I love my MacBook Pro, but it’s not perfect. Over the past week, my sweet machine’s keyboard and trackpad went unresponsive intermittently, but my USB keyboard and mouse worked fine. (For the record, this is a 10-month-old, refurbished, 2.2Ghz MacBook Pro.)
It’s a hardware problem
It’s not software related, but due to this ribbon cable being curled/bent.
Putting the laptop to sleep, removing the battery (while plugged in), and pressing down on the ribbon cable brings it out of sleep mode and gives life back to the keyboard & trackpad. Astounding. I discovered how to do this, thanks to a thread on the Apple Support forums.
I rolled up a sticky note and placed it on top of the cable. When the battery is locked in place, it puts pressure on the cable, and makes the keyboard and trackpad functional.
Sticky note under battery saves the day
Isn’t that a little unsafe to put a piece of paper under your battery? Won’t it get hot down there? Yes and yes, it will get hot, but if my battery is hot enough to burn paper, I’ve got bigger issues to worry about than a toasty sticky note. So I’m not worried about it, for now.
One of my colleagues, Tony, put it nicely, “You don’t have to worry about sunburn if the sun explodes.”
December 15, 2008 — Is this happening to your MacBook Pro? Test for this problem like this: Put your laptop to sleep. Leave it plugged in. Remove the battery. Press down on the ribbon cable. If your laptop comes back from sleep, then you’ll need to use the sticky note solution mentioned above.
January 7, 2009 — According to Simon, Apple does not think this is a problem. Although if you’re a loyal lifetime customer like Simon, you might get free repair. So take it in and see what you can get.
January 19, 2009 — New test data has surfaced! Not So Fast claims that this doesn’t fix his problem, but his trackpad and keyboard work fine if in boot camp Windows Vista. I’ll be sure to test this on my own laptop and report back sometime soon.
March 14, 2009 — I went to the Apple store yesterday. I reported this problem and their answer was quite intriguing. The answer I got was “It’s not a defect” which is really a stretching of the truth. The truth is, it is a defect, because if it’s causing a problem, then it’s a problem. I’m kind of surprised I got that answer. The nice fellow at the Genius bar said “it’s normal wear that causes the ribbon cable to shift out of position.” But if it was normal, then it’s intended to break, which I refuse to take as a serious answer. You can’t tell me that your product is designed to break. That’s hogwash.
However, they did give me a brand new battery, and improved the sticky note. Instead of using pressure to keep the ribbon in place, they used a piece of anti-static tape. It looks like regular tape. You could probably get away with using plain old scotch tape. The problem isn’t cause by lack of pressure, but because of the ribbon shifting out of place. So the tape holds it in place, and keeps a little pressure on it. Solved.