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

June 11, 2012 / Updated: February 1, 2016 / Lena Shore

  • 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.
Posted in

Lena Shore

Lena is a full-time freelancer and nerd that specializes in web development, graphic design, and illustration. She enjoys building things, learning new things, pursuing creative endeavors, and giving free advice.


  1. Bobpixel on October 29, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    I tried several of these and then eventually removed the little rubber button feet from under the trackpad, cleaned those, and now the thing appears to be working correctly.

  2. Rianne on August 9, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    The wacom tab was not updated! thank u so much for these tips! Ur true Hero!

  3. Shirley on April 25, 2013 at 2:53 am

    You gotta laugh. Cleaned my trackpad and working beautifully. How silly do I feel. Now to the keyboard. Thanks!

  4. Ryan on March 7, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Holy crap! I did the power cord trick and my Magic Trackpad started to work again! THANKS!

  5. David on February 23, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Hey excellent article.. I think I will have to go the store and maybe loose a leg to pay for repair it.. ( Im from Argentina… ) but in first approach, thanks k myles!!!, at least I can use it!

  6. k myles on January 30, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Hey i have a solution i have a Bluetooth mouse and my trackpad was still going crazy so to disable it type universal access in the search bar and then click on trackpad near the bottom and turn off!!!:) this can not be accessed by just the regular control panel

    • Lena Shore on January 31, 2013 at 8:16 am

      Interesting tip! I’m running Mountain Lion and had to access this by going to:
      Apple –> System Preferences –> Accessibility –> Mouse & Trackpad.


  7. SparklingKirsty on January 23, 2013 at 1:16 am

    Same thing happening to my Mac Book, cursor going wild opening and closing files etc. Tried zapping P-RAM, it worked!

  8. Art on January 7, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    I just found a weird cause for my trackpad issue. I have an aftermarket power adapter I bought on Ebay. 85W L-shape Replacement AC MagSafe Power Adapter for Apple MacBook 15″ 17″
    My track pad would get very twitchy after warm up and I was just about ready to take it to my Mac Dr. However, I decided to check the trackpad before I left for the doc. Well! lo and behold when off the charger there was no issue. When connected the issue would reappear immediately!
    So Now I’ll take the charger w me to the Doc and see if they can replicate it. Or see if it happens with an Apple charger. Will report back after a vist to DC Computers.

  9. Laurel H. on September 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Thanks for this. When I read the first fix (clean it), I wiped it with the sleeve of my sweater. Magic! It works! And I feel like an idiot!

    • Lena Shore on September 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      LOL. That’s classic. Thanks for the share.

  10. Fabricio Cantu on June 28, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Great advice, I have been looking for a way to tame my crazy trackpad and this (eliminating the wacom tablet driver and reinstalling) finally did the trick.



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