MacBooks forum

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Macbook Pro Touchpad Problems

by larzuk / August 16, 2010 3:31 PM PDT

When i use my touchpad, it sometimes acts as if i constantly have it held down and even with 1 finger on it it reacts as if its constantly reacting to me highlighting text. Not sure why this occurs, and i have resorted to using a mouse for some occasions and when this occurs i have to make sure my touchpad isn't highlighting stuff or else my mouse won't work 100%. Any help would be appreciated.

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Even having one finger resting on the touchpad
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / August 16, 2010 9:56 PM PDT

will cause it to "do" something.

Remember it is a Touch Pad and as such will respond to any input from your tactile digits and it is not necessary to "hold down" the pad for a reaction to occur.


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This can also be
by Jimmy Greystone / August 16, 2010 10:33 PM PDT

This can also be a side effect of a battery that is starting to swell. And even if your system is brand new, it doesn't necessarily rule out that possibility.

So, it couldn't hurt to take a quick look at your battery to see if there are any obvious signs of it swelling. If there are signs of swelling, you should make arrangements to remove the battery ASAP, because swelling batteries will eventually explode, and that is very dangerous.

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Trackpad may be missing Grounding Strap
by magaleener / January 28, 2011 2:00 AM PST
In reply to: This can also be

After owning my My 13" macbook pro for about 6 months, the trackpad started to malfunction. The cursor would stick, jump around erratically, move when I tried to click on something (causing me to open apps and windows I didn't want to) and open the running application menu that is typically opened when you click Command+Tab without me even touching the computer! It seemed possessed. I called Apple and they thought that it might be a swelling battery or that I might need to replace the trackpad. Since the battery is internal, I needed to bring it to a repair shop to have it diagnosed. As it turned out, the trackpad didn't have a "Grounding Strap" and that's what was causing the erratic behavior. It seems to be working much better now. I hope this helps other mac users who are having similar issues.

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Not all of them
by Jimmy Greystone / January 28, 2011 9:33 AM PST

Not all of them have a ground strap, and it's part of the top case when they do, so not a small thing to get fixed. On unibody MacBook (Pros) that basically requires rebuilding the entire system in a different case.

And the "grounding strap" is really nothing particularly special. It doesn't even connect to any of the data portions of the trackpad, so not really sure what it's grounding. It generally doesn't do you a lot of good to have a ground connection a great distance away from where your data/power connections are going to be running. If you took it somewhere, they probably replaced the entire top case which came with a new trackpad. Then they fed you some BS line about a grounding strap for some reason. I'd actually guess that you just remembered what they told you incorrectly.

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grounding strap
by magaleener / January 28, 2011 8:28 PM PST
In reply to: Not all of them

yeah, that so called "gounding strap" solved the problem for all of an hour. So I brought it to the apple store where they are replacing the trackpad. Sounds like this is an issue with macbook pros...the guy next to me at the genius bar was having the same problem.

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Don't know about that
by Jimmy Greystone / January 28, 2011 9:20 PM PST
In reply to: grounding strap

Don't know about that. I run into surprisingly few trackpad replacements at work, and I fix Apple systems professionally. The main issue seems to be the temperature sensor in the trackpad will often go bad, and cause the fans to run at full speed all the time.

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so grounding strap or fan?
by sevillana25 / March 19, 2011 6:21 AM PDT
In reply to: Don't know about that

I have the exact same problem stated by "magaleener" above; 13 in macbook pro, got it in september 2010 and last week started having those problems as described. I read somewhere something about resetting the PRAM and I did that and that did nothing. But I also read somewhere about hitting the area to the right of trackpad with some force with your hand and that worked like a miracle. Which is why I am able to type this is working now. But, that is a temporary fix as I am not so keen on hitting my computer.

I am currently working in Spain and will have to take it into an apple service provider here. I still have apple care so the fix will be covered but I want to be as educated as I can before going in so I can be confident if my computer has to get something repaired or replaced.

Do you think maybe when I hit the computer it makes the temperature sensor or fan restart or run/stop running? So then my trackpad works?

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That would be dangerous
by Jimmy Greystone / March 19, 2011 8:55 AM PDT

That would be dangerous. On one side of the trackpad is the HDD, and then under the trackpad and all the way to the other side of the system is the battery. So, hitting the system over the battery OR the HDD would NOT be an advisable course of action. You may cause the battery to rupture or cause a head crash on the HDD.

If you got yours in september, it should still be under warranty, so take it somewhere to get it looked at. But if you keep hitting it, they're going to write it up as physical abuse and charge you for the repair.

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by sevillana25 / March 19, 2011 11:25 PM PDT

I only tapped it once so far, but thank you because you gave me enough reasons not to hit it again!

I just turned it on for the first time today and it isn't working. I will take it in tomorrow and report back on what they say.

Thanks for your help so far!

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Replacing the trackpad
by sevillana25 / March 20, 2011 11:40 PM PDT

I took my MacBook pro into an Apple Certified Technician today and he came to the conclusion that the problem was the trackpad. It is "atropellado" as he said. They are going to replace the trackpad.

