MacBook Pro unresponsive keyboard & trackpad solution

November 24th, 2008 · 127 Comments

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.

The fix?

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.”


Comment mile-markers

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.

Tags: Tools · Apple · Problem · Hardware

What do you think?

127 comments

  • 1 Jason Robb Dec 1, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Oh, I’m so glad it helped you out! It was seriously mind boggling, glad I’m not the only one. But, on the other hand, I hope Apple has resolved this with the new MacBook Pro’s.

    Peace!
    Jason

  • 2 JUAN VARGAS Dec 3, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!, HAD THE SAME PROBLEM IT WAS DRIVING ME NUTS… WITH THE LITTLE STICKY NOTE THE PROBLEM IS SOLVED.

    THANX TO SITES LIKE THIS YOU HELP A LOT OF PEOPLE… I DID MY RESEARCH IN APPLE SUPPORT AND FOUND NOTHING HELPFULL …. THANX AGAIN MATE

  • 3 Jason Robb Dec 3, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    Juan, thanks for the note. So happy your MacBook is back in action!

    How did you find my site? Google search?

    Take care,
    Jason

  • 4 Adam S. Dec 3, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    I´m absolutely amazed the sticky note just fixed my computer. It happened to my MBP yesterday, and I´ve already phoned Apple Support and they had no answers, I came very close to paying 250$ earlier today to get in front in the line at the Apple workshop and have it repaired, because I desperately need the computer now. I browsed through loads of mac forums before I found your site.
    I found your site on Google.
    You totally saved my life pal, thanks a lot.

  • 5 JUAN VARGAS Dec 4, 2008 at 7:29 am

    by Google search found your site.

    Best regards,

    JUAN

  • 6 LlamaJuice Dec 5, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Hey there, I found this a few days ago when my keyboard and trackpad were slightly working and I’m so glad I did. My laptop is now functioning and I’m able to post this.

    Thanks so much, there isn’t an applecare store within a few hundred miles of where I am right now… so yea.

    I can’t post videos on youtube without a keyboard or trackpad :P.

  • 7 Jason Robb Dec 5, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    @ Adam, I’m ecstatic that I saved you from waiting in a line!

    @ LlamaJuice Thanks for the note, Anthony! I’m always happy to save someone a few hundred miles of travel ;)

    It’s quite surprising that so many people have this problem. It’s even more surprising to see who’s finding my blog with the answer!

  • 8 Zach O. Dec 9, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Just reiterating everybody: THANK YOU!! This is the first solution to actually work and it’s been so frustrating. The new MBPs were having trackpad issues as well and THAT got fixed with a patch, so I was beginning to think our problem would get lost in the shuffle, or the solution confused or forgotten. But you totally saved me a trip to the Apple Store! Can’t thank you enough friend.

  • 9 Stu Dec 11, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Thanks for your tip, unfortunately it did not work for me though.

    After like 40 minutes of rebooting my MBP (about the same as yours, 1 yr old, 2.2 Ghz) it started working again, all of a sudden *sigh*. ~a frustrated apple user.

  • 10 gab Dec 12, 2008 at 6:20 am

    LOVE U!!!

  • 11 Jason Robb Dec 15, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Bummer Stu, not sure what to tell ya. Try this:

    1. Plug in your MBP.
    2. Put it to sleep.
    3. Remove battery. (Keep it plugged it!)
    4. Press down on the ribbon cable.

    If that’s still the problem, your MBP should wake from sleep. And perhaps the sticky note isn’t putting enough pressure on it to be useful. Try folding it in half after rolling it up.

    @ Gab: Glad to help! =)

  • 12 Heet Dec 20, 2008 at 12:06 am

    Just beware - mine started out like this but eventually became unusable. Finding the “sweet spot” on the ribbon became an exercise in finger dexterity. After finding it, I’d have to slip a piece of card onto the spot and quickly slap the battery back in. It rarely worked.

    So, I think most machines will need to be repaired - replacement of the “topcase”. For those out of warranty, that sucks. Mine has one month left so I dropped it off today. What do I do when this happens again? Suffer with yet ANOTHER apple hardware design flaw (I have two white ibook G4s that suffer from a surprisingly similar fault)?

  • 13 Mark Mac Dec 22, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    well.. it worked when i tried it.. thanks! but alas.. only for one day..

    i reverted to plugging in a keyboard and mouse.. to get work done.. now ive tried again, and got it working again, with a folded over biz card.. yes, find the right spot on the ribbon, it wakes up.. i just dont rust this method.. it’s a way to get out of a jamb- but what to do if you are on the road, and need to go though the exercise.. you need a remote keyboard and mouse to put the machine to sleep, not to mention it has to be plugged in..

    so i bought the extended warranty.. $249.. probably worth it, not how long can i live with the machine in for repair.. ?

  • 14 Goran Dec 29, 2008 at 5:39 am

    Hey all,

    After searching through the Mac support forums, taking apart my laptop top case and finally figuring out that the little ribbon as pictured above was the culprit I came across this post!

