How To: Install multitouch trackpad in non unibody white MacBooks

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Tartarus, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. Tartarus macrumors member

    Feb 15, 2012
    well, 100% of people i asked here said it could not be done, but i have succeeded in installing a multitouch trackpad in a non unibody white macbook

    this guide works to all MacBooks 2007 and newer
    there are 2 routes to this project, i prefer the latter, because though it involves removing the top case, its much easier in my opinion.

    Things you'll need:
    1. a trackpad assembly from a 2008 (MUST BE 2008) Non-unbody (MUST BE NON-UNIBODY) macbook pro (see image below)
    2. screwdrivers (for route 2)
    3. hair dryer
    4. knife of some sort ( used my pocketknife)
    5. time, patience, and a steady hand.

    ok, route 1.

    remove the battery of your macbook
    you should see where the trackpad is located on the underside of the top case.

    remove the plastic flap very carefully.

    now carefully (CAREFULLY) remove the ribbon cables by lifting up on the clamps of the connectors, and pulling the cables out

    now before taking out this trackpad you should take the trackpad assembly that you are going to put in the macbook and using the hair dryer and knife gently remove JUST the trackpad part like this [​IMG]

    so it looks like this

    discard (or keep) the rest of the assembly, we are just using the trackpad

    now that you have done it on the trackpad, its time to swap them.

    do the same with the macbooks trackpad, just try pushing it out thru the hole
    (DO NOT under any circumstance, remove the button, it will NEVER click properly again if you do)

    then once that is out, simply place the new trackpad back into the empty slot, making sure its correctly aligned.
    then reconnect the ribbon cables (VERY CAREFULLY, the gold wiring on the white ribbon cable likes to peel off, i almost had to buy a new top case but luckilly i was able to fold it back over.)

    now boot up and enjoy! it should come up right from boot with being able to use gestures( this is in lion/mountain lion, im not sure about snow leopard)

    Route 2

    this is the route i took, i wasnt comfortable pushing the trackpad out so i removed the top case and used my knife to lift it of the adhesive.

    remove the top case (google it)

    then basically do what the above steps for route 1 say.

    then reassemble the macbook, boot and enjoy!

    the finished product should look like this
  2. Orange Furball macrumors 65816

    Orange Furball

    May 18, 2012
    Scranton, PA, USA
    You should have taken the MacBook to Apple to replace the top case first.

    Nice mod though!
  3. charlieegan3 macrumors 68020


    Feb 16, 2012
    Ha, i thought you were going to ask how to do this, i was going to say don't bother.

    so good for you, nice mod.
  4. Tartarus thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 15, 2012
    the nearest apple store is an hour and a half drive from here, when my truck gets 15 mpg tops, its not worth it when it still functions

    and thanks!

    the trackpads are actually really cheap on ebay, about $25 is what i paid, thats over twice as cheap as a magic trackpad
  5. DaKKs macrumors 6502

    Aug 15, 2012
    Stockholm, Sweden
    This can't be done on an early 2006, right? I hear the connectors are different.
  6. gumblecosby macrumors 6502

    Jun 22, 2010
    Fantastic work. Well done. I would love to see a video of it in action.
  7. jkoneal macrumors newbie

    Dec 12, 2012
    Cool!!!! :)

    I can not find trackpads on eBay, just some complete upper housings: (

    Can anyone tell me a seller?

    Thank you.
  8. magicman911 macrumors newbie

    Dec 15, 2012
    Ok, so I have nowhere to turn for questions but here.

    I purchased both a Blackbook topcase and a 15" MBP Core 2 Duo Trackpad from ebay for my early 09 white/polycarb Macbook. I cross-referenced exactly which trackpad year to get with this website, (which says that early 08 MBPs have model #'s of A1260)

    The trackpad i got said it was compatible with A1226 and A1260 models, so I assumed it would have Multi-touch functionality.

