Unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro owners: Got a screw loose? Tighten your trackpad!

A common complaint about the trackpad in the new Unibody MacBooks (Pro included) is that the click you hear when you press the button is too loud, or it requires to much pressure to click down.

Personally, I had the opposite problem. My trackpad button was too squishy on the right side, but felt normal on the left. It was no big deal and I ignored it for months, but then I stumbled upon this post at macosxhints.com

As it turns out, unibody trackpad sensitivity issues can be fixed by tightening or loosening a singe, easy to access screw underneath the trackpad. And to get to it, all you have to do is remove the battery.

I fixed my trackpad sensitivity this weekend using this method. It’s so much better now! Definitely worth it for those brave enough.

Here is a picture of the screw on my macbook:

img_00031

Here are the steps:

1) remove battery and battery cover. You can see the underside of the trackpad once you remove the battery.

2) find tri-point screw on the now-exposed underside of the trackpad. It is the lone, centered screw at the top of the pad.

3) take a tri-point screwdriver or whatever else fits into the screw, and tighten/loosen it A LITTLE BIT. I suggest rotating the screw just 1/8th of a full rotation before testing it. The smallest adjustment can make a big difference!
Note: If you over-tighten it the trackpad will not click down at all. This happened to me and it was a little freaky at first. If this happens, just keep loosening the screw  (it may take a few full rotations) and putting pressure on the trackpad until it becomes unstuck. I don’t know what will happen if you loosen the screw too much, but it is obvious when the screw is overly loose so it wasn’t an issue for me.

4) Test your trackpad. Click it a bunch, and click all parts of it to make sure it feels right. You should test it with the battery back in and the battery cover back on for accurate results.

5) Repeat  step 3 and 4 until satisfied. It takes a lot of trial and error to get the screw position correct. I changed mine perhaps a dozen times before I was satisfied.

A few final points

– Just keep in mind that this type of modification isn’t covered by Apple’s warranty, so be careful

– Of course though, you do this at your own risk and I’m not responsible for any damage you may somehow cause

– If you’re happy with your trackpad, don’t do this. It’s only worth the time if you have an issue to fix.

If you go ahead with it though, good luck and I hope I helped!

Update: This was written for the older unibody macbook/pros with the battery door on the underside. From what I’ve seen though, the newer macbook pros without easily-replaceable batteries have the same adjustment screw. You’ll just have to go through a few extra steps to remove the battery first (which don’t look very difficult). Look at steps 5 and 6 here to see how that is done.


25 thoughts on “Unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro owners: Got a screw loose? Tighten your trackpad!

  1. All I can say is THANK YOU!

    So here is my story,

    Well to keep it short, I decided not to pay for my new macbook pro’s apple care plan (I’man idiot!) and 2 days after my complimentary apple care service ran out, my trackpad wouldn’t work. The sensitivity worked including multi touch genstures and tap to click but it would not register the physical click. So out of shier desperation of calling local service providers a d multiple genius appointments, all I( found was that the track pad had to be replaced. I refused paying 280 dollars to get it fixed and did some research until I ran into this post. I followed the steps and it worked flawlessly!

    To get perfect adjustments, I flipped the macbook screen facing my bed to the body of the laptop was sideways and i made slight rotrations while clicking simultaneously to get just the right fit and finally restarted and everything worked! Viola!

    I was so happy and also found that before my trackpad when completely dead, it would only register 50-75% of my clicks but now It registers every click!

    This post was a life saver!

    Thank you so much and happy new year!

  2. Is this for the newest macbook pro, the one with the 10 hour battery, and the black border around the screen. OR the older one with the gray border around the screen. I have the new one but i cant tell whitch one is in the pics of this post. It looks like the old one? CAN YOU HELP?

  3. Thanks a million for this well documented tip. My wife’s unibody 13″ MB was driving us both crazy with the need for 3-5 clicks of the trackpad sometimes to register a click.

    I followed these steps and after 3 adjustments got it working perfectly.

    The most difficult part was finding the best tool for the 3 point screw.

    I’m not sure if there is a way to try this with the MBPs with non-removable batteries.

    Thanks again – this was a huge help.

  4. Thanks for the tutorial!

    I’ve had the problem that it required too much pressure to click. Then I’ve loosen the screw 1/4 of turn and it worked! Then, to be precautious, I’ve tightened the screw 1/8 of a turn and it remains working. Simple like that.

    The meaning of the screw is to absorb the pressure, instead of making the electrical sensor absorb the excessive force. But, with the normal use, it gets worn, and then you have to loose a little bit (1/8 turn) the screw. That’s my theory.
    🙂

  5. Thank you!

    I thought my clicking days were over, I had to force myself to learn how to make do with tap to click and double tap to drag.. It’s been this way for about a year now.

    It got to the point where clicks would only register if I pushed and held hard in the bottom left corner of the trackpad, then still it was rare to get a response. The trackpad would make a very distinct ‘thunk’ when clicked.. It was totally unusable, but I’ve now tightened it up and every click is registering. This 2008 Macbook unibody is better than it’s ever been!

