Who would have thought that a swollen battery would knockout my MacBook Pro’s trackpad. Not I, but it is true.
Over the past few months I’ve been having odd issues with the trackpad on my 15 inch, late 2008 MBP. It would often start out a session fine but get less responsive until it just refused to click. Swipe gestures were fine, but clicking was like tapping on a counter top, nothing happened. The reassuring click was gone. This progressed until the trackpad no longer clicked at all. To make matters worse plugging in a mouse didn’t help. The USB mouse’s behavior was erratic and useless.1»
I figured I was looking at either some sort of costly repair or a challenging DIY project to replace the trackpad. So my Internet research began. A search for “macbook pro trackpad broken” yields all sorts of interesting results, most resulting in the replacement of the wonky trackpad. A few reports seemed to indicate that recent software updates to OSX were at issue and suggested software fixes. Those didn’t work. I figured I was looking at a pricey repair, but I kept digging mostly with an eye toward a DIY repair.
Then it appeared, a couple of mentions that battery issues could be the cause. Reports that removing the battery got the trackpad working again. Finally a post or two indicating that aging MBP batteries had a tendency to swell. Since the battery sits directly below the trackpad, the swell pushes on the trackpad and prevents clicking. The pressure is also registered as a continual hold on the pad causing unpredictable behavior or the computer and cursor and messing with input from external devices like a USB mouse.2»
I flipped my Mac over and took out the battery, plugged the MBP into the wall and booted it up. And the trackpad worked like it was brand new. Now I just need a new battery, not a couple hundred dollars of repairs.