Glass Trackpad Issues Arising for New MacBook Users

Glass Trackpad Issues Arising for New MacBook Users

Erratic behavior with the glass trackpad on new Mac notebooks appears to be a growing concern for some Apple customers. A buyer emailed Steve Jobs over the weekend complaining the trackpad on his new MacBook Pro was not registering physical clicks consistently and received a telephone response from Apple support indicating the company is investigating the matter, according to a report today at AppleInsider.

A survey of the discussion forums on the Apple website indicates nearly 100 threads have been opened in the past week on the subject of “trackpad problem” for the new unibody aluminum notebooks, with most users complaining the trackpad does not always register a click when it should, while some also report the pad loses all functionality at its outer edges, and several believe the sensitivity of the trackpad leads to erratic, unpredictable behavior.

With any new product there is bound to be something of a learning curve while users become familiar with its capabilities, and the new trackpads certainly have been designed to support a wide range of two, three, and four-finger gestures that could be causing some users confusion and frustration.

I asked my colleague Pete Mortensen, who wrote glowingly about his new MacBook a couple of weeks ago, how he’s finding life with the new trackpad. “I actually do get some of those issues some of the time – not always, but sometimes,” he says, noting, “it’s worst in the bottom edge dead center. Moving up a little or millimeters to the side fixes it.”

How about you, dear reader? Have you found the new trackpads quirky? And if so, do you think it’s something you’ll get used to, or does Apple have a production issue on its hands?

I asked Pete if the trackpad behavior made him long for his 12’ PowerBook G4 and he replied, “I don’t miss my 12’ G4 at all!”

  • Stu

    I’ve the new macbook 2.4ghz backlit. I have noticed the physical click (not tap to click) sometimes doesn’t register. The only other issue is that the button is just a bit too firm and loud, more a clunk than a click.

  • denny

    I love the new trackpad on my MacBook Pro (Late 2008). I picked it up at the local Apple store the first day the store had them in stock.

    The only problem I’ve had is sometimes the finger tap doesn’t register but I found since my hands are very dry moistening them seems to solve most of the problems.

  • Thomas Clancy

    My machine (maxed out Macbook) is a nightmare of crashes on “wake from sleep” about 1 out of every 3 times, and the trackpad is largely non functional. Every single application just refuses to accept the movement, or my clicks. The unit is amazing when its awake, and when I’m using a keyboard/mouse, but thats just not acceptable.

    My company is an Apple repair center, so I’m swapping my logic board out tomorrow, to see if its a per-board issue. If not, then I’ll take this sonuvagun to the apple store and brain someone with it.

  • Tom

    yes, me too. the trackpad click sometimes doesn’t register. it seems to happen especially when I’m trying to highlight text or otherwise combine clicking and dragging. I’ve discovered that lifting all other fingers off the trackpad when clicking usually solves the problem – but this is awkward or impossible when you are highlighting text.

  • Herzog

    For those about to buy a first-generation Apple product… good luck!

    Hence my golden rule of always waiting for at least the second iteration.

  • Jared

    I’m quite glad I bought the last-gen MacBook. First there was the hinge (intentional or not) and now trackpad. Even though these problems are concerning MacBook Pros (only?), it seems like revision A is a no-no, even when we are talking about Apple’s products.

  • midclass

    My new macbook it’s my first notebook ever and the trackpad is just amazing! I don’t have any problem with it, and the gestures are really something i can’t live without anymore.
    Maybe because I never had a macbook before, but the learning curve it’s almost vertical, the gestures comes natural after 2 minute of study in the system preferences.
    Well.. it’s just work! :P

  • David

    Tom,

    I second the statement – lifting my finger before I click has greatly reduced the problem.

  • Mark

    Christ all mighty, when will Apple release a new laptop that is not hamstrung by some stupid faulty element? This is getting so frustrating. I purchased the new MacBook Pro in 2006 and have suffered through the over-heating and wake from sleep issues for the past 2 years. Now, I await my new MacBook only to hear that I get to suffer through this BS again. I suppose I will keep using the old MBP for several more weeks while I test the new laptop and return it to an Apple Store if it is not up to par. The biggest problem for me is once I fully commit to using my new computer for work, it becomes indispensable and I can’t send it back and wait out the possible repair…not this time Apple.

