Trackpad not working on MacBook? 9 Effective ways to fix it

Trackpad not working on MacBook 9 Effective ways to fix it

Is your MacBook trackpad not working properly or unresponsive? This may happen due to a few different reasons (including software glitches, fault settings, and more). 

Don’t worry, as long as it’s not a hardware issue, there are several easy ways to fix the problem and get your MacBook’s trackpad back on track. Let’s take a look.

  1. Update macOS
  2. Adjust Double-click speed
  3. Ensure built-in trackpad is enabled if using an external trackpad
  4. Change your MacBook’s Tracking speed
  5. Turn off Force Click and Haptic Feedback on Mac
  6. Reset NVRAM or PRAM on Mac
  7. Reset your MacBook’s SMC
  8. Delete .plist files in macOS
  9. Other possible fixes

1. Update macOS

It’s recommended to run the latest version of macOS on your MacBook for a smooth user experience. If there are trackpad driver issues or software bugs, updating to the most recent macOS version might fix it.

Since your Mac’s trackpad is currently not working, you’ll have to use a wired or wireless mouse for the time being.

  1. To update your Mac, click the Apple logo → System Preferences.
  2. Click Software Update.

    Click on Software Update in Mac System Preferences
  3. Check for the latest version. If a new version is available, click Upgrade Now.

    Update macOS to the latest version

2. Adjust Double-click speed

This option may be the cause of your trackpad woes. To fix the Double-click speed on your MacBook:

  1. Click Apple logo → System Preferences → Accessibility.

    Click on Accessibility in System Preferences on Mac
  2. Click Pointer Control on the left sidebar.
  3. Drag the slider for Double-click speed. A similar position to that shown in the image below is a solid option. For those who have trouble double-clicking quickly, you may want to drag the slider further to the left.

    Adjust Double Click Speed in Trackpad Settings on Mac

If this solution wasn’t what you needed, stay on the Pointer Control settings page; you’ll need it for the next fix.

3. Ensure built-in trackpad is enabled if using an external trackpad

To make sure that your MacBook’s trackpad works, uncheck the box that reads “Ignore built-in trackpad when mouse or wireless trackpad is present.” in the Pointer Control settings page.

Disable Ignore Built-in Trackpad When Using External Trackpad on Mac

4. Change your MacBook’s Tracking speed

If, for whatever reason, your Tracking speed is set to the lower end of the spectrum, it may cause it to seem unresponsive and sluggish. Here’s how to check it: 

  1. In System Preferences, click Trackpad.

    Click on Trackpad in System Preferences on Mac
  2. Adjust the slider for Tracking speed.

    Adjust Tracking Speed on Trackpad Settings on Mac

5. Turn off Force Click and Haptic Feedback on Mac

Turning off Force Click might work for Macs with Force Touch enabled. This isn’t the most convenient solution, but a hack that has worked for a few people in the past.

  1. In System Preferences, click Trackpad.
  2. Make sure the Point & Click tab is selected.
  3. Now, uncheck the box for Force Click and haptic feedback.

    Turn Off Force Click on MacBook Trackpad

6. Reset NVRAM or PRAM on Mac

Multiple settings related issues are usually successfully fixed by an NVRAM or PRAM reset. To keep this short, let’s jump straight to the steps here.

  1. Click the Apple logo and Shut Down your MacBook.
  2. Turn it on and immediately press Option () + Command () + P + R. Release the keys after around 20 seconds.Note from Apple: On Mac computers that play a startup sound, you can release the keys after the second startup sound. On Mac computers that have the Apple T2 Security Chip, you can release the keys after the Apple logo appears and disappears for the second time.

This should fix the trackpad issues on your MacBook. Otherwise, you’ll have to look to other solutions.

7. Reset your MacBook’s SMC

We already have a detailed guide on how to reset SMC for MacBooks with removable and non-removable batteries. So if you have a MacBook from 2017 or earlier, please see the linked article. If you have a MacBook introduced in 2018 or later, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Apple logo and Shut Down your Mac.
  2. Press and hold Control () on the left side of keyboard + Option () + Shift ⇧ on the right side of the keyboard. It’s normal if your MacBook turns on.
  3. Continue to hold all three keys for 5-10 seconds and then press and hold the power button too. (If your MacBook had turned on, it’ll switch off.)
  4. Keep holding all four keys for the next 7 seconds. Let go of the keys after this step.
  5. After about 15-30 seconds, turn your MacBook on by pressing the power button.

Try to use the trackpad. Any luck? If not, you still have a few solutions left.

8. Delete .plist files in macOS

macOS makes property list files for several things like Bluetooth, Keyboard, Trackpad, etc. To address your MacBook’s trackpad issues, try deleting the existing .plist files. After a restart, your MacBook will automatically make fresh versions of these files.

  1. From Finder, press Command () + Shift ⇧ + G. In the address bar, type or copy and paste this folder address: /Library/Preferences and click Go.

    Enter Folder Path and Click on Go on Mac
  2. Delete the following property list files. If needed, increase your Finder window size or use search from top right to easily find them:
  • (Magic Trackpad)
  • (Magic Mouse)
  • (Wired USB mouse)

    Delete plist Files on Mac

9. Other possible fixes

  • Uninstall new apps: Was the trackpad working fine until you downloaded a new application? If so, uninstall the app and see if it fixes the trackpad issues.
  • Use Safe Mode on Mac: Here’s how to do this
  • Clean the trackpad: Use a soft dry (or very slightly damp) cloth to clean the trackpad.
  • Use Apple Diagnostics to Identify any problems: Here’s our easy guide to do so.
  • Disconnect all wired and wireless peripherals: Sometimes, disconnecting all wired and Bluetooth devices like mice, trackpads, etc. may help.
  • Factory reset your mac and set it up as new: Step by step learn how to do this here
  • Contact Apple Support: If nothing helps, it’s time to talk to Apple Support or pay them an in-store visit.

Wrapping up…

We hope one of the solutions above addressed your MacBook’s trackpad issues. If your Mac’s trackpad is still not working, let us know more about your situation in the comments.

Have any other Apple-related questions? We’ll do our best to answer them!

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Author Profile

Marcus is a freelance tech writer/editor with a focus on succinctly explaining consumer devices and their software. His previous work has been published on MakeUseOf where he covered everything from iOS to Git and UI design.

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