One of the reasons people buy Apple computers is their reputation for just working. Because of this, it’s especially painful when they don’t “just work.” Recently, the company has had problems with the keyboards on its MacBook Pro models, but this isn’t the only thing that could go wrong.
No computer problems are good, but a trackpad not working is particularly bad, since it feels like you can barely use your computer at all. These can also be tough problems to track down, so troubleshooting can be time-consuming. That said, these tips might help you fix your problem faster.
Remove Any Connected Mice
Normally, this shouldn’t cause an issue, but one of the easiest things to rule out is to make sure you don’t have any other mice connected. You’d probably notice a wired mouse, but the dongle for a wireless mouse or even a Bluetooth mouse could potentially cause trouble with your trackpad. If an external mouse is connected, disconnect it, reboot, and see if your problem persists.
Check for Software Updates
This is another easy thing to check. You can check for software updates by opening the System Preferences app, then opening the Software Update section in the third row. This will automatically check for any available updates.
Though it’s not common, this can also pull in firmware updates, which may fix your trackpad problem. Software could also be at fault, so it never hurts to check for updates if your Mac trackpad isn’t working.
The SMC or System Management Controller is responsible for many of the low-level functions on your MacBook. Because of this, it could be causing your trackpad issue, even if it isn’t directly related to the trackpad.
To start, shut down your Mac.
If your Mac has a removable battery, remove the battery and power source. Press and hold the power button for five seconds, then reinstall the battery and power your Mac back on.
For a Mac with a non-removable battery, hold down Ctrl + Option + Shift on your built-in keyboard, then press and hold down the power button. Hold these down for ten seconds. After ten seconds, release them, then press the power button to turn your MacBook back on.
Depending on your model of MacBook, it uses either PRAM (parameter RAM) or NVRAM (non-volatile RAM). Both of these serve the same function, and either can be at fault for your trackpad issues. Fortunately, the steps for resetting either are the same.
Shut down your Mac. Now, press Option + Command + P + R. Hold them down for at least twenty seconds. On most MacBooks you can release the keys after you hear the startup sound for a second time. For newer MacBooks with the T2 security chip, release the keys after the Apple logo appears for the second time.
Delete Trackpad Property List Files
Finally, a rogue property list or “.plist” file could be at fault. Since we’re focusing on MacBook trackpads, there are only two files to look for.
Open Finder, then open the Go menu and click on the Go To Folder menu entry. Here, type “Library/Preferences,” then click Go. Look for the following files. If either is present, delete it, then restart your computer.
This article focuses on MacBooks, but they’re far from the only computers with trackpad issues. Windows laptops and Linux laptops can suffer from trackpad issues as well. No matter the platform, trackpad trouble is always frustrating.