If you select the Move tool, Auto select appears as a tick box left side of the Options bar. If you later foget that it is active, and wonder why things have gone weird on you, just turn it off again.
That was the one!!! I totally overlooked it. Thanks!
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ctrl-alt-clicking should also work when the Option is unchecked.
Or ctrl-clicking to select one from a list of Layers with content at that position.
When I tried your solution I found out that using Ctrl the appropriate layer ia selected, Alt copies the layer, Ctrl+Alt behaves the same as just Alt.
But using the Ctrl key is an easy way to accomplish what I wanted, too.
By the way, right-clicking with the Move Tool selected will give you that list of layers as well, if it makes it a little easier (not having to use the other hand).