Macbook Pro trackpad not working? Try this!

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by danoftroy, Sep 30, 2012.

  1. danoftroy macrumors newbie

    Oct 24, 2011
    It is funny how sometimes you can find the solution to a problem, when you are not trying. Approximately 6 months ago my trackpad stopped clicking on my Macbook Pro, Late 2008 Unibody. Sometimes it would work, but it would be very still, then eventually it would not click - left or right click - and be able to click and drag, etc.

    I have been using an external USB mouse since then, and then this week something happened. The bottom of my Macbook popped open and would not close. It turns out the battery had swollen, and I was unable to close the battery cover. I took the battery out, ordered a new one, and as I write this post there is no battery in my Macbook, and the trackpad has not worked this well in a long time.

    So, if your trackpad stops right or left clicking, then take out your battery, power up using the power supply, and see if your trackpad works without the battery.

    Hope this helps.

  2. Ledgem macrumors 68000


    Jan 18, 2008
    Hawaii, USA
    This is very good advice. A year ago my wife's 2006 Macbook lost the ability to click using the physical button, and the mouse would begin clicking at random. The battery (which was easily accessible and part of the casing on those models) looked fine, until we took it out. It was so warped on the machine-facing side that we couldn't get it back in. Apparently it had pushed on various parts of the casing such that the mouse was affected. With the battery out, the mouse returned to normal.

    I'm surprised to hear that it can happen with the unibody models as well, but thanks for sharing and letting us know.
  3. T5BRICK macrumors G3


    Aug 3, 2006
    This is a good observation, but keep in mind most newer Mac portables don't have easily accessible batteries. Of course, it's still possible to remove them it just takes more work.
  4. hollospark macrumors newbie

    Dec 8, 2012
    Bingo I have a 06 model and once I took out the battery the trackpad is working again thanks!!!
  5. MrGrizz macrumors newbie

    Dec 31, 2012
    The battery might be the problem . . .

    On my MBP2008 the trackpad was acting up, finally it became difficult, as in more force than I felt was safe to apply, to click.

    The battery was swelling, presumably due to age. I took it in (still under AppleCare at the time) and they replaced the battery as expected. They also replaced the trackpad as it had been damaged by the ordeal.

    On the 2008 problems getting the battery compartment to close without a bulge may mean the battery is swelling.

  6. D0C70RWH0 macrumors newbie

    Feb 21, 2013
    Thank you SO MUCH for posting this! This was exactly the problem my wife's 2006 MacBook was having, and your suggestion was dead-on.

    -The Doctor
  7. ljusmc macrumors member

    Jun 23, 2012
    This seems to be for older MacBooks? I have a Late 2011 and my left click is becoming more and more unresponsive. Its really annoying. Would taking it to Apple be a good idea?
  8. chrisperro macrumors 6502


    Oct 24, 2009
    Newer MacBooks have the battery under the trackpad too ,I had the same problem with a 2011 pro, remove the battery and trackpad work again, the swelling of the battery not happened very Often but ...
  9. droidbook macrumors member

    Feb 19, 2013
    yeah that swelling of the battery will drive you crazy I remember my white macbook doing that and the trackpad had a mind of its own. Removing battery it worked just fine like you mentioned.
  10. Loopy C macrumors newbie

    Mar 3, 2009
    Yes, thank you...this was one of the first posts I came across after inheriting an older Macbook (first Intel model) with non-working trackpad and indeed the battery was swollen and trackpad is now working again ;-)
  11. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    If the click mechanism isn't working you could also always turn on tap-to-click in the preferences.

    If it's a case of a swollen battery then of course you should get that fixed since there are more worrying things about that than the trackpad.
  12. bigjobby macrumors 65816

    Apr 7, 2010
    London, UK
    If its still under warranty then yes.
  13. Jamesblond macrumors newbie

    Feb 29, 2012

    My 2009 MBP (model 4.5) is now having this issue, and I wanted to open it up and see if the battery has swelled.....but i am not sure how to do that.
  14. deevey, Jun 24, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2013

    deevey macrumors member

    Dec 4, 2004
    Hi all,

    I had two issues crop up with my trackpad unrelated to each other - so heres how I dealt with them (mid 2009 13' MBP)

    Issue 1. Pregnant Battery

    Things to know if its the battery at fault.