  • tcbritt

    I sold my MBP on ebay and got a new macbook and couldnt be happier with it. The trackpad is taking some getting use to, but doesnt bother me that much.

  • xJane

    heh. dittos to Herzog.

  • ithott

    I’ve had the new (late 2008) MBP, fully loaded, for 3 days. I am noticing that the track pad is certainly not as responsive to push clicks as my previous MBP. However, I think this is largely to due the fact that the size of the “click-able” area is so enormous. It does seem that, overall, the new MBP is composed of cheaper grade aluminum and plastic components and does have a clunkier click sound than its predecessor.

    In all honesty, I think I like my old (4,1) MBP better then the new (5,1) one. Only time will tell I guess.

  • Mix

    The cursor seems to stick at flashing insert point and the Arrow Pointer does not always appear when gliding on track pad. Very Slow response. BUMMER!

  • David

    My track pad is intermitent. The cursor arrow freezes after a few seconds use then works again, then freezes again, then works again, then…..

    Very annoying…..easily solved with a mouse, but not really the point…..

  • Bill

    I just got a new MacBook Pro and I’ve been very frustrated at times with the trackpad. No problems with the click. But I do find it is sometimes unresponsive when moving the cursor. Sometimes the cursor disappears altogether and I need to look for it. Other times the cursor stalls and my finger movement doesn’t move the cursor. I thought it was a problem with the particular unit so I exchanged it for another one at the Apple Store. But the new one is behaving exactly the same.
    I’ve owned about 5 previous generation MacBook Pros and I never recall this problem from previous models. It really makes using the new MP a little stressful. I hope it can be address in a software update.

  • Matthew

    I just bought a new macbook pro and the tracking pad is completely erratic. It often will just freeze up, especially around the outer regions of the pad. It is even more likely to freeze when I am pressing (clicking) and dragging at the same time. If I limit myself to only using the lower center portion of the pad it works much better. I went to an apple store and found that almost all of the floor models with this new track pad were also responding erratically. After bringing it to the attention of one of the “geniuses” I was told that this wasn’t an issue that concerned customers and that was just how the track pads were designed to operate. Ouch!
    So, now what? I guess I’m stuck with a brand new $2700.00 laptop that will consistently drive me crazy and make me regret ever buying it.
    Just thought you would like to know.

  • Richard Stokes

    I play rapid chess on ICC.
    The new trackpad can be a pain. It slows things down. Pieces move less effectively.
    Time is squandered.
    A step backwards, I’m afraid.

  • Thomas

    My cursor freezes several time during just trying to use MacMail. For a while, it can function adequately, then it freezes and does not follow a single finger, done just right, in the middle of the trackpad. Plus clicks do not register well, nor for instance “holding down”. Trying to use the tiny attacmeht save button for save all nearly impossible at times. While there are users without these problems it must then simply mean that there are units that are faulty. And MANY of them.
    THIS FRECK CURSOR got just stuck when trying to SEND this message.

  • Hamish

    The cursor sticks and becomes non-responsive with the glass trackpad. The arrow keys will still get you around in text, but it slows you down and works you up. My MacBook Pro also seems to have some issues with second monitors, which come up with a different, random selection of mirroring and extension after every boot. I have had a couple of hard crashes, with no recourse but to hold the power key and reboot. My old G4 laptop never did that in 6 years. But the new screen is nice, and the two-finger scroll is great when it works.

  • Eric

    My Macbook works flawlessly – I’ve had no problems with the clicking, but I actually don’t click that much, I definitely prefer to tap instead. I agree with the person above who now finds the 2,3,4 finger gestures indispensible. I will say that when I first got the machine, I had trouble with the trackpad becoming unresponsive but figured out that it was because I had all of my fingers too close to the surface. After figuring this out and readjusting the way I hold my hand when I’m mousing around seems to have fixed the problem.

    This is the most problem free machine I have purchased from any manufacturer, ever. Hands down.

