How to Fix Drag and Drop Problems in XP

Won’t happen to many of you, but here’s what to do if you suddenly find that you can’t drag and drop stuff in Windows XP.

First off, don’t panic. There’s lots of pages out there suggesting you have a virus. Not impossible, but unlikely.

Second, check that you haven’t got your escape key stuck. Do this either physically—something may be wedging it down—or else virtually—a program may have set it as on. This has happened to lots of people, if this post is anything to go by.

If that doesn’t work for you, try this.

Download this ZIP file from here.

What you’re going to do is change your registry, so back it up first.

Open the files inside the Zip.

The one you need is the dragndropx.reg.

Once you’re backed up, double click on it, and select yes from the resulting dialog:


Your registry should now be fixed.

Try dragging something—an icon, a file, some text—and you should be good to go.

(Note: I have a feeling this problem is caused by overzealous registry cleaners.)

If you’re still having problems, you may have something more serious: Run a good virus scan as your next step. If there’s still a problem, then it could be your mouse driver. Here’s some more (mostly inconclusive) chat about this.

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Jeremy Wagstaff

Jeremy Wagstaff is Chief Technology Correspondent, Asia, for Thomson Reuters. He has worked as a reporter, editor and columnist for Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, the Far Eastern Economic Review and the BBC. . He has lived and worked in Asia since 1987 and is currently based in Singapore.

Categories hard101 Comments

101 thoughts on “How to Fix Drag and Drop Problems in XP”

  1. I have the same issue but it is intermittent. If I reboot, I can drag & drop… for a while. It seems to me that there must be a program that I run that causes the problem. At first I thought it might be Roxio RecordNow but I turn it off/disable and the problem eventually shows up. I have run just about every spyware/virus program available. Running XP SP2.

  2. I lost the drag and drop function after using a registry cleaner. This worked perfectly to restore the function. Thanks so much.

  3. Oh my god! After 12 hours of trying to figure out what was wrong with a particular program, as well as the drag and drop not working, i searched online for possible answers, finding this posting. Yes!!!!! It was the Escape Key that was stuck. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Felt silly (tho’ obviously not alone in this) but very pleased.

  4. thank you very much for you advice. I was just about to through out my tower but now thanks to you I can still use in.

    thnk you again.

  5. I’m not able to drag & move any word inside a letter form of WLM & OE nor to drag in any text or url , i can drag out a text from them only to a blog comment box but not the contrary and not to another letter form , so how to restore this malfunction , your help will be very appreciated thanks in advance , GOD bless who step forward first , best regards

  6. there’s an even easier way to fix drag and drop problem for windows xp. i have tried all suggestions and it didn’t work for me…this one does and it’s so easy….JUST UPDATE YOUR INTERNET EXPLORER TO THE LATEST VERSION!!! It’s that simple…it worked for me!!!

    1. Hazel Darling ,

      Thank you for your reply , Drag&Drop problem exist [ Only ]
      in WLmail & outlook Express, outlook office 2007 is out of question i can D&Drop everything also every icon on the screen no problem , no way to drag anything to WLM & nor inside a letter page as to move a word or a phrase by changing it’s place or to drag an URL into that letter , I can drag out but not in , thank you again for your help I’m trying to download the latest version of IE even if i don’t like it , I prefer Google chrome

  7. Cannot believe I could overlook something so simple at the escape key sticking. I have done near about everything to fix the D&D problem, and there it was, the escape key was stuck in the engaged position. Now everything is fine. That fixed a lot of other problems I’ve been having as well. Thanks you for helping find the simple problem and simple solution.

  8. Can’t believe it was the escape key. My wife’s desk is so cluttered I missed that. Spent 2 hours trying to do stuff till I hit this site. Man am I embarrassed. Thanks.

  9. The DragNdropx.reg file did not help my situation.

    The drag failure occurs only on the desktop. Drag & Drop works just fine in Windows Explorer and PowerDesk windows.

    Most Odd.

  10. I have a question:

    If the problem with Drag and Drop should turn out to be due to a stuck Escape key, and presuming the reason for the key being stuck is not physical (book, CD, strawberry jam, etc.) is there a means by which the user can choose to disable to Escape key (using Windows driver for XP)?

