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Mac Yellow Minimize Button Grayed Out

Posted: Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 11:54 amUpdated: Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 11:54 am

There’s one annoying problems with my Mac laptop. When I’m at work, I connect to external monitor and work on both built-in monitor on my laptop and the external monitor. When I go home I unplug the external monitor, close the lid and let the laptop goes to sleep. Once in a while, when I got back to work, I plug it in again and some of my running programs can’t be minimized anymore. I mean the yellow minimize button is grayed out or disabled. If I close the application and start it again, the minimize button appears again. However, having to close the applications and launched it again is such an inconvenient.

Here’s the screen shot of my minimize buttons when I have the problem.
Grayed-out minimize button on Firefox.

Grayed-out minimize button on Adium.

Grayed-out minimize button on SmartSVN.

I kept Googling and finally I found this post in a forum. So strangely enough, the problem is due to a bug in QuickTime. And sure enough, most of the time, I have QuickTime on anyway.

How to get back your minimize button without closing the window and reopening it.

Here’s the step:

  1. On QuickTime, open a new movie.
  2. Make the movie full screen. (You can do Apple-f or from the menu, click on View -> Enter Full Screen.
  3. Exit from full screen movie and close it.
  4. Now check your other windows. You should get your yellow minimize button back.

11 Responses to “Mac Yellow Minimize Button Grayed Out”

  1. Robert Clark Says:

    Thanks for posting this. This fixed the issue for me, and it has to be the 10th time I faced it without a resolution.

  2. marco Says:

    Thanks for this post. It’s a life saver.

    I’m still confused on how can one application absolutely kills a Window Server feature. Sounds like really dirty coding to me.

  3. Pasques Says:

    It’s not a bug in Quicktime, but probably a bug in the OS. I get the same issues when I pop out of full screen mode in Citrix. Quicktime fixes the problem, but I doubt it’s the problem.

  4. straycat Says:

    this bug started in leopard. i’m on snow leopard and this bug is still on.
    as pasques says quicktime fixes it but doesn’t provoke it.
    from what i’ve noticed it’s related any app that goes in and out of fullscreen (in my case, movist, which uses its own fmpeg engine). when and which apps exactly get the minimize button greyed out? can’t tell.
    with the latest 10.6.3, i started getting a new bug where a mouse click sometimes doesn’t click and sometimes does a double click. i don’t believe it’s a problem with my mouse since it works well most of the time.

    the pc had mean bugs, but the mac has the most silly ones.

  5. Ronnie Says:

    It didn’t work for me.. I followed your directions to the T…and nothing.. sucks!….

  6. msarowski Says:

    I have this issue, only with Chrome, on a brand new Macbook Air running OSX 10.9.4. Never running Quicktime. Any suggestions will be appreciated!


  7. MIke Says:

    I just ran into this issue as well. Instead of maximizing a Quicktime window, I had iPhoto up so I made that full-screen, then exited. Minimize button was back! It seems to do that randomly with any app you make full-size.

  8. Carrie Says:

    I followed the directions for Quicktime and then tried it with iPhoto. It’s not helping. This is a really annoying problem!

  9. Josh Adams Says:

    I just had this issue with Chrome and after some searching, ended up at this blog post. I tried the QuickTime approach but no voodoo magic there. But inspired by the approach here, I tried that makes a lot more sense as a solution: I went to a page in Chrome with a video, made the video full screen, and then escaped out of full screen; when I did this, the minimize buttons were instantly back.

    Incidentally, there’s a bigger issue that comes along with this one (I honestly don’t minimize windows too much so didn’t even notice that capability had disappeared until I was trying to deal with this bigger issue): the ribbon doesn’t work right. In my case, I have the “Automaticaly hide and show the Dock” option set and with that on, the ribbon is just simply not available in Chrome when this issue is present (fortunately, command + tab still lets you switch to another program).

  10. onon Says:

    Hi People,

    I just figured it out. Just go to view and press exit fullscreen on each window that you’ve opened.

  11. Don Copeland Says:

    It’s a pain in the ass at first blush. Fortunately, it’s simple to solve. Minimize Google Chrome when the minimize button is grayed-out by clicking the green button. Counter-intuitive but simple. Mac seems to delight in back-asswards.

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