    1. If the battery is UNDER 300 cycles and below 70% charge it will be replaced

    2. If the Battery is OVER 300 cycles and the swelling is causing extreme physical structural damage it may be replaced at the discretion of Apple.

    I first brought my unit in for checking after about 2 years, out of warranty, and my battery was 310 cycles and only had 40% charge - literally probably a week out of downright replacement.

    They Checked my unit however and still sent the battery to Apples repair center feeling they might be able to do something. It was checked over, given the all clear and a few weeks later was called back in and was sent on my merry way - Verdict: Sorry Dude they cant do anything for you. If it had been below 300 I would have got a new battery (I was offered one installed for $80 however as a courtesy which I declined at the time).

    Over a year later - with only 70 more cycles made (I leave it plugged in) my battery had swollen ALOT.

    So I bring it to the store and explain my predicament - they had checked my unit previously and it had no issues except a dying batteries.

    Their solution was obviously to take out the battery and lose portability.

    So I argued that their faulty part, which was previously given the "all clear" was essentially destroying the unit. Which would mean losing functionality or the faulty Apple part destroying the unit due to the swelling (which was extreme).

    So they took out the old battery, took lots of photos of my pregnant battery and sent them off to Apple (I was allowed to keep my unit).

    A week later I was informed I would be getting a brand spanking new battery for my 3.5 year old out-of-warranty macbook pro BUT would have to pay for installation. WIN WIN!

    Issue 2. Faulty Trackpad

    The second Issue cropped up a few days ago (how I came across this thread).

    Trackpad started going all erratic - changing screens, opening apps on their own, mouse moving all over the place etc.... I had already taken out the trackpad and cleaned it with Isopropyl, which did not work.

    Bad news is: Already ordered a new trackpad (after SMC/PRAM reset failed to help).

    Good news is: I fixed the old one!

    I had nothing to lose except my sanity if I wait for my delivery so decided to go-for-broke.

    • I heated up some distilled water in the kettle
    • Added dish Detergent.
    • Soaked the old trackpad for 10 mins and used a small paintbrush to clean it thoughoutly.
    • Rinsed well with fairly hot semi-boiled distilled water.
    • Dried Throughly with paper towels.
    • Left it in the sun for 8 hours to dry completely

    Result: I'm kinda peeved that I just bought a new one :p .. however the water "might" cause corrosion on somewhere internally on the trackpad thats not visible to the naked eye eventually.

    I'm guessing oily dirt that could not be flushed out with the alcohol was the cause of the problem.

    Hope that helps someone out :) ... now off to post my laptop for sale and finally get a new model
  15. Just P macrumors newbie

    Jul 3, 2013
    What worked for me

    I recently just reformatted my Macbook pro and my trackpad stopped working after I logged in, I could see the mouse arrow moving around but I could not select by pressing the pad. What eventually worked for me was 1st: Pressing hard on the trackpad and applying pressure all across the surface. 2nd: After pressing on the trackpad surface for a while I found out if I pressed hard enough I could select but it was a pain pressing the hell out of the pad just to make a selection so I went to "Preferences" and then selected "trackpad" and then selected "Tap to click" and it started to work like it use to, but I ended up having to use 3 fingers to select and drag..which was annoying as hell. So I went to "Preferences/Universal Access/Trackpad Options/ and select "Dragging". That worked.

    Also try: Shutting down computer, plug it in, then start pressing Shift/control/option while pressing the power up button for 15 seconds and when you let go the light on your power cord connected to your Mac should go to green then back to orange, then power up your mac again.

    Also try: Command+Option+P+R while you power up your mac and wait til it chime 2wice ...then start up again.

    Hopes this helps....someone, I know how it is:confused:
  16. bjp macrumors newbie

    Jul 9, 2013
    Track pad AND mouse not working

    But what if both the trackpad AND the mouse don't work? Surely, the battery wouldn't be the problem with the mouse. But both are completely ineffectual and I'm now stuck using my mother's computer. Thank You very little Apple.
  17. Astroboy907 macrumors 65816


    May 6, 2012
    Spaceball One
    Sounds like a trackpad issue. Odd that it woud spontaneously go out though! Maybe a bad cable. There is also a tension screw inside the macbooks that changes the clicking feeling, maybe yours got way overtightened or came loose. What model is it?
  18. johngwheeler macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2010
    I come from a land down-under...
    Put a piece of folded paper between battery and cable!