  11. My escape key is seldom used, and is not stuck.

    I tried the registry fix DragNDropx.reg – It did not help. I am careful about avoiding over-zealous registry cleaning, as anyone should be.

    I have scanned with MalwareBytes AntiMalware, Spybot S & D, SuperAntiSpyware, Threatfire, Avast antivirus with no malware found.

    The most puzzling thing is – the issue is only with the desktop itself. There is no drag & drop issue with desktop windows within Windows Explorer or PowerDesk 7.

    Any other ideas?

  12. Holy crap!! I tried everything from Group Policy to Taskbar settings… I can’t believe it was just my stupid Esc key…

  13. Drag & Drop stopped completely, installed the dragndropx.reg’ and it all worked again nicely.
    3 days later stops working again on desktop only.
    And my ‘escape button’ looks fine…
    So I hit ‘escape ‘ a few times just to be sure.
    POW! everything working again!
    The keyboard is about 5 years old, so maybe its worn out.
    Either that or traditional pushing marmalade between the keys to appease the ‘Pooter gods isn’t working…

  14. Thanks for the advice,
    downloaded the zip folder and followed the instructions as indicated above. Now I’m able to drag and drop files and folders again
    OS: Win XP-Pro SP3

  15. U are a Semi-God to me !

    I was about to format my system cos i have also tried all the stupid referrals on Google but none worked, It took me 2 hours to find this forum and alas it was simply my ESC button.

    Thanks Ya’ll – Great Day !

    U should all try erricsson labs free sms api anytime. 1000sms for free per api accounts ( works for any country..

  16. its not working for me!!!!!!! i tried the registry, the ESC button, virus scan. virus scan came out w/ nothing, registry went it but still, make sure that the ESC button wasnt wedge, presses it like a maniac, and still! SOMEONE HELP ME!

  17. Pressing the Escape key worked for me too!
    Here’s the weird part though:
    This happens on my XP notebook and my Vista desktop.
    I know for a fact that neither Esc key is stuck.
    It happens randomly several times while I’m using either
    computer. Whatever the problem is, it effects Photoshop as well ( can’t open files or do anything else ).
    The only thing they have in common is they both
    run Prevx 3 (antivirus).
    Unfortunately to uninstall and reinstall it I’d have to contact the company and have them reset the license.
    Until I figure out what’s going on I guess I’ll just
    keep pressing the Escape key……

  18. I have a similar problem….

    Your solution did not work for me…

    The regfile does nothing and the ESC key is not stucked, I can activate it while dragging an icon and the icon is released.

    My problem (even if I guess you don’t know the answer) is that I can drag the icon/file, when it is released nothing happens, I get no copy of it, I cant move it to a different folder, if I drag it and hit the RMB no menu pops up, but if I hit the RMB not dragging it the menu shows, I can hit CTRL while selecting icon and drag, but I get no copy, however I can copy the icon with RMB menu, then on folder/desktop area copy it with CTRL+V

    I can drag an icon to an exefile but nothing happens…


    on the welcome screen I can select my name, and the little icon is selected, but the bigger rectangular area outside the loginicon does not shows up, neither is it possible to login with the mouse, I can however activate the bigger rectangular area outside the loginicon with arrowkeys(up/down) and press spacebar…

    do you perhaps know what could cause this strange behaviour?

    1. Hasse, it might be a problem with the mouse–either the driver, or something mechanical. Have you tried replacing it or reinstalling the driver? Alternatively, try booting into safe mode and seeing whether you have the same problem. If you don’t then, there’s probably a driver conflict. If you do, it could be a virus.

  19. Unbelievable!
    I tried whatever I’ve could but nothing happened.
    And finally this patch worker for me in a few seconds.
    Drag n Drop is back to my computer, finally.
    Thanks a lot.

  20. You are frickin kidding me… I’ve spent a day swimming through registry settings, reading page after page about all sorts of keys or viruses or malware, and you nail it in the second sentence on your page! Who knew a sticky escape key could be so crippling!!!!!!!

