How annoying is it when your left mouse button stops working? You change the batteries, bang it on your desk a few times, and curse at the technology gods — but it’s to no avail. All you can do to get it working again is to restart your machine.
If you’re in the middle of something and you’ve got lots windows open, it’s hugely frustrating. You lose your concentration and have to spend 10 minutes waiting for everything to shut down and reboot.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There are steps you can take to get your left mouse button working again. Here are seven of the most common fixes.
Problem: Cannot Click the Start Button
After Microsoft made the (entirely sensible) decision to bring back the Start menu in Windows 10, it has once again become the central hub for launching apps and managing your system. If you can’t click on it, it’s going to be a problem.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. A whole litany of things could have gone wrong under the hood. Here is a range of fixes that have worked for most users.
Create a New User Profile
You need to establish whether the problem is unique to your user account or a system-wide issue.
Make a temporary new local account by navigating to Start > Settings > Accounts > Family and Other People > Add Someone Else to This PC. The app will ask you for the new user’s sign-in details and name.
Log into the new profile. Can you left-click on Start? If so, your primary user account has probably become corrupted. If it still didn’t work, you can skip the first fix.
Fix 1: Corrupted User Profile
Try copying all your user data to a new profile. You need at least three profiles (your new one, your corrupted one, and one extra) on your machine to undertake this process.
Log onto the extra one. All the following steps need to be done from the “spare” account.
Firstly, open File Explorer and ensure both the hidden files and folders and the protected operating system files are viewable. If you cannot see them, go to View > Options > View and make the necessary adjustments.
Next, navigate to C:\Users\[Corrupted Username] and select all the files except Ntuser.dat, Ntuser.dat.log, and Ntuser.ini. Copy the files and paste them into C:\Users\[New Username].
Finally, log off and sign into your new account. Once you’ve verified everything is working, you can delete the spare account and the corrupted account.
Fix 2: Corrupted Windows Data
If you still couldn’t use the left mouse button on your new profile, it’s indicative that something has gone wrong within Windows itself. One of the most common culprits is a corrupted Windows Update.
To test for the presence of corrupted Windows files, you need to run PowerShell. If you cannot access the Start menu, you can search for “PowerShell” in the search bar. If the search bar is also out of action, access it by going to Task Manager (Ctrl + Alt + Delete) > File > Run New Task, typing PowerShell, and hitting Enter.
Next, you need to run the System File Checker tool. Type sfc /scannow and press Enter. You’ll see one of three results: either Windows did not find any integrity violations, Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and repaired them, or Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some (or all) of them.
In the case of the latter, type DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth and press Enter. PowerShell will re-download any corrupted files. It could take a long time, so be patient.
Fix 3: Delete Recently Installed Apps and Drivers
Have you recently installed any new Windows apps from the Windows Store or downloaded any new software? It could be the culprit. Similarly, an automated program update could have caused the issue.
Right-click on the Start menu and open Programs and Features. Delete any apps that you’ve recently installed, any apps that have recently received automatic updates, and any apps you no longer use. Restart your machine and see if the problem is solved.
In a comparable vein, lots of users have pointed to errant drivers causing the problem. The most common culprit appears to be printer drivers.
Delete your existing drivers by heading to Start > Settings > Devices > Printers and Scanners. Click on the printer you want to delete, and hit Remove.
Fix 4: Delete and Reinstall Your Antivirus
As is often the way with technology, the simplest solution is the right solution. Something as straightforward uninstalling and reinstalling your antivirus suite could solve your issues.
To be fair, antivirus apps are surprisingly complex pieces of software. Occasionally, they detect false positives or black-flag harmless processes. Panda Anti-Virus seems to pop up more often than most. If you’re using Panda, this could be your problem.
Before you completely uninstall and reinstall, you can soft-test whether this is the issue. Disconnect from the internet and temporarily disable any third-party security suites. You can also try booting into Safe Mode to exclude software issues.
Fix 5: Hard Reset Your Computer
Hard resetting your machine is not good practice and should be done sparingly. That said, many users have reported that it fixes a non-functioning left mouse button.
Performing a hard reset (also known as a hard crash) is easy. If you’re on a desktop without a battery, pull out the power lead. If you’re on a laptop, pull the power cord and the battery. In both cases, you need to be logged into a user account on the PC before executing the reset.
Problem: Can’t Use the Left Mouse Button Anywhere
Hopefully, the five fixes listed above will have solved the issue if you cannot click on the Start menu. Even if your mouse isn’t working at all, it’s still worth trying the solutions I’ve already covered before moving on to the next two.
Fix 6: Update Mouse Drivers
Drivers are still Windows 10’s Achilles heel. It’s not Microsoft’s fault; you can point the finger of blame at hardware manufacturers for failing to provide the necessary data.
Given these issues, it’s prudent to make sure your mouse drivers are up-to-date. Right-click on the Start Menu and then choose Device Manager. Don’t worry: you can also use the right-click button to make your selection.
Next, use your keyboard arrows to scroll down to your mouse entry and press Enter. The Properties window will open.
Use Tab and the arrow keys to navigate to the Driver tab and select Update Drivers. Windows will take care of the rest.
Problem: Cannot Drag-and-Drop
What if everything is working except drag-and-drop? If you’ve already worked through the six fixes and you’re still encountering the issue, you can temporarily enable ClickLock.
Fix 7: Enable ClickLock
ClickLock lets you drag-and-drop files and folders using single mouse clicks, rather than having to hold down the left mouse button physically.
To turn it on, go to Start > Settings > Devices > Mouse and Touchpad > Related Settings > Additional Mouse Settings.
The Mouse Properties window will pop up. At the bottom of the Buttons tab, you’ll see the ClickLock options. Put a tick in the checkbox to enable it. Clicking on Settings will allow you to customize your ClickLock preferences.
Still Not Working?
Did none of these fixes work? You did remember to check the mouse batteries, didn’t you?
Of course, your mouse itself might be faulty. Try using a wired mouse of a friend or colleague on your machine and see if the problem vanishes. Also, it’s always worth thoroughly cleaning your mouse. Dust can quickly build-up inside its electronic components.
If one of these fixes did work, I’d love to know which one. You can leave your feedback in the comments down below.
Image Credit: Feng Yu via Shutterstock.com