Trackpad uncontrollable

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by paieye, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. paieye macrumors regular

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    Nov 14, 2008
    #1
    This 2010 MBA has El Capitan 10.11.4 installed. The trackpad has recently begun to behave unpredictably, selecting text or a new tab in the browser or another open application, even when I have not clicked Select. I have tried to boot the MBA in Diagnostics, but it simply booted in Ordinary mode. I tried to run Apple Hardware Test online, only to see a message saying that it was not available for this notebook. Where do I go from here ?
     
  2. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

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  3. paieye thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    It certainly is not bulging visibly -- the MBA is as thin and flat as when I bought it.
     
  4. paieye thread starter macrumors regular

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    #4
    I have now tested my hardware, using the tiny MBA Flash Drive (which I had mercifully Put In A Safe Place, so took several days to find) containing the operating-system and Apple Hardware Test. I ran the latter in extended mode, so as to get the most thorough test, and it reported "No trouble found."

    So it must be the software. On top of that, I am beginning to believe that the trouble is affecting the keyboard as well as the trackpad. For example, I have found, but only recently, that sometimes when I type, the insertion-point jumps to the beginning of the line, or even to some distant place in the text.
     
  5. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

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    #5
    Your new symptoms also sound like something is happening inside your MBAir.
    Have you opened up your MBAir to check for battery swelling? You will want to look inside. If the battery is pressing up against the trackpad (and now the keyboard) then you will get a variety of strange results, such as random cursor movement/clicks.
    You may not notice swelling from outside the case, but a swelling battery can still cause issues internally. You have to open up the case. Remember that your MBAir is pretty thin, and it doesn't take much movement inside to cause problems.

    Is your battery health normal? Option-click the battery menubar icon, or look in your System Information/Power tab.
     
  6. Left4DeadBoy macrumors regular

    Left4DeadBoy

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    #6
    hi That odd of the blue trackpad? I cant okay; you can u-se it because of its clean flexibility due to it being allso a Mac .
     
  7. paieye thread starter macrumors regular

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    #7
    According to Battery Health, the battery is in perfect condition.
     
  8. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

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    #8
    Good. That still leaves the _other_ question: Does the battery show any apparent swelling? (you do have to open the case, so you can inspect it. :D )
     
  9. paieye thread starter macrumors regular

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    #9
    All right, I shall get on with that, but it must wait until Friday, I am afraid.
     
  10. Rok73 macrumors 65816

    Rok73

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    #10
    Usually I ignore pointless posts but what does this even mean? Seriously, don't bother posting anything if it isn't supposed to be helpful. Looking at your (short) post history shows me 90% of your posts are like this one.
     
  11. kohlson macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    I suspect a battery issue, especially if it's the original battery. According to the Apple repair guys (at the store) about 3-4 years is normal, or 1000 cycles. I have replaced batteries in a 2011 (1000+ cycles, caused issues with trackpad, which also needed to be replaced), 2012 (390 cycles, Service Battery icon) and proactively in a 2013 (890 cycles - otherwise in for an IO board replacement). All 13-in MBAs. Another thought - could be BT from another device. This has happened to me when the mouse or kbd get accidentally switched on in my back pack - keyboard and input behave unpredictably!
     
  12. FirDerrig33 macrumors newbie

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    Jan 12, 2017
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    California
    #12
    Is it the 1.4 or the 1.6GHz?
    Does it have 2GB or 4GB of RAM installed?
    Are you using Chrome as your PRIMARY browser?
    Did you upgrade from Yosemite or did you upgrade straight to El Capitan from an earlier version of OS X?
    Have you noticed the spinning disk a lot when completing tasks?

    The reason that I ask these questions is because your MBA is a C2D machine with a max of 4GB of RAM and a low power CPU. This would suggest to me that depending on your configuration, you still don't have enough RAM for whichever version of OS X you decide to run after Mavericks. That lack of RAM will put more stress on your CPU and RAM which will then result in more strain on the battery; which will then result in decreased operating times on a single charge. This extra strain could result in the swelling of the battery (which is underneath the trackpad and could be causing the issues). This means that as long as you continue to run that version of OS X and use Chrome, then the issues will continue.

    If Chrome is your primary browser then that exacerbates the problem even more.

    Basically, even though your MBA technically meets Apple's minimum configuration to run that version of OS X, it really shouldn't run it.
     
  13. paieye thread starter macrumors regular

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    #13
    --- Post Merged, Jan 12, 2017 ---
    This MBA has 2 gigabytes of memory, and the 1.4 mhz. processor. I have upgraded the OS from whatever it was originally to Snow Leopard, and then on via each new version to the present, El Capitan. i liked all of the previous versions better than Mavericks and EC. System Information says that the battery is Normal. I am having great difficulty in typing this -- however slowly I type, the insertion-point keeps jumping away to a different part of the text, and there are unexplained pauses.
     