    This is a well know problem with the MBPs with removable batteries. It's a defect in the connector cable for the keyboard and trackpad. If you place a piece of paper, blue-tak etc. on top of the flat ribbon cable that sits under a protective flap in the battery compartment, the pressure of the battery when fitted can correct the problem.

    I had this faul intermittently for a couple of year. Apple wanted to charge me $$$ to replace the whole board, but a 2 cent piece of scotch tape fixed it for over a year. It did eventually fail completely, but I saved some money.

    There are photos of this on the web. I'll try to dig out a link.
  19. BackfromFrance macrumors newbie

    Sep 9, 2013
    Thanks for saving me money and time!

    I have a MacBook 4.1, suddenly the track pad stopped working this week just like others in this thread. Sure enough, same characteristic problem - a swollen battery pack. Removed it, and everything's working.
    I do not need the battery pack (I only use this Mac for managing my music) - and did not want to have to buy a new battery or external mouse. Thanks for the great advice!:)
  20. feefer, Sep 19, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013

    feefer macrumors newbie

    Nov 15, 2010
    Check this, too


    I have an early 2008 Pre-Unibody 17" MBP (4,1), and am on my 2nd battery for the same issue (pregnant battery).

    The track-pad problem stems from a lack of physical clearance between the bottom of the laptop (i.e. the swollen battery) and the surface of the desktop it's resting on: you can verify this for yourself by propping up your laptop with a thin book on the backside edge of the laptop, and you'll find your track-pad problem instantly disappears!

    So the first thing to do is check if the rubber feet are missing from your laptop (as mine were), and get replacements; that'll buy you some additional time.

    If they cost an arm and a leg (and they DO!) and if you're willing to go DIY non-OEM, there are MUCH taller rubber feet bumpers available at a hardware store (or Walmart) in multi-packs that have an adhesive backing on their flat surface: buy two (or four), and put them on each corner, and you're back in business. (It's good to go with two in the back below the screen, at first, since it makes using the laptop a bit more natural; use four, if your battery is REALLY pregnant.)

    This replacement battery is a few years old, and shows 414 cycles, with 2 hours run time available when fully-charged (down from 4-5 hrs max, IIRC, when it was new). It's on it's last legs anyway, and eventually will have to be replaced, but they swell when they get old: it happens.

    PS there's a trapped gas puncture "fix" available on the web, too, but I'd try this first: no reason to vent toxic gases, if you can avoid it.
  21. jajustin macrumors newbie

    May 7, 2014
    Thank You!

    Hi, Just wanted to document for others. The track pad on my MacBook Pro wasn't responding to clicks either. Taking out the battery solved the problem.

    Glad I Googled the problem and found this forum!


  22. Awesomea000 macrumors newbie

    Oct 12, 2014
    Thank You So much for this, it really helped!!!!:D:D:D:D:D:D
  23. cube macrumors Pentium

    May 10, 2004
    I tried reboot and SMC reset to no avail.

    Then I unplugged power and Thunderbolt and I could click again. I don't know which one did the trick.
  24. ursaah macrumors newbie

    Feb 3, 2016
    Greetings. Wonderful advise RE: removing battery—fixed my trackpad issue lickety-split.
    I hesitate to buy a new battery since my MBP late 2006 is on it's last legs as it is... Does someone have a recommendation as far as covering the open battery slot (? don't know what it's called...) on the bottom of the computer?

    Thank you kindly.
  25. DeltaMac macrumors G3


    Jul 30, 2003
    Duck/gaffer's tape will do that nicely
    I had an older Macbook pro to fix, just this week. Battery went bad several years ago, and the owner took some poster board, trimmed to fit. Covered over with silver duck tape. Didn't look too bad...
    I have a white MacBook 2007. Removed a swelling battery last year. I took the battery case apart, and removed the battery cells. Put the empty battery case back together, and that empty battery case "works" very well.
    I have to remember that it will shut off if I accidentally unplug the magsafe connector :D

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