    After receiving, and painfully installing the new trackpad and new topcase into my MB, I don't have any Multitouch in Mountain Lion (even after resetting PRAM and SMC). The 'more gestures' option doesn't show, the trackpad isn't recognized as a Multitouch one in BetterTouchTool, and I feel like I'm SOL...

    I soooo thought I had gotten the right trackpad, and I'm still sure, but is it a compatibility problem with the Blackbook top case?... I connected the wires correctly, although the blackbook trackpad looked slightly different (with 2 black circuit board/boxes instead of one, like on the 08 multitouch trackpad and my 09 white trackpad.

    Please give me some feedback, I was so pissed that it didn't work...

    The first pic is the black trackpad next to the installed Multitouch silver one.
    The second pic is what the back of BOTH the white and silver trackpads look like. (The Black trackpad looks different from the white and silver ones!)

    Attached Files:

  9. Picazsoo macrumors newbie

    Sep 21, 2008
    Macbook pro 2007 trackpad swap

    Tartarus, THANK YOU for your very detailed instructions. I always wanted to do this mod for my late 2007 Macbook Pro but wasn't willing to shell out the money for the whole topcase assembly. I managed to buy the standalone A1260 trackpad on eBay just like you and installing it with your instructions was a breeze (cost me about 40USD + 10USD for shipping to Europe). After booting, I immediately had functioning multitouch. BUT, I also found, that since the early 2008 MBP has different function keys layout, I couldn't properly adjust keyboard backlight and other such functions. I was unable to just do a simple remap using KeyRemap4MacBook, which in my opinion is very powerful tool and there is still a chance that I just didn't try hard enough.

    So, I spent more time googling and came across this thread:
    (following part of the post does make sense after reading the guide in link)

    It talked about changing a string inside a .kext file responsible for interpreting the function keys position. I just went backwards and copied the necessary string from the "539" section to the "560" section of the file and then deleted "" located at "/System/Library/Caches". Upon reboot, all of my function keys now work correctly except for the numlock green LED (the button itself works fine).

    I am posting this here mostly for historical reasons in case someone in future has to deal with similar problem (
  10. lukarak macrumors regular

    Jul 29, 2011
    I think the two chip one is from earlier macbooks. See, the number on the 820-1930-A is year 2005. The year on the 820-2085-A is 2006, which is probably a redesign for the 2007 MacBooks (one chip of the roughly same size is almost always cheaper). Also, notice the command key on your keyboard. It still has the Apple symbol, so it dates to before 2007.

    From wikipedia:

    So, in short, you bought the wrong topcase, which probably doesn't support multitouch. The OP also says it only works on 2007+ macs, and the topcase from 2006 is probably the thing that is lacking some functionality for that to work.

    I have been obsessing with finding if I should get the two chip or one chip solution then I realised that the two chip one is certainly not multitouch. The only thing to do is to take apart your macbook and see if your topcase has a single or dual chip one.
  11. Vader2 macrumors member

    Jan 6, 2013
    Do you happen to know the part number for the trackpad you used? I recently acquired an early 2008 macbook and its trackpad has been affected by the swelling battery issue. This would be a perfect mod for me because I am already missing the gestures from my mini.
  12. sebu123 macrumors newbie

    Sep 16, 2013
  13. madmacfan, Sep 17, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2013

    madmacfan macrumors 6502

    Feb 19, 2012
    London, United Kingdom
    That process uses a non unibody macbook pro trackpad hack from 2008. As it does without the use of unibody components, it is possible, as shown in the other thread you linked to, But only for Black and white pre unibody MacBooks Made from late 2007. If your macbook is a macbook 2,1 then i'm afraid this mod wouldn't work either, because the top case between the 2,1 models from late 2006/ early 2007 and 3,1 models from late 2007 are different and the 3,1 uses newer ribbon cables that are as far as i know are incompatible with previous models. There may be a way of modifying a later top case from say a black macbook 3,1 to fit and function in a 2,1 but theres no guarantee it would actually work. The best thing would be to do some research to see if it's a viable and cost effective option for you.
  14. lbosscher, Dec 6, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013

    lbosscher macrumors newbie

    Dec 6, 2013
    Can anyone link me to a video showing how to take out the original macbook's trackpad? I would like to see it done before I attempt it :) thanks!
  15. lbosscher macrumors newbie

    Dec 6, 2013
    I found a 4 chip one...will that work?
  16. Teutone macrumors newbie


    Feb 12, 2014
    topcase destroyed...

