An unresponsive trackpad is one of the most frustrating malfunctions for MacBook users. It limits your interaction with the graphical user interface and affects your MacBook’s performance. This impacts directly whatever you are doing on the MacBook. So, to avoid the inconvenience you need to find a solution fast.
In this article, we will look at the possible reasons why your MacBook keyboard and trackpad are not working, and their remedies.
Why is your MacBook trackpad not clicking?
When your MacBook trackpad stops clicking suddenly, you could be dealing with a software or hardware issue.
The software problems range from using an outdated macOS, installing a new update, and a malfunctioning app, to incorrect system settings.
The hardware issues, on the other hand, include a swollen battery, water damage, and other physical damages to the trackpad.
Now, let’s discuss the solutions.
How to fix an unresponsive trackpad on a MacBook
If your MacBook trackpad is not clicking because of a software issue, you can easily fix the problem by trying out the solutions listed below, but if it’s a hardware issue, you’ll have to look for an Apple technician to do the repairs.
Now, without wasting more time, here is what you should do when your MacBook pro trackpad won’t click.
1. Reboot your MacBook
This is a simple solution to a lot of MacBook issues, including your trackpad not clicking. The steps to follow are:
- Launch the “Apple Menu”.
- Click on “Restart”.
- After the reboot, close the lid of your device to put it to sleep.
- After 3-4 minutes, open the lid and check if the trackpad is clicking.
2. Disable the Force Click feature
When using the trackpad on your MacBook, you can either force click or tap to click. They differ in the amount of force needed to press the trackpad to get a response. As their names suggest, force click requires more pressure than tap to click.
That said, you should try and disable force click on your MacBook to see if it solves your problem.
- Click on the Apple logo at the top-left corner.
- Select “System Preferences”.
- Click on “Trackpad”.
- Under “Point & Click”, toggle OFF “Force Click & haptic feedback”.
- Finally, adjust how forcefully you’ll need to click or tap the trackpad to get a response.
3. Reset the trackpad
Even though changing your trackpad settings to suit your needs and preference helps to personalize the user experience, it can alter a few things in the background that lead to your MacBook trackpad not clicking.
In such cases, the ideal solution is to reset the trackpad to factory settings. Follow the guide below:
- Go to “Apple Menu”.
- Select “System Preferences”.
- Click on “Trackpad”.
- Ensure “Tap to Click” is unselected.
- Check “Scroll & Zoom” too. Here, the “Scroll direction: Natural” should be selected.
- You can restart your MacBook then check if the trackpad is clicking.
4. Update the macOS Software
If your MacBook Pro trackpad is not physically clicking because of a software bug, you can easily solve the issue by updating to the latest macOS. This is because Apple releases software updates with security patches, bug fixes, and overall system improvements.
Here is how to update your software on MacBook:
- Open the Apple Menu.
- Select “System Preferences” or ”About this Mac”.
- Click on “Software Update”.
- If there’s an update available, click the “Update” button to install.
NOTE: In cases where the trackpad is not clicking on MacBook air after a software update, you should consider downgrading to the previous version. Especially if the new update is a beta version of an upcoming macOS.
5. Delete the Trackpad Property List (PLIST)
The PLIST files store the apps’ user settings and preferences on your Mac. They’re created automatically and updated by the macOS. Unfortunately, the files can develop errors or become outdated and cause the clicking problem on your MacBook.
When that happens, you need to delete the PLIST files to reset your trackpad to factory settings. Follow this guide:
- Open “Finder”.
- You can click “Go”, then the “Go to Folder” or press the Command + Shift + G keys simultaneously.
- Type “-/Library/Preferences” and click “Enter/Go”
- Find the following files and delete them. In case one is missing move to the next one.
- Restart you MacBook
6. Reset PRAM or NVRAM
NVRAM (Non-Volatile Random Access Memory) and PRAM (Parameter Random Access Memory) are used by MacBook to store settings like display resolutions, sound volume, time zone, kernel panic information, and startup-disk selection for quick access. When you reset the two RAMs it could help to solve the unresponsive trackpad.
Here are the steps to follow:
- Shut down your MacBook.
- Wait for 30-60 seconds.
- Turn it on then press and hold Command + Option + P + R keys instantly at the same time.
- Wait for 20 seconds and release when the MacBook restarts.
- For MacBooks that play a startup sound, release the keys on the second startup sound. If the Mac uses the Apple T2 security chip, release the keys when the Apple logo disappears for the second time.
