What program are you using?
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It certainly sounds like you are fighting Auto-Select (as per both Brad and cmgap). In recent versions, this is now on as a default (it has always defaulted to off in past versions) so it's catching those who recently upgraded by surprise.
Both of their screen shots show you how to disable it—select the Move tool, then head up to the Options bar and just uncheck it. This will restore the behavior that you are used to:
- First select a layer in the Layers panel
- Then drag your mouse on the image to move the selected layer
Once you feel like things are normal again, you might experiment with turning it back on. I love using it when I am shifting a bunch of layers around because I can make a layer active by just clicking it with my mouse. In any other situation, I keep it unchecked.
One more note: the Options bar uses a sticky state, meaning once it's on it stays on, and once it's off it stays off. If you really don't like it, uncheck it and you all good to go. (Until you end up deleting your preferences, which resets the defaults and turns it back on again!)
I found it, this worked perfectly. Thank you very much.