    Would have saved me hours upon hours… only thing was the I was initially searching “macbook pro keyboard trackpad intermittently stop working” and this post came up when I searched fix macbook pro keyboard ribbon!

    Anyway, this definitely looks like a temporary fix, so in the mean time I’m going to look at buying a new top case.

    p.s. it feels good to be finally able to type again!

    p.p.s. for those of you who have the same problem, I found that my Bluetooth mouse and (I assume) an external keyboard will work while this is going on.

    Now it’s time to update some of those mac forums with a link to this page!

  • 15 MICAH Dec 31, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Thanks for the fix… I had done the same thing you did and it didn’t work… But then i folded it over one last time and now it works like new. Why would you have to replace the top case though, wouldn’t you just replace the ribbon?

  • 16 Chris Jan 4, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Thanks, Jason.

    So Apple is or is not acknowledging this problem actually exists? My MBP (purchased new in April ‘08) has been behaving like this for the past two or three months — I’m going to try the Genius Bar first, just to see what they say about it. But it sounds like they (Apple and/or the local store support “geniuses”) are essentially clueless or purposely covering up. (Any lawyer types out there?? Room for a class-action??) If it’s a fairly common problem due to an obvious design flaw, why wont Apple fess up and straighten out the problem voluntarily?

    If I get no satisfaction from Apple, in the short term I’ll try the sticky note!!

  • 17 Jason Robb Jan 4, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Chris, I don’t know if they know about this. I don’t have the time to send it in for repair. So I haven’t done anything about it. Do share what you find at the Genious bar or elsewhere. Thanks for the note.

  • 18 damian Jan 6, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    This is totally incredible. My laptop did this when I was home in Savannah Georgia over the holidays and without the close proximity of an Apple store. Now that I am recently back home in Boston I stumbled upon this and behold: IT WORKS. I am still going to take it into the Apple store, but I totally wished that I would have found this over the 5 days I was at home without a functional computer.

  • 19 Simon Jan 7, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Thanks for the fix… albeit not really a fix, but it does the job. This just happened to my Macbook Pro 15″ and I was at a loss. I took it to a service centre (not apple) and he said the mother board had gone and needed replacing at a cost of £395 before VAT! I said thanks but no thanks and collected my Macbook.

    I then found this post through Google and it fixed it straight away (THANKS Jason). I wasn’t too pleased with having a bit of mounting board holding down a wire as a fix, so I called Apple about this. I was told this is not an Apple recognised fault… Strange as there are hundreds of people having the same problem and are all reported on Apple’s Forum, but according to Apple… not a problem, go figure?

    Apple were going to charge for the repair as my Macbook is out of warranty by 2 months, but after talking to a supervisor and telling them of my 20 years of loyalty to Apple, working on a Mac everyday and have just bought a brand new Macbook Pro, She was nice enough to offer a free repair. Wow.

    Thanks Jason for the quick fix and to anyone with a Macbook with this problem, Jason’s fix works perfectly, but give Apple a call, you never know.

  • 20 Jason Robb Jan 7, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Wow, that’s astounding Simon! I’ll remember that, since my MBP is nearing the end of its warranty.

    Thanks again for dropping by and chiming in everyone. This has proved to be a very helpful topic to blog about.

    I’ve updated the post to include a few helpful notes you’ve all left in the Comment mile-markers section. Cheers!

  • 21 brunus Jan 9, 2009 at 6:45 am

    Hi you all,
    I’m not among the happy ones: the fix did’t work for me! I can press the ribbon cable as much as I want, I get nothing to move on the screen. :-(
    I’ve bought my MBP in July 07 and so far I had to have my display replaced twice, my optical drive once, my motherboard (just one week ago), and now this!
    Before this MBP, I had a PB Alu G4: mobo replaced twice and got broken a third time, display to be replaced once.
    Before that a TIbook G4: broken hinges, another similar issue with the trackpad ribbon cable, to be fixed with some tape, and display again!
    My Apple worship is weakening.

    Brunus

    The pre

  • 22 Bongani Jan 16, 2009 at 5:24 am

    Thanks a lot Jason, My MBP’s keyboard and trackpad are working again.
    I just pressed the ribbon cable twice and replaced my battery.
    That was it.

  • 23 NaBoB Jan 18, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Fuck yeah!
    I cannot believe that such a simple solution can make
    a world of a difference.
    Thanks man.

  • 24 Not so fast Jan 19, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Hold on a moment there. Before you go on moving ribbon cables and all.
    I have the same problem with my early 2008 macbook pro. No keyboard or trackpad. Yeah it sucks but listen to this.

    I have both Leopard and Vista runnning on my maching via bootcamp. If this is in fact a hardware issue, then tell me why my laptop works fine while in Windows. Dont get me wrong, I despise Windows (my son needs it for games, sigh..)
    Anyways, as I was saying. The problem popped up for me last night. When in Windows, everything works yet in Leopard, they keyboard and trackpad are dead in water.
    I have tried the fix posted here and no dice. Right now I am in Windows writing this post on the very same laptop.