7. Reset SMC
The System Management Controller (SMC) helps to run functions and processes like the keyboard, battery, LED indicators, CPU, and power button on Intel-powered MacBooks.
So, if your MacBook trackpad is not clicking, you can try and reset the SMC to see if fixes the problem. Here is the guide to follow to reset SMC for different MacBook models.
MacBooks with T2 chip (Released in 2018 or later)
- Turn OFF the MacBook completely and ensure it’s unplugged from the power source.
- Plugin the power supply after 15 seconds.
- Wait for 5 seconds then turn ON the MacBook.
MacBooks released in 2017 or earlier
- Turn OFF your MacBook.
- Press and hold the Control + Shift + Option keys simultaneously.
- While still holding the three keys, press and hold the power button.
- Wait for 7-10 seconds then release all the keys.
- Wait for a few seconds before turning ON your MacBook.
MacBook with a removable battery
- Shut down your MacBook and give it time to power OFF completely.
- Remove the battery.
- Press and hold the power button for at least 5 seconds.
- Reinstall the battery and turn ON your MacBook.
Change the double click speed to normal speed
- Click the Apple logo at the top menu.
- Select “System Preferences”.
- Go to “Accessibility” then “Mouse & Trackpad”.
- Make the double click speed normal on the slider.
8. Use the MacBook in safe mode
If you suspect your MacBook air M1 trackpad is not clicking because of interference by third-party apps, switch to safe mode to be sure. This will inadvertently remove system caches and fix directory issues too.
How to put the Intel-Based MacBook Pro in safe mode
- Go to the “Apple menu”
- Click on “Shut down”
- Wait for 10 seconds then press the power button to restart your Mac
- Immediately press and hold the shift key until you see the login Window
How to put the M1 MacBook Pro in safe mode
- Open the “Apple Menu” and select “Shut Down”
- 10 minutes after it has shut down completely, press and hold the power button
- Startup options will appear on your screen
- Choose a startup disk
- Press and hold the shift key
- Click on “Continue in Safe Mode”
- Release the shift key
NOTE: To exit safe mode, restart the Mac normally.
If you notice the MacBook trackpad working properly in safe mode, but stops clicking in normal mode, then one of your installed third-party apps is causing the problem.
You can delete them one by one while checking if the unresponsiveness has been rectified until you get to the app(s) that triggers the problem.
9. Run a diagnostic check
To be sure that the reason your trackpad won’t click is not software related, you need to run a diagnostic check using the guide below:
- Disconnect your MacBook from all external devices.
- Power OFF the MacBook.
- For an intel-powered Mac, turn it ON then press the D key immediately. Release it when you see a screen asking you to select your language. Select the language and let the diagnostic check finish.
- For an Apple silicon Mac, turn it ON and press the power button instantly. When the startup options window shows up, release the power button and press Command-D keys on your keyboard.
- At the end of the diagnostics, the device will suggest solutions for all the issues it found, complete with reference codes.
- Write down the codes.
- Next, you can either:
- Press Command-R to repeat the test.
- Press R or click Restart to Restart your Mac.
- Click Shutdown or Press S to turn OFF your Mac.
- Click Get Started or press Command-G to get more details on the service and support options available.
- For this option, you’ll be asked to select your region or country. You can then click “Agree to Send” to send your device’s serial number and reference codes to Apple.
- Lastly, follow the on-screen instructions then shutdown or restart your MacBook.
- Ideally, you can install third-party software to perform the diagnostic check automatically at a scheduled time.
Other viable solutions you can use include reinstalling your macOS through recovery mode if it’s corrupted and erasing your hard disk to set up the MacBook as new. For both fixes, make sure you backup your data.
10. Contact Apple Support
If you’ve tried all the solutions above and still your trackpad is not clicking on MacBook air, then it’s time to contact Apple support.
Chances are your device has a hardware problem. The technicians will provide a thorough inspection of your MacBook, accurate diagnosis, and reliable solutions.
Hopefully, one of these solutions helps you to solve your MacBook trackpad not clicking problem. It might take some time to try all of them, but the convenience of using your trackpad seamlessly would be worth the hassle. Do let us know the solution that worked for you.
Alex is an IT technician who shares his experiences with Apple devices occasionally. He has a collection of Apple devices (from iPhone 4) and has recently started trying out Android.
IG: @I M_Alex