Does your Magic Trackpad have a mind of it’s own?

June 11, 2012 / Updated: February 1, 2016 / Lena Shore
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  • My Apple Trackpad is going crazy.
  • My Apple Trackpad is possessed.
  • My Apple Trackpad is pissing me off.
  • My Apple Trackpad is clicking on things by itself.
  • My Apple Trackpad is skipping around without me touching it.
  • My Apple Trackpad has phantom clicks.

If you have found yourself saying one of the things above you have come to the right place. Not long ago my faithful Trackpad was giving me some serious problems. It was working great and then one day it started doing things I didn’t tell it to — skipping, clicking, deleting big chunks of text I had just typed. It wasn’t pretty. I started researching and founds lots of suggestions for help. I’m not promising that this is an exhaustive list, but it should give you a place to start.

Possible fixes for your Apple Magic Trackpad’s bad behavior.

  • Check to make sure you don’t have any other wireless navigation devices (wireless mice, tablets, etc) close to your trackpad. If so, move it way. Far away. Or try turned them off.
  • Do you have a USB wireless dongle plugged in somewhere (like for a wireless mouse or tablet). If so, try unplugging it.
  • Clean it with Window cleaner or alcohol. Turns out, if you get a film of oils from your hands (or Cheetos) on it, it can change it’s responsiveness.
  • Dry it. If your Apple Magic Trackpad has any kind of moisture on it (perspiration, Windex, alcohol, or Mountain Dew) it won’t work right.
  • Take off your jewelry. The metal may be interfering with the trackpad’s sensitivity either by close proximity or actually contact.
  • Got a Wacom tablet? Uninstall the driver for it and reinstall the latest driver.
  • Replace the battery. Low batteries can cause problems.
  • Check the drag function.  There are two places to turn it off.   The “three finger drag” is set in System Preferences > Trackpad > Point & Click tab. The other is the double tap with one finger method that is set in System Preferences > Universal Access > Mouse & Trackpad –> Trackpad options button –> uncheck Dragging.
  • Zap your P-RAM: Restart your computer and when you hear the first chime, immediately press down the P, R, Command, and Option keys all at once. Keep holding them for a minute until your computer chimes again and release. I have occasionally fixed things that helped by letting it chime twice before I let go – so I usually do two chimes for good measure.
  • Check your RAM. A reader reported upgrading their RAM from 4G to 8G fixed their problem.
  • Reset the SMC (System Management Controller). (NOTE: if you have something other than a Mac Pro, Intel-based iMac, intel-based Mac Mini, or Intel-based Xserve go read the full Apple document for instructions) Try each of the following steps in this order before you reset the SMC.  Test the issue after completing each troubleshooting step to determine if the issue still occurs.
  1. Press Command + Option + Escape to force quit any application that is not responding.
  2. Put your Mac to sleep by choosing the Apple () menu from the upper-left menu bar and then choosing Sleep. Wake the computer after it has gone to sleep.
  3. Restart your Mac by by choosing the Apple () menu from the upper-left menu bar and then choosing Restart.
  4. Shut down your Mac by by choosing the Apple () menu from the upper-left menu bar and then choosing Shut Down.

Resetting the SMC

  1. Shut down the computer.
  2. Unplug the computer’s power cord.
  3. Wait fifteen seconds.
  4. Attach the computer’s power cord.
  5. Wait five seconds, then press the power button to turn on the computer.
  • And finally… If all else fails and you are still under warranty, take it to Apple.