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Another person having this issue, here is some additional information if a developer comes across this thread:
Mine happens always switching from space 2 to space 1. I have iTunes assigned to space 2.
I can avoid it by always switching from 2 to 3 to 4 and back to 1. Yes, it's silly.
Killing the dock process always fixes it for me.
This seems to be the site to report this feedback to Apple: http://www.apple.com/feedback/macosx.html
This problem has to do with shifting between spaces using the keyboard shortcut combinations Ctl-Left/Right Arrows. I didn't have this problem until I started using these shortcuts a couple of days ago.
* Spaces' overlay graphic stays on the screen. Strangely, it disappears when clicking on the active-window title area.
* Keyboard is locked to most operations (text input, most shortcuts). It may unlock if scrolling with Fn-Up/Down Arrows several times (see below).
The problem may be recreated as in the following scenario (but it is not restricted to it):
1. Open Finder in Space 1.
2. Open Safari or Firefox on Space 2. Go to a scrollable web page (e.g. a Wikipedia article several pages long).
3. Scroll up and down the web page in quick succession using Fn-Up/Down Arrows several times (e.g. 4-6).
4. Immediately shift left/right in quick succession between spaces 1 and 2 using Ctl-Left/Right Arrows several times (e.g. 4-6). The problem appears.
5. If the operation in step 3 above (scrolling the web page up and down) is repeated immediately after the problem disappears.
I thought I'd chip in here because I get exactly this problem on my MacMini with SnowLeopard... and I don't even use Spaces or have it enabled. My BlueTooth keyboard would not respond nor would Remote Desktop's Keyboard entry even though both are fine with mouse control - even getting a text-cursor would not work in input boxes. Some UI elements also don't work or get a focus - e.g. ActivityMonitor being able to select a row.
When this has happened on my machine I've gone into Activity Monitor and seen FrontRow taking ~100% CPU. Because I can't select a row I can't kill it directly.
SSH'ing into the box and then killing the FrontRow process and everything comes back to life instantly. (ps -Al | grep FrontRow then kill the process id for it)
I'm wondering if this is part of Apple's full-screen/switching code can leave the keyboard attached to a different screen/desktop.
Never saw this prior to Snow Leopard.
Same problem as originally stated, I dont have Things, it happens randomly. Usually flipping between MS Power point, Word and Chrome.
Also open, adobe updater, divvy, istat & insomnia (anyone else have these open with the problem)?
It doesn't happen on any particular space.
I use cmd+arrow to switch and have a spaces box 4(width)X3(height)
I'm fairly a newcomer to the Apple/Mac/OS X world. I'm experiencing the issue also with 10.6.5. I'm using some virtualization engines (VMWare Fusion, Virtualbox; for the moment I will test them, preferring Virtualbox if it's possible because it's free), using Spaces and switching the spaces mainly via Ctrl + <number> shortcut.
From my point of view, this is NOT fixed with 10.6.5. I've seen you suggested some workarounds to stop keyboard locks, I will try them as soon as the issue repeats.
For the moment, thanks a lot and regards,
I am running 10.6.5 on a late model 2006 Macbook. I do not use spaces. I do however use VMWare fusion. The keyboard that becomes unresponsive is a Logitech illuminated LED keyboard (no osx support from logitech) The internal keyboard and my bluetooth keyboard still respond but the logitech will stop at random. I can unplug and replug and this will solve the issue. I do have it connected through a USB hub. There is nothing that will trigger the keyboard to lose response other than just not using it for a while and then trying to later. They keyboard still illuminates and will give caps on/off indication.
I'm running 10.6.5 and still experiencing this issue, though amusingly I can't recall ever having it occur with anything pre-10.6.5. My work machine is a Late 2008 MBP, it happens daily. Putting the laptop to sleep or killing the dock fixes it for me. At home I have a Mid 2010 i7 MBP and have never had it happen there.
A lot of people are throwing out possible software correlations but having read through this entire thread, I don't see any. It's easy to say 'oh, it seems to happen most after I use ARD' (which it does, for me), but I'd say it's an OS bug.
Basically, Spaces and the Dock are grabbing the keyboard and preventing other apps from recognizing its input. If you take a look at the keyboard viewer while the problem's happening, the OS does recognize the keys you're pressing.
I guess I'll start troubleshooting plists, but this seems to be more than 'ongoing'.