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Trackpad on MacBook Pro not working? Quick Fix

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  • 12 min read

If you are a power user and own a Macbook Pro, you know that you can’t live without the gestures on your trackpad. Be it the three-finger swipe that opens the mission control or the force click functionality, which opens new portals of information when you use it, the trackpad on the Macbook Pro is a productivity powerhouse.

Although the trackpad on the Macbook is built to perfection, just like any piece of technology, it too can fail. So what do you do when the trackpad on your Macbook pro stops responding to your touch?

Do you rush to the Apple store and pay a hefty price to fix the unresponsive input device? Or do you take matters into your hand and try to resolve the issue?

If you decide on the former, you can follow the steps given below, and your beloved trackpad might come to life. If not, you can always go to the Apple store and find the solutions to your problems.

Also read: Macbook Pro screen flickering: 10 Fixes

Why is the trackpad on your Macbook not clicking?

Now that we have restored the control of the cursor, we can look at the probable causes of having an unresponsive trackpad. Once we know why the trackpad on our device is not working, we can start looking for solutions to bring the trackpad back to life.

Firstly, it’s essential to know that all the I/O devices on your Macbook, like the display, trackpad and speakers, communicate with the operations system using drivers. If these drivers are not up to date, the trackpad on your device can have problems communicating with the operating system rendering it useless.

Another reason for a faulty trackpad could be the accumulation of dirt or grease on your trackpad. A hardware failure in your system could cause your trackpad not to click or work correctly otherwise.

A software glitch caused by a third party application could also hamper how your trackpad functions, and glitches in the power management hardware on your Macbook could cause your trackpad to function erratically.

How to navigate your Macbook without the trackpad?

Before you fix the trackpad on your device, it’s essential to be able to move the cursor on your screen without using the trackpad.

You can either connect a wired/wireless mouse to your device to do the same. If you don’t have a mouse lying around, you can use the keys on your keyboard to control the cursor on your device.

To do the same, you can follow the steps given below:

Step 1: Open the Accessibility Shortcuts on your device using the Option + Command + F5 shortcut. If you have a Macbook Pro with Touch ID, you can press the touch ID button three times to open the same.

Step 2: Once you have the accessibility panel open before you, use the tab key to reach the Mouse keys option and then press the spacebar key to enable the same.

Once you have enabled this setting, you can control the movement of the mouse using the keys given below.

Source: Apple support

In addition to this, to perform a mouse click, you can press I, and to press and hold the cursor, you can use the M key.

Also read: iPhone calls going straight to voicemail: 9 Fixes

How to fix your Macbook’s trackpad?

So, now that we know why the trackpad on your Macbook Pro is not working correctly, we can look at 11 ways to fix the problem at hand.

Look for software updates

As mentioned earlier, the drivers on your system play an integral role in how your system functions. Performing a software update on your system will update the drivers on your system, which could solve the trackpad clicking issues you are facing.

Before you update your system, it is advised that you take a backup for all your data. Doing this will protect your data if things go haywire during the update. 

Here is how to update your Macbook 

Restart your system

If you are a power user, you probably don’t restart your system that often. So, give your system a chance to breathe by restarting it and your trackpad might start functioning the way you want it to.

Here is how you can restart your Macbook

Clean your trackpad

The trackpad on your device uses small changes in static electricity to detect the position of your finger. If there is a lot of dust or grease on your trackpad, the trackpad can start acting weird.

To clean your trackpad, you can use a lightly moistened lint-free cloth. It’s important to note that the fabric you use should not have a lot of water as it could cause the water to enter your system, causing more damage.

Also read: Why is my Macbook Air fan so loud? 5 quick fixes

Check the pointer settings on your Macbook

If the trackpad settings on your system are haywire, the trackpad on your Macbook might not work properly. To change the trackpad settings on your device, you can follow the steps given below.

Step 1: Open the spotlight search on your system using the command+space shortcut and search for Trackpad.

Step 2: Click on the checkbox next to Tap to click. If the same is not enabled, your system won’t register the taps on your trackpad as a click, and if you are used to this functionality, you might be under the impression that your trackpad is malfunctioning.

Step 3: Click on the checkbox next to Secondary click; enabling this will open the menu options on a separate window, and if you are facing issues in this department, making these changes will solve things for you.

Step 4: Adjust the scroll bars below Click and Tracking speed as per your preference.

Step 5: Click on the checkbox next to Force Click and haptic feedback. Making this change will enable Quick look, and if you were facing issues with the same, this change would fix the issue at hand.