  • Justin Berkovi

    A definite problem. I just asked Apple for a complete refund on my 2nd new MacBook. After browsing through forums including comments on Apple’s own site I really think the new trackpad problem is a major issue for Apple right now. In fact I’d go as far to say that they may have a very serious design flaw on their hands and I wonder what will happen.

    I’ve owned Macs and Powerbooks for years and just sold my first black MacBook. After trying my best to perservere with the new MacBook I just couldn’t cope with it.

    The click of the trackpad seems completely random – but mainly it’s totally unreliable and makes working on the MacBook impossible. Especially if you’re running something like Ableton LIVE where a ‘misclick’ would ruin a set.

    Then I’ve found completely erratic behaviour of the trackpad – sometimes it seems to stick on click and drag even when that option is not ticked in preferences.

    I’m basically now in disbelief – I NEED a laptop for my work but have sold my old MacBook but the new MacBook and MacBook Pro seem completely pointless at the moment until a solution is sought to fix what seems a real design flaw.

  • BOBDOLE’s

    Just having purchased the new 2.4 fully loaded MacBook, and being my third MB, I assumed life with my new Mac would be good and come naturally. Not so much. Trackpad “sticks” or “Freezes”, Click is a CLUNK that has a 50/50 response, and my gestures are also like gambling. I have been studying the “Everything You Need To Know”+”Everything Else” as well as researching Apple.com and Mac forums in hopes that my problems with the new glass pad was just my own incompetence regarding the switch from my previous MacBook. I have either purchased one highly advanced notebook with a dud trackpad OR I have leveled my learning curve a week into my new Mac. Anyone with any updates or any news?? Please??

  • Dr E

    I returned one MacBook pro because of this. The second machine is worse. Hugely frustrating. Apple service is clueless.

  • Laura

    Yup, I bought a new macbook a few weeks ago – on the third day of use, the trackpad stopped working. Clicks still register sometimes, but the cursor doesn’t respond to any finger movements. Inexplicably, the trackpad will periodically “wake up” and start working again sometimes, but never for more than 10 minutes at a time. Apple service people are clueless and just have you restart the computer over and over again, to no avail. I’m pretty pissed off – I wish I had never bought this stupid thing. I’m off to the “Genius” bar to register my complaint and see if I can exchange or return.

  • Mickey McRoberts

    Bought my MacBook to replace my PowerBook G4 after 3-1/2 years of great service. I had great expectations for this computer (still have) until I ended up at your helpful site, CultofMac. I have adapted and enjoyed the additional features of the new trackpad but am very concerned about what Mac can do to fix some very annoying occurrances. In fact, just now made a typo…went to move cursor back for to delete and replace the wrong character and here are the series of miscues that occurred:

    1. cursor stayed put until 4th solo swipe with my right middle finger only. To be perfectly clear, that means the arrow moved but the cursor itself remained stationery.

    2. next I clicked 4 times with the arrow where I wanted the active cursor (I counted) with my right thumb, making no attempt to click at a specific spot (tends to naturally occur slightly lower-left of dead center on the trackpad before the cursor became active.

    There have been several [numerous] more of these events as I have been preparing this blog that I will not dissect. Suffice it to say they are occurring ad nauseum.

    I am guessing Apple may have to conduct a recall if this issue is as ubiquitous as this blog anecdotally indicates it may be. Who knows what the real stat is? Yikes. Just before Googling my way here, I had looked in Preferences to see if there was some sensitivity adjustment to assist in correcting the issue. Wish it were so, but did not find one.

    Apple is a GREAT company by nearly any yardstick you can imagine. For users who don’t yet know or accept this FACT you will see this is true, Apple will fix this one way or another. In my experience and observation they just do not wither or hide from issues (no, I am not an employee but I am a disciple! who will NEVER voluntarily go back to PCs). Hopefully this will be a software fix, not the alternative. Patience required. Don’t bail out on Apple yet!

