The trackpad sensor on my 2011 MacBook Pro recently went berserk making my laptop virtually unusable. I had read about the device’s sensitivity to moister and was concerned that I had damaged the sensor recently by getting a few rain drops on it.
Problem symptoms: random cursor movement, random clicks, failure to recognize or correctly identify mutli-touch gestures…
First thing I tried was to shut the laptop down, covering the keyboard with a phone book, and letting the unit sit with rice poured over the trackpad for 30-hours in an attempt to dry out any moister that could have worked its way into the trackpad sensor (water droplets can easily get through the seam around the trackpad). But this didn’t work.
I then tracked down directions to reset the unit’s system management controller (SMC) and reflash its internal PRAM. This worked like a charm for me. I’m not exactly sure what went wrong but this latest procedure solved my problem.
Here’s what I did to reset the SMC and PRAM:
Note: These directions are specific to unibody MacBook’s that do not have a removable battery. If you have a different model MacBook, you’ll need to track down the model-specific “secret handshakes” required to affect SMC/PRAM reset. Also, make sure your data and hard work is backed up! I had no problem that does not mean you won’t.
- Plug the unit in and ensure it’s powered OFF
- Press and release LEFT-SHIFT + CTRL + LEFT-OPTION + POWER and then release
- Ensure the unit is powered OFF
- Press and hold LEFT-COMMAND + LEFT-OPTION + ‘P’ + ‘R’ + POWER (continue to hold this key combination through the power-up boot cycle)
If you have a similar issue, hopefully the above procedure works for you as well as it did for me.
Note that in OSX Mavericks, in System | Accessibility you can select an option that disables the trackpad if an external mouse is connected (e.g. Bluetooth). I’ve selected this option proactively so that if this ever happens again, simply connecting my Bluetooth mouse will disable the trackpad and allow me to use the laptop.
If this doesn’t help you, your trackpad might actually be fried. Nobody would give me an exact quote but ballpark you’re looking at $150+ repair and a week w/out your MacBook. Or, $50-75 in parts and an afternoon watching YouTube repair videos and tinkering with small screws to affect the fix yourself.