Solved: double click refuses to work


Solved: double click refuses to work
Saturday, 27 October 2012

For maybe 12 months I was frustrated because if I double-clicked an app, file or folder on my MacBook Air nothing happened. I expected the double-clicked item to open, but it never did. It was mystifying, confusing and annoying. Then finally I solved it. Here’s what was going on.

Double click should open things

I’ve used Mac laptops for at least a decade now. Before that I used desktop Macs. And in all that time, I was able to double-click on an app, a file or a folder to open it. It’s always worked, so it was a huge mystery and annoyance to me when it would never work on my MacBook Air.

After some initial troubleshooting I just lived with it. I would Control click an item and choose Open from the contextual menu.

At first I thought it was something to do with Mountain Lion. But once I upgraded my main Mac to Mountain Lion and didn’t have the same problem on that Mac, I realised it was something about the MacBook Air itself.

Check the Trackpad settings

The first step was to check the Trackpad settings in System Preferences.

Trackpad settings in System Preferences.

Trackpad settings in System Preferences.

Tracking Speed actually controls how quickly the cursor shoots across the screen as you move your finger on a trackpad. That setting shouldn’t have made a difference, and in my testing it certainly didn’t affect the problem I was having.

I messed around with the other settings in that Preference Pane just in case, but nothing made a difference. I hadn’t expected it would.

I went back to work and decided to try again another day to solve the problem.

By the way: if it drives you crazy that the cursor moves s-l-o-w-l-y across the screen as you move your finger on the Trackpad, try changing the Tracking Speed. As the screenshot shows, I have mine set to as fast as it can go.

Check the Accessibility settings

The other day I was having another go at solving this annoying problem when I thought to look at the Accessibility settings in System Preferences. There, under Mouse & Trackpad, was my answer: Double-click speed.

Accessibility settings: Double-click speed.

Accessibility settings: Double-click speed.

At some point when the MacBook Air was new I must have gone in there, moved the slider to Fast and then forgotten all about it.

Once I moved the slider back towards Slow I was finally able to double-click on the Trackpad exactly as I expected.

My MacBook Air is so much more fun to use now. 😉

What are you struggling with on your Apple devices?

The main focus of MacTips is to help you learn how to use your Apple gear better, so you can be more efficient and effective and have more fun. Although this Tip was more about troubleshooting, I’m keen to hear what you’re struggling with. What Tips would most help you? Contact me and let me know.

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3 Comments

  1. April Mains said:

    I have had this same problem forever. I never thought of checking the accessibility settings. Fixed instantly. Thank you.

  2. KiwiGraham said:

    The accessibility options in both OS X and iOS can lead to unexpected and frustrating symptoms for the unaware, but on the other hand they’re worth exploring for features that may make life a whole lot easier.

    My primary example is “zoom”. In OS X this is usually done by holding down the control key while scrolling up/down with wheel/button/touchpad. In iOS it is usually done by a three finger double tap. Well worth knowing if your eyes aren’t quite what they used to be!

    • Miraz Jordan said:

      I was caught out myself by the 3 finger double tap recently. I had damp hands from cooking and was hurriedly trying to tap the Pause button on an audio file on my iPhone. It wasn’t responding so I tapped repeatedly. Next thing I knew the screen had zoomed and I couldn’t figure out how to unzoom or to scroll around to see the Pause or other buttons.

      I think I just muted the phone until I had a chance later to consult the Settings app.

      At least I knew enough to check Settings, but it was surprising and alarming. If, like many people, I hadn’t known that Accessibility settings even existed I could have ended up talking to tech support.

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