I asked him if he had any idea of what specifically went wrong with the trackpad, or if he knew what was causing it to act that way. He said, "you have AppleCare so it will all be covered and be fixed." So I asked again and said I was just curious and he said it is such a small piece with electric charges, etc., (something to that effect, like it is an internal component of a computer) so it is hard to know. Which I believe but I also wish I knew more about what was going on with it. I guess that being his diagnosis of the problem doesn't mean he has to know why it happened or what is going on with it, just that that is the source of the problem. But I wonder if Apple knows why that happens. Anyone have any ideas?

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The trackpads
by Jimmy Greystone / March 21, 2011 10:36 AM PDT
In reply to: Replacing the trackpad

The trackpads used on MBPs can be kind of flaky. I've gotten numerous ones that have a defective temp sensor that causes the fans to go nuts. Not sure what it is, but I suspect there's probably just a bunch of bad ones floating around out there, and we just have to work though them.

If you figure the things are likely being made in lots of 1,000 or more, and quality control is done by statistical sampling, you could potentially have a significant quantity of defective parts slip through the cracks. That's pure speculation on my part of course, but it's not like Apple's ever going to come out and say what the problem was. They don't even tell their repair channel partners. It's always just some vague BS along the lines of, "We've determined that a high number of these parts seem to be suffering from this failure, so if you see it, mark the repair this way." You and I may not really like it, but you can't really argue with results. This insane level of secrecy seems to be working quite well for their bottom line.

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Trackpad replacement - unibody
by sevillana25 / March 21, 2011 5:54 PM PDT
In reply to: The trackpads

The AppleCare and warranty products are wonderful. Not only for the consumers, as there is little to no worry on their part when something goes wrong. But also for Apple, as they can easily maintain their stronghold of the market in terms of consumers' view of product quality and service...because if they ever did (or when they do/have, bc it is inevitable) put out 1,000 MacBook pros with faulty trackpads or send out 2,000 MacBooks with faulty batteries they can just wait until the computer malfunctions and the consumer can bring it it and get it questions asked to the consumer, no clear answers given to technicians. I am not familiar with apple and recalls but I am going to make a guess they don't recall or send out free repair services for faulty parts (when a large whole batch of products has a problem with a part, etc.) very often. Remember the iPhone model with that antenna problem? It was like pulling teeth for them to admit to a problem with that model...maybe they didn't...I don't remember exactly.

Yet, as this model works well for me in terms of repairs (at least for the first 3 years), and also helps maintain the "elite" status of my apple products...I am left with this love-hate or love-frustrated feelings over this company whose products I spend over half of everyday with...

So when the track pad is replaced does the whole frame around the keyboard and trackpad have to be replaced as well? I read some things on here mentioning the unibody, is that the model of the current MacBook pros and if so is the bottom casing all one piece, so the whole piece must be replaced?

Also, thanks for helping me understand the technician's side of things.

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Apple certainly does have product recalls,
by mrmacfixit Forum moderator / March 21, 2011 10:03 PM PDT

in so much as they extend a warranty or advise owners to take the machine in for a free repair.


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Indeed they do
by Jimmy Greystone / March 21, 2011 11:34 PM PDT

Indeed they do... Seems to have slowed down a bit lately, but for a long time I was making a small fortune in labor reimbursements for systems with bad nVidia graphics chips. Did so many of them, that the whole process of replacing the logic board is now about a 30 minute task for me, start to finish.

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Now that I have more time
by Jimmy Greystone / March 22, 2011 10:26 AM PDT

Now that I have more time, I can address a couple of other things.

Apple is like any other company, and they don't want to have to admit that there's a problem with any of their products. That's expensive, and so they want to keep things quiet. It's a game of financial calculus that every company goes through. If the estimated costs of doing nothing exceed those of a recall, they'll do a recall, otherwise they will steadfastly refuse to do anything. Auto makers and drug companies are the masters of this.

But if you figure they're making parts in lots of 10,000 or so, testing each part individually before it leaves the factory just isn't a viable option. It'd be too costly and time consuming. So they use statistical sampling, which means that sometimes a bunch of good parts will be scrapped, and sometimes a bunch of bad parts will make it into the wild. Just the nature of the game.

As for the trackpad, it can be replaced apart from the top case. It's kind of a pain because they have these tiny little PH000 screws holding the thing in, and nothing strips like tiny little philips screws, let me tell ya. It's really fun on the older style MacBook Air's, where there's 13 of the little buggers holding the display assembly on. One or two strip, and it's more fun than a barrel of monkeys sorting it out. But the whole unibody name is kind of a misnomer with the laptops. All they did was flip the construction order on its head. instead of a bottom up construction, it's a top to bottom method. For MOST repairs this actually simplifies things immensely, but it makes things like display assembly replacements more of a pain. None of this really matters to non-techs however. It matters to people like me, and non-Apple AASPs who end up being used as Apple's bad guy. We're the ones who have to tell people that this or that can't be covered, and then they go whine to Apple who will play the white knight and fix it.

If you think you have a love-hate relationship, you should go to a local AASP and talk to some people.

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This hit actually solved my problem
by FotoCellar / December 22, 2012 9:20 AM PST

"Hitting the area to the right of trackpad with some force with your hand "

Thanks man.

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by kalaboration / February 19, 2013 5:08 AM PST

whacking the right side of the track pad with an open hand worked for me too . . . lololol

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