How To Fix Mac Trackpad Not Working

Mac Trackpads are impressive on the eye, convenient, and most importantly, efficient. However, like anything else in the tech world they can break or stop working and you may be left scratching your head. One day your Trackpad can work fine and the next it starts to malfunction for seemingly no reason. Unfortunately, although Macs are beautiful computers, they’re often a lot harder to diagnose and fix than Windows computers. If your Mac’s Trackpad has stopped working, don’t be tempted to reach for a screwdriver, instead, read on for all the different possible fixes you can try.

Before we get into the possible fixes, let’s look at some of the possible causes for your faulty Trackpad. Some of these are basic reasons and fixes and some are a little more advanced but you should be able to do all of them at home to try and fix your Trackpad.

1. Your Trackpad is dirty

Usually, a faulty Trackpad is just down to it being a little dirty. Because your finger is constantly swiping across the Trackpad, it’s easy for dirt, sweat, and grease to build upon it. Over time the electroconductive passage between your finger and the Trackpad becomes weaker and thus, stops working. You may even notice your cursor skipping across the screen. This is a sure sign that your Trackpad is dirty.

Clorox disinfecting wipes

How to fix:

  • Use Clorox wipes
  • Wring out any excess moisture before using
  • Wipe gently a few times across the Trackpad
  • Leave to dry

2. Your Trackpad has lost internal connection

The next reason your Trackpad could have stopped working is a bit of a more rare reason but it’s worth investigating. If you have recently knocked your Mac then the Trackpad may have become misaligned.

How to fix:

  • Hold your palm in the middle of the Trackpad for several seconds

This should realign the calibration of your Trackpad.

3. Your battery is faulty

It’s also rare that a Mac battery will fail, especially when it’s quite new but it does happen every now and again. The battery in a Mac sits right under the Trackpad so if the liquid from the battery leaks, the Trackpad will be the first part of the Mac to fail.

battery condition

How to fix:

The first thing you should do is go to Battery>Battery Health to see the status of your battery. If your battery is damaged you’ll need to contact a technician for a replacement.

Now we’ve looked at some of the reasons your Trackpad has stopped working, we’ll take a glance at some of the more common fixes you can try easily and at home.

1. Remove any connected devices

Sometimes peripheral connections can interfere with your Trackpad’s ability to work normally. An easy fix is to remove any mouses’, dongles, external hard drives and then reboot your Mac. It’s common for your Trackpad to not work properly when a Mouse is connected, especially through Bluetooth.

2. Check for updates

Another common reason why your Mac Trackpad has stopped working is that it’s not in line with the most recent update available. This is really easy to fix. All you need to do is navigate to System Preferences>Software Updates. If you see any updates available, click ‘Update Now’. You can also set your Mac to update automatically in the future which is highly recommended to keep your Mac running smoothly.

Mac update

3. Reset the System Management Controller (SMC)

The SMC is responsible for many low-level functions on your Mac so it makes sense to keep it in order.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Shut down your Mac from the Toolbar
  • If your Mac has a removable battery, remove it once your Mac has powered down.
  • Press and hold the power button for 5 seconds
  • Reinstall your battery and power up your Mac
  • If your Mac does not have a removable battery, hold down CTRL+OPTION+SHIFT and then hold down the power button for 10 seconds
  • These processes will reset the SMC on your Mac

4. Reset the Parameter RAM (PRAM) or Non-Volatile RAM (NVRAM)

Depending on how old your Mac is, it’ll either run on PRAM or NVRAM. Both of these systems hold important configuration settings and so both can cause your Trackpad to become faulty if they stop working properly.

To reset these systems:

  • Shut down your Mac as shown in the previous fix
  • Press and hold OPTION+COMMAND+P+R for 20 seconds. When the startup sound starts, release the keys

Now check if your Trackpad is working properly.

5. Delete the Trackpad property list files

If all of the causes and fixes so far haven’t helped you to fix your Trackpad, there’s one last thing you can try. Your Trackpad issues could be down to a corrupted property list file.

To fix this:

  • Go>Go to Finder menu
  • In the dialog that pops up, type; /Library/Preferences
  • In the finder window, look for the below files

com.apple.AppleMultitouchTrackpad.plist

Com.apple.preference.trackpad.plist

If you can see either of these files, simply delete them and then reboot your Mac to check if your Trackpad works properly again.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, these Trackpad fixes have helped you. If they have, be sure to bookmark this page so you can refer back to it in the future in the event you have any issues with your Mac Trackpad again.

Categories Mac
About S. Santos

I am a tech columnist and blogger by trade, but I'm also an avid tennis player. In my spare time, I enjoy reviewing gadgets and gizmos from the world of tech. A lot has changed in the field since I started out as a writer back in 2009, so it's always exciting to keep up with all that's new. To me, there's nothing quite like getting my hands on a brand-new gadget or piece of software for the first time -- it's like Christmas morning every day!

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