Remove all peripherals

Does the trackpad on your Macbook work fine when no external devices are connected? If that is the case, we might have a solution for you.

Your Macbook has a setting wherein the trackpad becomes unresponsive when an external mouse is connected. In some cases, your device can mistake an externally connected device for a pointing device causing the trackpad not to work. 

To solve this issue, remove all connected peripherals on your Macbook, and your trackpad will come to life. Also, you could disable the setting which is responsible for disabling the internal trackpad on detecting an external pointing device.

To do the same, you can follow the steps given below:

Step 1: Use the command + space shortcut to open Spotlight on your Macbook pro.

Step 2: Search for System Preferences and hit return.

Step 3: Click on Accessibility.

Step 4: Scroll down and click on Pointer Control.

Step 5: Uncheck the button next to Ignore built-in trackpad when mouse or wireless trackpad is present.

Step 6: If you are facing issues with double-clicking functionally on your Macbook, you can adjust the scroll bar next to Double-click speed. This would change the delay between two clicks, fixing the issue at hand.

Also read: How to cancel an order on Zomato?

Restore the default settings for your trackpad

The Mac OS operating system uses property lists (plists) to remember user preferences for specific settings. If these plists are deleted, the operating system creates new plists with default settings.

To delete plists pertaining to trackpads, you can follow the steps given below.

Step 1: Click on Go, press the option key, and click on Library.

Step 2: Doble click on Preferences.

Step 5: Search for trackpad in the search bar and click on Preferences.

Step 6: Select the following file’s and and press the command+delete shortcut to delete the files from your system.

Doing this will remove all user preferences for the trackpad on your system and restore it to default settings.

Also read: 5 Ways iBoysoft MagicMenu enhances your productivity on Mac

Check the hardware condition on your Macbook

Apple lets users run hardware diagnostics tests on their system to understand the condition of the hardware running on their Macbook.

If there is a hardware fault on your Macbook’s trackpad, this test will show you an error code, and you can take the help of an Apple care representative to solve the issue.

To understand the error code displayed on your system, click here.

You need to unplug any external devices plugged into your system apart from your external AC adapter to run the diagnostics tests.

Here is how to run a diagnostics test on your system

Reset the PRAM/NVRAM on your device

Most people are under the impression that their system does not remember things when its turned off. The truth is that your system remembers specific user settings even when it’s turned off and on a Macbook; the NVRAM/PRAM does this.

The NVRAM/PRAM is responsible for storing system configurations even when your device is turned off. In addition to sound information, the NVRAM remembers your display settings, time zone configurations, and boot drive information to help your machine start up properly. 

So, if there is a glitch in the NVRAM/PRAM, it can cause your trackpad to malfunction.

Here is how to reset the PRAM/NVRAM on your system

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Boot in safe mode

Mac OS comes with safe mode, a stripped-down version of the operating system. When in safe mode, macOS uses the bare minimum to start your Macbook.

When in safe mode, your operating system checks for errors before loading the operating system. After that, Mac OS is loaded without startup programs, third party extensions and user-installed fonts. In addition to this, the safe mode also clears the system cache.

As the safe mode is a stripped-down version of the operating system, certain glitches on your system might not appear when you are in the same.

So, if you boot in safe mode and your trackpad starts working correctly, you can assume that there is a software glitch in your system, and you can get it fixed by a professional.

Here is how you can boot into safe mode

Reset the system management controller

The system management controller(SMC) manages low-level settings like battery and thermal management. If there is a glitch in your systems’ SMC, it could cause issues with the trackpad.

Here is how to reset the system management controller on your system

Check for external damage or a swollen battery

The trackpad on your Macbook pro sits right above the battery pack, and in some cases, the battery pack on your device can get swollen up due to excessive heat. This deformation in your battery could cause issues with your trackpad.

So to see if the battery on your device is causing issues with your trackpad, you can check the battery condition on your system.

Here is how you can check the battery health on your Macbook.

If the battery condition on your Macbook is poor, there is a chance that the trackpad issues you are facing are because of the battery. So to solve this issue, you can get the battery on your Macbook replaced, and the trackpad on your device might start working like it’s supposed to.

Also read: MacBook not turning on: 7 Fixes

Nischay Khanna

A tech enthusiast, driven by curiosity. A bibliophile who loves to travel. An Engineering graduate who loves to code and write about new technologies. Can't sustain without coffee. You can contact Nischay via email:

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