Mac OS X: Sticky Menu Problem

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
April 1st, 2003 • 2:47 am

This is something that has been bugging me for a while, but it’s very intermittent and unpredictable, so I don’t know quite what to do about it. I can’t really report it until I have a clearer idea of what triggers it.

In a nutshell, the problem is that, all of a sudden, some menus in Mac OS X become “sticky” even though they shouldn’t be. My mousing habits are still pretty much a mix of the “old” traditional Mac way, where the menus would only stay pulled down as long as you held the mouse button down, and of the newer/Windows-inspired way, where menus can be pulled down by clicking (with an immediate mouse button release) on the menu heading/control and stay down until you click again on one of the menu items or elsewhere (which is sometimes described as “sticky menus”).

Recent versions of the Mac OS support both behaviours concurrently, of course. If you click on a menu heading/control and hold the mouse button down, the menu behaves in the old Mac way. If you click on a menu heading/control and release the mouse button immediately, the menu behaves in the sticky way. And that’s fine with me because I use both indifferently.

The thing that bugs me appears to be a bug in Mac OS X that occurs after a while, and makes some menus sticky even when using the old click-and-hold method, where they shouldn’t be sticky.

The problem is that, once it starts happening, it doesn’t affect all menus all the time. But it does affect some of them all the time. For example, the “Signatures” popup menu in Mail is affected: Right now, if I create a new message in Mail and click-and-hold on the Signatures menu to change the message’s signature, roll down to the signature of my choice and release the mouse button, Mail highlights the menu item but doesn’t trigger it (= sticky behaviour). I have to click again on the menu item in ORDER to trigger the selection of the item. And it happens all the time in that particular menu control. But it does not affect the menus in the Mail menu bar all the time. It only affects them some of the time. (I just tried. I switched back to Mail and tried the “Preferences…” command in the application menu. It worked fine. I switched back to BBEdit, where I am writing this, and then back to Mail. I tried the same menu item in the same menu, and this time it was sticky even though it shouldn’t have been. This is maddening!)

The only way to get rid of this that I have found is to log out and log back in. It’s no big deal when you don’t have many applications/windows open, but when you do have many of them open with things in progress, it’s a pain!

I wish I could find another way to get rid of this. I wonder if there is a third-party utility involved. I have a few running on the computer, including PopChar Pro, LaunchBar, MenuMeters, Spell Catcher X, DragThing, Default Folder X, Snapz Pro X, PowerMate Driver, Super Get Info Helper, and possibly more background processes that I am not even aware of. So I don’t quite know where to start. I don’t remember when this problem started occurring, so I cannot relate it to a particular piece of software that I would have installed.

Ah, the joys of troubleshooting Mac OS X…

6 Responses to “Mac OS X: Sticky Menu Problem”

  1. Paul Ingraham says:

    You wrote: “I wonder if there is a third-party utility involved…”

    There isn’t. I’m not running a single one, because (a) I’m still configuring a brand new machine (OS 10.2.8 on a G4 1.25), and (b) I rarely install anything that plays with how the system works because I dislike the uncertainty that they introduce to troubleshooting. :-)

  2. Nicklas H says:

    I’ve got a similar problem. After a few days of uptime, the menus won’t stay open when I click them. They start so behave exactly like they used to in Mac Os 7, and it affects most or all of the menus. First it happens occasionally, but after a few hours all my menus behave in this way all the time until I reboot. I can’t find a solution to this anywhere. I also use MenuMeters, but I believe I had the problem before I installed it.

  3. Pierre Igot says:

    Personally I don’t believe it’s a third-party conflict. It’s one of those long-standing Mac OS X bugs that just won’t go away — although I must admit I haven’t experienced it lately.

  4. LemonFizz says:

    >>I?ve got a similar problem. After a few days of uptime, the menus won?t stay open when I click them

    Same here….but this is great that we now have an OS that can stay up for days at a time……

  5. Pierre Igot says:

    Haven’t experienced the sticky menu problem at all in a long while… So maybe that one has been fixed. OTOH, I have never experienced the opposite problem (menus won’t stay open), so I can’t offer any suggestions here.

  6. Nicklas H says:

    Well, since I upgraded to 10.3 I haven’t experienced the problem any more.

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