  14. FirDerrig33 macrumors newbie

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    #14
    Open Activity Monitor and look at the Memory Tab to see the amount of memory available. The important one to look at as well is the amount of SWAP used. There really shouldn't be any. This will also show you how much memory is being used by Chrome.

    The reason I recommend Mavericks is due to being the last version of OS X that doesn't negatively impact the system the way that post Mavericks versions do.
     
  15. paieye thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 14, 2008
    #15
    Sorry if I seem not to have answered, but the thread became fragmented. Yes, Chrome is my primary browser. I chose it because my sight is not as good as it was, and Chrome is, so far as I know, the only browser that gives you a black menu-bar with white lettering, which is what I now need. I have certainly seen the spinning ball more often lately.
     
  16. FirDerrig33 macrumors newbie

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    #16
    No apologies necessary and I could see that you did respond.

    Firefox is a good alternative to Chrome and doesn't have such a negative impact on your system. Plus, you can install bunch of different themes which have a black menu bar and white text. But OS X also has the feature to make the text white if that's what you need. Just open system preferences, open the Accessibility menu, then click the box to invert the colors.

    But if you want to keep your computer for longer and have it still be usable, you'll have to downgrade the OS to something before Yosemite.

    Have you also noticed a decrease in battery life?

    That spinning ball means that you're also putting more strain on your SSD. When you run out of available RAM, your computer is using virtual RAM to write temporary files to the SSD in order to keep up with system processes. This increases the amount of read/write cycles unnecessarily which will also decrease the life of your SSD/battery/MBA in general. You have a computer that could easily last 10 years based on your usage, but you have to be willing to make sacrifices regarding upgradeability.

    My wife has a Late 2009 iMac with a 3.06GHz C2D and 16GB of RAM because it needed it to run more recent versions of OS X. Since you can't upgrade to that extent, you have to either downgrade the OS, or get a machine that can actually handle the load put on it.
     
  17. paieye thread starter macrumors regular

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    #17
    SWAP is shown as 918,3 mb
     
  18. FirDerrig33 macrumors newbie

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    #18
    that is ridiculously high.
     
  19. paieye thread starter macrumors regular

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    #19
    Memory used is shown as 1.67 gig
    --- Post Merged, Jan 12, 2017 ---
    Perhaps before I spend about £150 on a new battery, I ought to adopt Firefox and go back to an earlier OS. When I denounced Mavericks, that was a slip of the tongue -- I meant Yosemite.
     
  20. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

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    #20
    If you take the bottom cover off, you may want to look at the battery, where instead of a nice smooth, flat surface, it looks a little "wrinkled", especially near the corners of the battery. That difference in appearance (and have someone else take a look, or compare, if possible to a normal battery)

    It's not likely that you would ever get away without having SOME swap, and that could get quite high with only 2GB of RAM available. You can't upgrade your RAM.
    THAT'S not causing your cursor issues. And, that's why I recommend that you remove the bottom cover, and take a look. You MAY discover that your battery is swelling. It sits directly underneath your trackpad, and any swelling has the likelihood of affecting the trackpad. A swelling battery can test, and work OK, but still can affect the parts of the hardware that are near it. Trackpad is one of those.
     
  21. paieye thread starter macrumors regular

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    #21
    Thank you for this valuable help, and I intend to have a look at the battery tomorrow -- when the MBA screwdrivers arrive !
     
  22. FirDerrig33 macrumors newbie

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    #22
    SOME swap, sure. But not 900+ MB of it. I have not used any swap on my Mac mini and since upgrading the RAM on my wife's iMac there hasn't been any there either.

    I agree with the battery possibly swelling to the point of causing issues with the trackpad, but I do think that the reason it is swelling is due to the way the OP is using the MBA and the machine's limitations. not having enough RAM will cause problems with the CPU, the RAM, the SSD/HDD. All of these parts are put under increased workload when running newer versions of OS X that the machine cannot handle. The increased workload on those parts also create an increased demand on the battery which will cause problems with it (such as: decreased battery life, overheating, swelling).

    What I am saying is that the battery might look like the primary cause but it is in fact one of the symptoms of a system that is not optimal.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 12, 2017 ---
    I agree and you should also completely uninstall Chrome from your system.
     
  23. paieye thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 14, 2008
    #23
    I have uninstalled Chrome, and am experimenting with Fire Fox cautiously. My 1st impressions are not glowing, but I shall persevere and report back. Meanwhile, I am most grateful for all of your help.
     
  24. FirDerrig33 macrumors newbie

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    #24
    That's a very good thing. After uninstalling Chrome you should have noticed at least less active memory usage. Firefox is also very customizable so once you get into the application click the tools section in the menu bar and take a look at the add-ons and the various ways in which you can customize it.

    Installing a different browser is only a temporary fix to what will be a persistent issue. Your choices are either to downgrade the OS or upgrade the machine. Obviously downgrading the OS is considerably less expensive and what I would recommend.
     
  25. paieye thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 14, 2008
    #25
    You may feel like saying to me "Find out for yourself," but is there an easy and safe way to reinstall Mavericks ?
     

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