    Thanks for the tip 😉


  21. Figured out what was causing mine:
    I have Logitech SetPoint configured so that the back button on the mouse is mapped to the Escape key for FastStone image viewer. If I use it that way, drag and drop as well as other things stop working correctly. If I just press the Esc key to exit the image viewer everything keeps working normally. Doesn’t seem to make any difference which version of SetPoint I use or which version of Windows. It happens on XP-x32 Vista-x64 and Windows 7-x64.

  22. I can drag and drop but there are multiple images of the window left behind in a series of half seen panes; the images gradually catch up with the pane and the window itself is unaffected. I have sufficient disc space, I have cleaned everything up and they are still there; any ideas?

  23. Like Shawn, I had my escape key mapped to exit an image viewer; in my case irfanView.

    If it weren’t for this webpage, I doubt if I would ever have found the solution.

    So: thanx!!!

  24. Hey guys!

    I’ve been having this problem for AGES!!
    I used to search for hours for the solution, but never found anything that works.

    After this happened twice to me today (I rebooted from frustration), I decided it was time to look again.
    Changing the registry in the way some people describe never worked for me, but I just found…

    …THE SOLUTION!!!!!!

    I use CCleaner, which is a pretty cool program. And it’s interesting that the author of this post puts possible blame on these, which is understandable.
    All I did was run CCleaner (select ‘yes’ to back up), and BINGO! I can now drag and drop! 😀

    Hope this helps some more people!

  25. I had this problem also and it was driving me crazy. It turns out that all I had to do was PUSH THE “INSERT” KEY once and the problem went away. Don’t ask me why the insert key affects drag-and-drop functionality!

  26. Esc button was stuck… i feel like an idiot now .. thanks lol
    thanks for helping, the word “FORMAT” had already entered into my mind

  27. Dear, I have to stop drag and drop in my Pc to avoid accidental drag and drop.please help both in xp & Windows 7

  28. Hmm, it didn’t appear stuck, but pressing down a few times on the escape key has restored drag and drop functionality 🙂
    Thank you!

  29. Thank you – this worked fine. Cured the problem both in Explorer windows AND in Thunderbird (when dragging an email into another folder).

  30. Hello all,
    Thank you for trying to fix this problem.
    With XP+SP3+Internet Explorer8 : no way to move or copy with drag and drop neither on desktop neither in folders.
    Your reg files don’t solve the problem.
    Finally changing the PS2 mouse by an USB one works perflectly.

  31. Thank you for “check that you haven’t got your escape key stuck.” I’ve been through all kinds of pages suggesting running SFC, loading registry patches, scanning for viruses, doing system restores…yours was the only one that prompted me to mess with the ESC key, which solved my problem.

  32. Dear All,
    after trying to figure out the drag and drop mails issue I found your posting. Yes!!!!! 😀
    It was the Escape (Esc) Key that was stuck.
    Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. ACtualy i had this issue…read alot of things all over the net…yes keyboards with a key stuck can do this….alot of people thnking a virus or a registry fix to also the drag and drop function being unchecked….

    For me i found the issue….as weird as it sounds…microsoft did a strange update and updated my machine with intellimouse software….thats for a special microsoft mouse that uses blue tooth connections….becasue i did not have that type of mouse it messed up my machine….their update to the drivers was wrong…..i found if i turned off the intellimouse things running i could agin click and drag things…nice mess up from microsoft.

  34. I couldn’t drag objects (windows, forms, shortcuts), nor could I highlight text – so frustrating.
    I uninstalled loads of stuff including service packs and the problem?

    My mouse which has various programmable buttons!

    Great post – so relieved after months of searching for a solution.

  35. Just fixed the DnD problem using your exe. It was simple and worked fine. Did the reg. backup as suggested.
    Great Job
    A4Companies – Sydney Australia

  36. mostly DnD works. but when i drag a file to a printer, or use right-clik send to printer, the printer doesnt print.

    if i open the file normally and select the print, the printer works fine.

    any ideas appreciated.



  37. Thank you so much my esc key was stuck. In a million years I wouldn’t have thought I’d have missed something that simple.

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