3 Reasons Your MacBook Has a Faulty Trackpad

Rotten apples on a tree branch.

Apple MacBooks are not as easy to maintain as Windows-based laptops. On the flip side of this, a MacBook often has less need for you to open up its guts. However, a faulty trackpad can tempt you to get out a screwdriver – although, it’s often not needed.

In this post we take a look at three causes of a faulty trackpad on your MacBook. We also provide some guidance to fix the problem – whatever the cause.

1. Your Faulty Trackpad’s Surface Needs Cleaning

The first cause of a faulty trackpad is also the first you should explore. Like many electroconductive surfaces, there needs to be a clear path between the device and your finger. Without this, the connection erodes and results in substandard or broken functionality.

In layman’s terms, this means your trackpad (and hands!) need to be clean. A volatile connection is often shown on screen. You’ll usually see a cursor that jitters or jumps. Also, you may see phantom marquee boxes and random gestures being triggered.

The Trackpad settings.
You may also want to see if changing your settings helps within “System Preferences -> Trackpad.”

To clean your Trackpad, Apple recommends to:

  • Use Lysol or Clorox wipes.
  • Squeeze the wipe to remove excess moisture.
  • Make three passes: once with a wipe, once with a damp cloth, and once with a dry cloth. Note that any cloths you use should be lint-free.

Before you throw in the towel, wash you hands and dry them with it. If tip doesn’t do the trick, you’ll want to move on to the next tip.

2. The Trackpad Has Lost Contact and Requires a Reset

There are plenty of software fixes for a faulty trackpad, and we covered them in a previous article. However, if you’ve tried these with no success, and Apple’s own advice is fruitless, it could be that the trackpad internal detection has gone haywire.

If the MacBook has recently been knocked or hit, this is more likely the cause of the faulty trackpad because these actions are more likely to result in a misaligned trackpad.

Admittedly, this is an empirical solution to a rare problem. However, it crops up enough that we feel it’s worth a mention. Simply press your palm into the middle of the trackpad for a few seconds to reset the calibration. Alternatively, you can press in two of the four corners at once.

I have used the technique on a few occasions with success. However, more often than not, our final cause of a faulty trackpad is more often the case.

3. Your MacBook’s Battery Is Faulty

Given how slim and compact MacBooks are, it’s understandable that multiple components need to share real estate to some extent. In a MacBook, the battery sits right underneath the trackpad.

Unfortunately, when a battery begins to fail, it could expand due to the liquids inside. This expansion will obviously begin to interfere with other components – the trackpad is the first victim.

To quickly see whether your battery may be at fault, you can head to “Battery -> Battery Health” screen in the System Preferences.

The Battery Health screen.

If the battery needs replacing, this screen will tell you. You can also check this in the battery indicator found within the toolbar:

The Battery Indicator notice.

A technician should replace the battery if necessary. A dying battery doesn’t just mean a faulty trackpad – it can also affect all of the other components of your MacBook.

Wrapping Up

It used to be that MacBooks could be opened up and maintained by the user, although it’s not as easy as it was back in the late 2000s. However, even something like a faulty trackpad doesn’t necessarily need you to pop the hood.

In fact, you should involve a qualified technician if a quick clean isn’t successful. In these cases, the battery is almost certainly faulty, so would need replacing with an official model.

If your trackpad is really ruined beyond repair, you can check out some practical methods to use your Macbook without trackpad.

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Tom Rankin Tom Rankin

Tom Rankin is a quality content writer for WordPress, tech, and small businesses. When he's not putting fingers to keyboard, he can be found taking photographs, writing music, playing computer games, and talking in the third-person.

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