Edit: After half day, my wife’s Mac started having the same problem. I have then applied the solution that I found in the Apple
Background Windows Tricks
How to manipulate background windows without Activating Them
While one may not be able to work with background windows as thoroughly as the ones at the front, the fact is background windows are more than just dormant graphics. You can manipulate their content without bringing them to the front, as easily as using them when they are at the front. Functions such as dragging, minimizing, maximizing, moving, scrolling et al can be done without losing your place in the active document and what more with equal efficiency.
Let’s have a look at what all can be accomplished with background windows without disturbing the active windows.
Minimize, maximize, or close a background window
Many a times you need to scour through many windows. While it may be necessary to perform a certain task, it is not uncommon to find many windows in the background without any relevance to the current job.
To organize such a clutter, simply click on the Close (red) or Minimize (yellow) button of the background window and bam! you get rid of them as quickly as 1-2-3. You can identify the active buttons once the pointer hovers it.
Repositioning background windows
It must have happened to you when you are researching on net and using MS Word to write an article or learning through online tutorials that you find one window obscuring another. While you may click to drag the obscured window and click back in MS Word to start typing, you can accomplish similar task without deactivating MS Word. Simply press Command Key and drag the background window to a position that its content is visible completely and you get both windows .
Though we cited an example of MS Word- browser window combination, you can try this trick on different applications or even multiple windows within one application.
Resizing the background window
While repositioning may get you close to a near-ideal scenario of being able to read the content on both windows, sometimes you may be required to scroll down or right to expose the complete content. This can be easily avoided by resizing the window such that it displays the entire information you are interested in. You can do this in Finder by holding the Command key and clicking on the Zoom button (green) or by simply dragging the size box.
While this trick works in TextEdit, Preview and Pages (Apple programs), it does not work everywhere. Few exceptions to this trick are Microsoft Word or Excel, Adobe Creative Suite. The Zoom button works, without the Command Key, in Abode InDesign and Photoshop CS4 and with the Command Key in CS5 Photoshop.
Going Back Or Changing The List View In Finder Background Windows
Do you want to see the content on background Finder window in Icon or List view or browse to the previous content? Well, then there is a way out for this as well.
Simply hold down the Command key and move to the toolbar area of the background window. Click on the view button or either of the Forward/back buttons to change the way content is listed or to go to the previous content. This tricks works even when you have a foreground window, which doesn’t belong to Finder. This trick works for most such basic functions.
Scrolling in the Background Window
You need to scroll a lot especially when you are researching or comparing two documents. While multiple windows can be hard to manage, here is the trick that can help you in scrolling in background window without deactivating the foreground window.
Simply hover on the area of the background window you want to scroll and use the scroll button of your mouse to scroll. This works for trackpads that let you scroll by using two fingers.
Scrolling like this works even with programs such as MS Word, which don’t allow scrolling in its own background windows. You can scroll background windows that belong to other applications. For example in a combination of Word and Finder window, you can scroll the Finder window.
Tip: What will you do when your hardware doesn’t support scrolling? Well it’s simple again. Simply hold down the Command key and move to the windows scroll bar. Drag it down or up, left or right for scrolling the window. You may do this by clicking as well.
Moving Items From Or To The Background Windows
Do you want to organize files in between folders or transfer multimedia files from an external drive to the hard disk?
Well, then there is no need to keep clicking on the background window to activate it and copy paste the content to the desired location. Simply arrange the windows in a way that their content is visible. Now drag the file from either window and place it on another. Keep in mind not to stop while dragging or dropping the content from the background window or it gets activated.
If you find that each time you drop the content background window gets activated, then check your spring-load setting.
If you want to control how a background window behaves when a file is dropped into it, use Finder preferences and Spring-Loaded Folders. Use the Windows checkbox to deactivate the window from coming to the forefront or vice versa. If you deactivate, tabbing the space bar will get your background to the front.
Here is the work flow: Choose Finder. Move on to Preferences. In the General tab, check Spring loaded Folders and Windows.
This trick works in many applications as well as in between applications. It’s handy as well. Imagine working in a graphic and imaging application such as Photoshop and picking up files from different windows. Imagine how cluttered it will become if all background windows came to the front while dragging. With spring load setting, you can stop this from happening.