  • Jorge Baggio

    Trackpad three and four finger function dont work.. some body can help me???
    Is hardware problem or software… my email (sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)
    thanks
    Jorge Baggio

  • Jordan

    I’ve been using this new macbook for less than 20 minutes, and this issue is the first thing i noticed. I google my problem only to find out that hundreds of others are experiencing the same thing. Typical. My cursor freezes for a few seconds every few minutes. The center of the bottom is completely unresponsive, and the trackpad is un-clickable across the top inch. I should’ve known better than to buy a first gen. apple product….

    other than that, though. I adore this computer.
    Hopefully this can be fixed?

  • Chris

    I have been having problems with the tap click (not the physical click.) Every once in a while the trackpad fails to register the click. It also has had a problem registering the release of clicks; for instance the back button on Safari looks as if I’m clicking and holding, but I have to tap again to get it to release. It seems as though about 1 in 10 clicks has a problem, which is very frustrating. For the record I’ve owned a PowerBook G4 for several years now and have never had these problems. The PowerBook’s trackpad was flawless.

  • Roger Baer

    I thought I had got away with this. I have had the macbook for about 3 months and everything was perfect until this weekend. I much prefer the tap gestures. However, I have a big problem now scrolling on Safari with the two finger up and down gesture. The screen keeps splitting into multiple horizontal images. Bizarrely, when I “capture” the scroll bar itself on the right side of the screen, it works fine. Help! Has anyone else had this problem?

  • Boris

    I got one of those white Macbooks several months ago and -would never again buy Mac! Its sofware I find generally very unwieldy with difficult to find or altogether missing commands (at least for a long time pc user), and now the cheap, chinese made, “glassy” track pad is completely dead! Cheap and shoddy product overall…I’ll try my old Dell again, even though it’s wroght with anomalies and problems like nearly all pc’s…Technology should be assembled exclusively in high tech, high IQ countries like Japan or Germany.

  • Amey

    I just bought the new macbook w/ the fancy trackpad and I cannot stand it. It is difficult to press and as another user said it makes more of a clunk than a click. I like the old macbooks elevated “clicker”. It is extremely frustrating and the only thing that is nice about it is the scroll capabilities.

  • Mitch

    I just bought a refurb Mac Book Pro, probably one of the ones the people above have returned…

    With the trackpad firware update the clicking problem people mention is gone, or at least I’ve not seen it and mine came with the new firmware pre-installed. I recommend anyone having the clicking problem get the firmware update.

    However, I have a real problem with the cursor not responding when I haven’t been using it for awhile. That is to say that if I’ve been reading a long email or web page or if I’ve been typing for awhile, the cursor goes away and when I go to move it, some times it works, but often it is missing for several seconds before it shows up. Twice I counted to over 60 before the cursor re-appeared.

    I went to the Genius bar and they said that all of the new MBPs they just got in a few weeks ago for them to use have the same problem, but then she looked at mine and realized that it was WAY worse. Then, she changed my tracking speed in the Trackpad System Preferences to be faster. Significant improvement. I can get used to my cursor moving faster than I’m used to it moving. I could NOT get used to my cursor taking on average 20 seconds to show up again when I’ve been typing.

  • Sketchypapags

    Yea trackpad is not good very frustrating apple is getting out of control. Cant hold the dam phone a certain way all new products are going to SH**

  • Mike

    I as well have notices some quirky behavior , I have a 15″ MacBook Pro. I must also admit that this is my 12 th laptop and first Mac. It certainly wont be my last Mac. If Apple do find a design flaw, and that happens to the best of them, I hope they do whats wright and repair them all hassle free.

  • lisaflinn

    I have this same trackpad problem and I got it fix by sending back to Apple(forced them to fix it). They change the whole top case. I think the factor causing this problem is the manufacture quality of top case. Sad to say that I have to buy a second wrist rest skin after they replaced mine. Don’t you think that a MacBook Pro should match with a black wrist rest and trackpad? It look absolutely gorgeous. http://www.skinstyler.com/blac

About the author

Lonnie Lazar

Lonnie Lazar is a writer-musician-web designer-attorney. He writes about Apple for Cult of Mac and Mac|Life, and about VoIP and telecommunications for Voxilla. Follow Lonnie on Twitter @LonnieLazar, join the Cult of Mac on Facebook, and find Lonnie's photos on Flickr.

(sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)| Read more posts by .

Posted in Hardware, News, Top stories |