Some MacBook users have come across a weird issue where their trackpad stops working immediately after logging in. This article looks into real user experiences and solutions discussed across various forums, providing insights into this frustrating problem. The most common software solution? A bug in MacOS where the operating system is disabling the touchpad thinking that an external mouse is connecting. To work around this:
- Connect a USB Mouse
- Go to “System Preferences” -> “Accessibility” -> “Pointer Control” ->
- Uncheck the box that says “Ignore built-in trackpad when mouse or wireless trackpad is present”
The second most common solution is pressing the ‘Alt’ key 5 times to Enable/Disable ‘Mouse Keys’ for your Mac. This fixes the issue for some people.
The most common hardware fix for this involves cleaning the trackpad flex cable with isopropyl alcohol and then re-connecting it. Several people have gotten their Macbooks back up using that method.
If those solutions don’t work, you will want to look at other hardware and software issues you might be facing.
Software Troubleshooting Procedure
If your keyboard and trackpad stop responding after waking your computer from sleep or after logging in, you might have a bug with the version of MacOS you’re running or a hardware issue. This is going to seem like a very unusual issue for you because everything will work fine at the login screen. Start with this troubleshooting procedure:
- Restart your Mac. This can often fix minor software glitches that may be causing the problem.
- Reset the System Management Controller (SMC). The SMC is responsible for controlling many of the low-level functions on your Mac, including the trackpad. To reset the SMC, follow these steps:
- Shut down your Mac.
- Hold down the Shift, Control, and Option keys and the power button for 4 seconds.
- Release all of the keys.
- Press the power button to turn on your Mac.
- Reset the Non-Volatile Random-Access Memory (NVRAM). The NVRAM stores certain settings for your Mac, such as the startup disk and display resolution. To reset the NVRAM, follow these steps:
- Shut down your Mac.
- Hold down the Command, Option, P, and R keys when you turn on your Mac.
- Keep holding the keys until you hear the startup chime twice.
- Release the keys and let your Mac start up normally.
- Press the Alt key five times: This enables/disables ‘Mouse Keys’ on your Mac. Doing this will fix the issue (at least temporarily) for some people.
- Turn off ‘Ignore built-in trackpad’ Option: Using an external mouse, go to “System Preferences” -> “Accessibility” -> “Pointer Control” -> uncheck “Ignore built-in trackpad when mouse or wireless trackpad is present”.
- Update your macOS software. Apple regularly releases software updates that include bug fixes and performance improvements. Make sure that your Mac is running the latest version of macOS. To check for Updates, go to System Preferences > Software Update.
- Create a new user account. If the problem persists, try creating a new user account on your Mac. If the trackpad works in the new user account, then the problem is likely with your current user account. You can transfer your files and settings to the new user account using the Migration Assistant tool.
- Wipe the OS and re-install: If the problem is with the operating system, a fresh installation should rule that out.
Hardware Troubleshooting Procedure
If you’ve ruled out the software issues, you will then have to look at hardware issues – starting with cleaning the trackpad cable and going on from there:
- Clean The Trackpad Flex Cable: With the Macbook unplugged and the battery disconnected, remove and clean the trackpad flex cable with isopropyl alcohol. Re-seat the cable making sure you’re pushing it in all the way and secure it so the cable is in the correct position.
- Replace the Trackpad: If cleaning the contacts on the cable doesn’t fix your issue you may have a bad trackpad. Try replacing it with a known working one.
Safe Mode and System Preferences
It’s a good idea to boot the MacBook into Safe Mode to disable any problematic extensions. If the trackpad works in Safe Mode, it confirms a software issue.
Here are some additional tips:
- Try using an external mouse to see if the problem is with the trackpad itself or with the software.
- If you are using a case or cover on your MacBook, try removing it to see if that fixes the problem.
- If you have recently installed any new software, try uninstalling it to see if that fixes the problem.
- If you have any Bluetooth devices paired with your Macbook, unpair them to see if that was the issue.
The MacBook trackpad issue is a complex problem with both software and hardware dimensions. Users have found success with various approaches, from simple system preference tweaks to more involved hardware cleaning. It’s crucial for MacBook users to consider both avenues when facing this issue.
If you have tried all of the above and your trackpad is still not working, then there may be a hardware problem with your Mac. In this case, you will need to take your Mac to an Apple Store or Apple service provider for further assistance.
- What should I do first if my MacBook trackpad stops working after login?
- Start by resetting your SMC and PRAM. If that doesn’t work, try deleting preference files or creating a new user account to determine if it’s a software issue.
- Could this be a hardware problem?
- Yes, if software fixes don’t work, inspect the hardware. Check the trackpad flex cable for debris or corrosion and clean it with isopropyl alcohol.
- Is it necessary to contact Apple Support for this issue?
- While Apple Support can be helpful, many users have resolved the issue through community-shared solutions. However, if your MacBook is still under warranty, contacting Apple Support is advisable.
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