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Sorry for beginner's question. I sometimes find myself modeling in layout mode and am unable to access any of the tools or select any of the mesh. I must have pressed something or locked something.

Here is what my screen looks like in this situation:

enter image description here

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You seem to have unvoluntarily disabled Viewport overlays and gizmos (these are all the contour lines, widgets, grids, basically everything that is not renderable geometry). To re-enable them, press these buttons in the top-right corner of your 3D viewport:

enter image description here

The little arrows next to them let you selectively enable/disable elements.

If that's not your issue, maybe it is that you want to enter the Edit Mode?

There are 3 ways to access it:

  1. On the top-left corner of your screenshot, you can see 'Object Mode'. Click on it and select Edit Mode
  2. While your cursor is on the 3D Viewport and your object(s) is/are selected, hit Ctrl + tab. A pie menu appears: select Edit Mode
  3. Still while your cursor is on the 3D Viewport, hit the tab key : it toggles between Edit and Object mode
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