    Thanks again!

    1. You need to master the art of using the proper naming conventions for the products that you post about. NO Unibody MB or MBP allows for battery removal without removing the whole back of the unit. That is the point of unibody, to conserve space for better cooling and components. I am using a MBP unibody, and was happy to find your post, until I found that you had mislabeled your post. Thanks for nothing.

      1. Well for starters you are wrong becaue the first series of unibody macs did feature removable batteries. So go check your facts.

      2. Oh come on. Do a little Googling before calling my post useless. Like Chris said, this post originally applied to only the 2008 model unibody MacBook Pros (and non-pro unibody Macbook). After that first model, Apple tweaked the design. This post is still applicable, but you need to do a little more work now (see my update).

  6. Thanks mate, if it wasn’t for your post I’d have spent 100$ in a new trackpad instead of 2$ in a ebay tri-wing screwdriver😉

  7. Works great. Fixed my problem. I used one of those really small flathead screwdrivers. Thanks a bunch for the tutorial. I didn’t even have to restart the computer once. Clicking and Draging away!

  8. thanks a lot!!!! I was thinking in buying a trackpad but I found this Tutorial @ Delicious and its amazing!!! I wasn’t able to click since a month!!! Thank you!!!!!!

  9. This works for a MacbookPro 13″ 2009 Unibody. You will need to remove the back cover using a small phillips screw driver then use a tri wing screwdriver to remove battery (you will need to pull the battery connector I used a small flat head screw driver to pry it up. The trackpad screw is a T6 Torx wrench (not the tri wing as discussed in this instruction).

    Thanks this fixed my trackpad

  10. Awesome, awesome, awesome. Trackpad on my Macbook Pro 15″ was getting very insensitive, and this seems to have done the trick. Transformed my whackpad into a trackpad. Thanks!

  11. Thank you so much! I typed in “adjusting trackpad sensitivity macbook unibody” (or something close to that) and your post came up near the top. My clicks were rarely, barely registering anymore, which makes it very hard to log in to accounts, since tapping is not enabled at that point. After that, tapping takes over, so not a problem.

    Anyway, followed the instructions here; tightened the screw little by little while monitoring the result underneath on the pad. Too much and no click at all, backed off from that slightly. Works like new! All clicks register.

    Couldn’t convince my son to use tapping, so the computer had lots and lots of clicks on it. I suspect that may have contributed to the problem, and/or that screw may just loosen on its own through vibration. (it turned quite easily) Now, the strict rule is no clicking except for log-ins!

    Thanks again, I was almost ready to take the thing in to the (clone) Apple Store.

  12. I was having difficulty getting the screw at the right point, but figured out if you take the cover and battery out and then set the macbook upright with the uncovered portion setting over your work area you can watch the level of the trackpad in proportion to the upper case. Once you get this level you’ll want to get it just slightly below (about 1/8 to 1/4 turn) Then put the battery and cover back on and try it. Worked great for mine. =)

  13. Don’t know if anyone even checks this anymore but I just wanted to send a quick thank you to the author of this article… I have had to forcefully push my trackpad to get it to register the click for the past few months now, trying to work a new trackpad into my budget. I came across this article tonight as I was trying to get price info on a replacement trackpad and figured I would try the advice out. Lo and behold it worked perfectly and as a reviewer mentioned above, I also feel like I’m using a brand new Macbook again! So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for taking the time to compose this very useful information!

  14. All I can add is what are recorded as Steve’s last words: Oh WOW. We had a sticky liquid accident with my spouse’s 2008 MacBook yesterday, and in the process of cleaning the trackpad gap, suddenly lost clicks.

    I’d tried the alternative method of placing some alumin(i)um foil at the screw location, which works pretty well. Now I’ll get a hold of the tri-screwdriver and tweak it again.

    In any case, I’m going to move to a multi-touch wireless trackpad (from an old trackball on my Mini) come the new year, because we have an iPad-ready 5-year-old in the house, and I’d rather we all used the same Apple-gestures anyway.

    But this page was a HUGE help. Thanks!

    1. Followup to my comment above: Even though I didn’t have the right screwdriver, I tried turning the little thing with a very small flat blade, and found that it turned quite easily. Out of confidence and curiosity, I decided to remove it. The switch underneath is a “bubble” spring-loaded switch—a slightly cupped piece of metal that gives under pressure, and snaps back upon release. The set screw doesn’t actually serve to control the sensitivity of the switch, though that is a by-product of adjusting it. It’s a simple set screw, which keeps the trackpad homed snugly against the bubble switch without squeezing it, otherwise the trackpad “lever” would rattle in transit.

      You can test this bubble switch with the set screw removed, with a simple household object: a cotton swab with the cotton taken off. The right size, and can’t scratch the COMM-ponent (as Steve would pronounce it).

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