that it's related to a Security Update, issued after I'd moved to Leopard, which covered 10.4.11 as well. (All eight Security Updates issued in 2008, as well as the first five in 2009, were issued simultaneously for 10.4.11 and 10.5.x.)

For that matter, updates to Safari from Beta 3.0.x onward have covered 10.4.11 and up, so I guess Safari can't be ruled out. I'm always running both Camino and Safari, so there's a possibility that Safari is the culprit even in cases which don't seem to involve it directly...
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dkmarsh • member, FineTunedMac Co-op Board of Directors

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#9073 - 03/28/10 10:07 AM Re: Clicking Desktop Doesn't Bring Finder to Front [Re: dkmarsh]
Ira L Offline


Registered: 08/13/09
Loc: California
Have you noticed the problem after using the Dashboard?

I have the experience of a click not activating what you click on after looking at a Dashboard widget. However, a second click does bring the item to the forefront.
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#9074 - 03/28/10 11:24 AM Re: Clicking Desktop Doesn't Bring Finder to Front [Re: Ira L]
dkmarsh Offline

Moderator

Registered: 08/04/09

Thanks for the comment. I don't have Dashboard enabled. (No Dashboard? No Spaces? No Time Machine? Lest you wonder why I bothered upgrading to Leopard, I should note that I do make regular use of Quick Look. laugh )
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#9142 - 04/02/10 12:48 AM Re: Clicking Desktop Doesn't Bring Finder to Front [Re: dkmarsh]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: dkmarsh
I don't have Dashboard enabled. (No Dashboard? No Spaces? No Time Machine? Lest you wonder why I bothered upgrading to Leopard, I should note that I do make regular use of Quick Look. laugh )

Ditto!!!!!!!!!

Quick Look was my impetus for abandoning Panther (Does anybody remember the grief I got before I did so?); I might still be running 10.3 (with all the inherent security risks) were it not for QL. tongue


Edited by artie505 (04/02/10 12:57 AM)
Edit Reason: Hit "Submit" accidentally
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#9158 - 04/02/10 01:55 PM Re: Clicking Desktop Doesn't Bring Finder to Front [Re: dkmarsh]
macnerd10 Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
I use Safari only occasionally. My default is iCab.
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Alex
3.1 GHz 13" MacBook Pro 2015, 8 GB RAM, OS 10.11.2, Office 2011, TimeWarner Cable
2.8 GHz Xeon Mac Pro 2010, 16 GB RAM, OS 10.11.2, Office 2011, LAN

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Moderator:  dianne, dkmarsh, joemikeb