    Just for the record and for anybody who wants to try this out - I tried to be very careful when following this guide & still I managed to destroy my topcase in the process. I gave my MacBook to a repair shop and they ordered a new one for me and now I am typing from my working keyboard...
    before I was unable to boot, the system would not recognize I had the modified topcase installed and ask me for a external keyboard to properly boot.

    Just so you know there's this risk ;) Cost for my own trial: 150€

    nevertheless thanks to the OP for the nice guide, maybe a few more pictures and a more detailed description would have avoided my failure... I'll have to continue with only two finger gestures ;(
  17. reukiodo macrumors regular


    Nov 22, 2013

    I wish I would have recorded my removal process for this purpose, but I don't plan to go through this process again.

    The 4-chip trackpad is the only one that I know that is multitouch. If you are looking at replacement MacBook Pro keyboard/trackpads on eBay, the original keyboards with an 'Alt/Option' key instead of an 'Enter' key next to the arrow keys are the ones to look for. If the eBay post shows images of the back, the trackpad shows 4 chips.

    My attempt was much luckier. The eBay cost of a top case with broken keyboard but functional trackpad was only $15 with shipping. I found it much easier to first remove the MacBook Pro trackpad assembly, before very carefully (much time, and much heat) removing the trackpad from the rest of the trackpad frame assembly. I'm not sure if it is obvious to most, but the photo Tartarus provides shows how much double-sided tape is connecting the trackpad to its assembly. If you want to keep the double-sided tape (glue?) and reuse it, I would recommend using a tool try to pry the trackpad away gradually, because when I used a knife to separate the trackpad by pushing it slowly in (like a wedge), it bunched up the double-sided tape such that it was very difficult to later straighten out and reuse. Using the prying, I used the same basic approach with my MacBook trackpad, with the exception that there is no assembly to remove from the upper case (that I could tell) so I had to use a combination of pushing from the bottom along with a metal flat tool from the top. I'd recommend starting on the top center of the trackpad where the glue is nearly non-existent and working on one side at a time. I found the trackpad to have quite a deal of flex, so don't stress out if it is a little curved (like giant exercise ball, not baseball).

    Tips summary:
    • Separate MacBook Pro trackpad assembly
    • Use lots of heat (generous amount)
    • Proceed gradually (If you're asking 'how slow?' you're not going slow enough)
    • Barely pry the trackpad away (as opposed to wedging it to separate)
    • Start near the upper center
    • If you use a knife, WATCH OUT for the resistors and chips on the bottom and don't break them off!!
  18. Jkj12 macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2014
    The seven seas
    One question for this swap: Can you paint the trackpad (white/black)?
  19. B1T0Y macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2017

    Does anybody know if this multitouch trackpad modification still worKs on el capitan and sierra using unsupported mac installation? Do you still see multitouch option on trackpad preference? Want to modify my trackpad, coz in sierra trackpad is not recognized. Wondering if I did this modification it will work to have multitouch? Thanks.
  20. Teutone macrumors newbie


    Feb 12, 2014
    For me it works, did the modification and am enjoying nice multitouch, even with Sierra. You should give it a go, with a lot of patience. Really worth it
  21. B1T0Y macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2017
    Where did you buy the multitouch trackpad? Can you give me a specific link? Coz there is in ebay but want to make sure it is the right one. Thanks.

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20 August 30, 2012