Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

My program crashes when I drag the cursor too fast to copy something. How do I fix that?


Hey, Leo. Thanks for your website; it’s great! My question is this: when I drag my cursor too fast to copy something, the page crashes. How can I prevent this?

In this excerpt from Answercast #74, I look at a case where mouse movement is causing a crash. The first step in diagnosis is to clearly explain the problem!

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

Fast mouse movement causes crash

We need to start with a little bit of clarification of terminology. It’s important to realize that “pages” don’t crash. Browsers crash, programs crash, and computers crash – but “pages” don’t crash.

“Pages” are being displayed by something.

Now, since you’re using the term “pages,” I’m going to assume you mean something like a “web page.” Perhaps you’re looking at it in your web browser – and that, in fact, it’s the web browser that is going away.

The same concept can apply to other programs as well. You could be looking at a page I suppose in a PDF reader or in a Word document. In which case, any of those fall into this category of a “program” crashing.

So it’s not the page that crashed, it’s the program.

Getting tech help

I hate to be a stickler on terminology – but one of the reasons that it’s very important to use the correct terminology when referring to what’s happening with your computer is that it gives people like me a much better chance of correctly or at least more closely, answering the real question – answering the real problem that you’re presenting.

Like I said, pages don’t crash; programs and computers do (and sometimes a little too often!)

The program that you’re running? I don’t know what it is. It could be a browser; it could be a word processor; it could be a PDF reader; it could be any number of things.

Program crashes

If it’s the program that goes away, then the first thing that I would do is I would actually make sure you are running the most recent version of that program.

Very often, there can be bugs in the software that manifest like this. This bug sounds kind of serious (I’m kind of surprised it made it out), but that kind of bug is often fixed in revisions of the software: revisions that have come out, perhaps, after you’ve purchased, or acquired, your copy.

Browser fixes

Similarly, if you’re looking at a browser, specifically, one of the first things I would do is go in and turn off the add-ons in that browser. Those add-ons could be what has the bug. They are things you can turn off! If turning off the add-ons makes this problem go away, then you can start re-enabling them one at a time to see which one it is that (once you re-enable it) causes that problem to come back.

So that’s the first, program-level, way of looking at this.

Computer crashing

If in fact it’s your computer that ends up crashing (or rebooting or going down), the very first thing I would try actually is your display driver.

The mouse and the display driver have a very interesting and low-level interaction with each other. It is very possible that issues with either (though typically it’s the video driver) can cause odd behavior like this – behavior that causes the computer to crash.

In fact, it is conceivable, given the various protection models that are in place (for whatever version of Windows you’re running) that the video driver could cause the application (again, whatever application that is) to crash.

It’s worth looking at your video driver. Make sure that the drivers for your video card are as up-to-date as possible.

Those are two directions I would send you off in:

  1. Make sure you’re running the latest version of whatever program it is that’s crashing;
  2. And make sure you’re running the latest drivers for your video card (if getting the latest version of the program that’s crashing doesn’t solve your problem.)

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

3 comments on “My program crashes when I drag the cursor too fast to copy something. How do I fix that?”

  1. Thanks for another great article, Leo.

    I have a similar type of issue since I started using a new computer, now Windows 7 instead of XP.
    When I open a new browser page, it does not open on top, and I have to click on the icon in the taskbar to bring up the new page. I use “ctrl and N” as I no longer have an icon in the far left of the taskbar like I did with XP to use to open a new browser page.
    Also, just moving the mouse across the page highlights everything blue.
    Is there an easy fix? I have tried adjusting the mouse sensitivity.

  2. wish i had an answer but same type problem is all i have – any program or game, seems like the cursor hasnt enough ‘power’ to make a real full clik..wont drag, items or overfills items (too much) IDK, new win7 ult installation too…

  3. Ha, ha! When you said, “the mouse and the display driver have a very interesting and low-level interaction with each other,” I thought back to the old days: Perhaps the IRQ of the serial port is conflicting with the video card. These days, I don’t think it would be that, but it did bring back memories of trying to troubleshoot IRQ conflicts given that there were only 15 IRQ slots and a full computer would use most of them.

    If that really does turn that this is the problem, I would suggest a newer computer. Ha, ha.


Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.