    Any thoughts?

  • 25 Jason Robb Jan 19, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Very quite noteworthy! I’ll give this a try, as I have a boot camp Windows XP.

    Perhaps, the hardware issue affects a software problem only on Mac OS X. What if Windows is less particular about whatever it is that’s wrong with the ribbon cable?

    Very interesting. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks for stopping by and dropping your $0.02 in the hat. ;)

  • 26 Susan Jan 19, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    This problem happened to me 6 months ago and this fix worked for a while. Eventually I had to bring my laptop in to Apple and they replaced the top case. Unfortunately it recently started happening again. So I’m back to using this fix until I can visit an Apple store.

    One thought: As anyone tried lifting the clear plastic flap covering the ribbon and checking the connection? I wonder if the ribbon is actually loose, and that maybe it could be “pushed” back in. According to iFixIt.com’s diagrams, you can lift this flap up. I haven’t tried yet since I want to see if Apple with take care of it.

  • 27 T.conte Jan 23, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    And macbook users could do the same but a smaller one for their macbooks too!

    Just unplug the battery,
    You Will see a small plastic-ish button under the trackpad button
    And you just have to put it in there and everything’s solved.
    All I wonder was the same if my battery gets too hot will it burn my macbook :S And I’ve done the same thing it worked! ;)

  • 28 John Callahan Jan 24, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    I was able to create a permanent fix for my dead keyboard and trackpad (after two dead displays and a dead logic board under warranty) by taking my 17″ Mac Book Pro firmly in hand, strolling outside and slamming it repeatedly into a brick wall.
    Try any number you like but for me about five times did it.
    You may optionally repair permissions while you’re out there by kicking it under your car and driving back and forth over it for a few minutes.

    Then to ensure no future issues arose, I ordered a new Sony laptop.
    Yeah it sucks going back to Windows but I never had so many things go wrong with hardware in my life as I have switching to Mac in 07. And then the Apple staff are snotty and pretend it’s not a problem?

    Good riddance.

  • 29 Garrett Jan 25, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this! I was completely baffled. I think the cause of this was an overly stuffed computer bag.

  • 30 Alex Jan 25, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Man of the year! Thanks! I was becoming cracy!
    I’m smileing thinking to millions of forum topics opened on this problem and not yet closed as solved :D
    Hoping Google can help everybody as helped me :D
    Thanks Again Mate!

  • 31 Oscar McSpeed Jan 31, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Brilliant! I had the exact same problem , was told I had to get a replacement keyboard. Instead I tried this fix and voila! Working keyboard and mouse! :) :) :) Fantastic! Unbelievable! You are a true Einstein type to poke around at your machine like that and figure out this trick. Simply Brilliant. I’m am almost speechless. Thank You so much. I cannot thank you enough in fact. Thank You.

  • 32 Jason Robb Jan 31, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Glad to help! You are too kind, really. =)

  • 33 Sven Feb 4, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Thank You! I had the same problem 3 month ago. I brought my MBP to Apple and they replaced keyboard and top case. It worked until 2 weeks ago then the same problem appeared again. I tried your fix and keyboard and trackpad came back to life - Thank you!
    Anyway, I guess the issue is related to heat. Everytime (even though while using your fix) I plug in my MBP to recharge the battery it gets warm and kb & tp give no response. I’m now running my MBP without battery and it works perfectly, well, only if we consider this as a sufficient solution… I’ll bring it back to Apple, maybe they meanwhile discovered another solution. However, Thank You very much!

    Sven from Germany

  • 34 Christos Feb 4, 2009 at 10:53 am

    I bought the early 2008 MBP this October and I’ve been having that problem since November.
    I have three things to say!

    1. This fix does not work for me. I tried it and it was ok for a few weeks, but the problem came back.
    2. I just had the same problem today twice while on XP!
    3. If you give your MBP a little twist or if you close the lid putting it to sleep and open it again the problem will go away though not always.

    As if that wasn’t complicated enough if I sent the laptop to be repaired I have to leave it there for a week, and i really cannot afford this as I am using the laptop for university work and that will have a huge (bad) impact.

  • 35 Jason Robb Feb 4, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Sven: Be warned, running your MBP plugged in with battery removed will slow down your processor significantly.

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=273551

    Christos, thanks for the XP test.

  • 36 Simone Feb 4, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    I had the same problem in december on my MBP 17″. I fixed it installing the OS again. I had the problem the day before yesterday and i did the same. it’s so bad!

  • 37 Christos Feb 5, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Considering the comment I left earlier and posts I have read about this problem I have concluded that it’s both Hardware and Software related. Most probably a hardware problem that causes a software error.

    Tiger users never had this problem until they updated to Leopard. (as far as I’ve read) And most of us didn’t have that problem with XP , though I’ve got it twice in a row the other day after almost 3 months of use of XP pro 32 bit. (Mind you though I haven’t been using windows much) Now the problem seems to disappear when the battery is off, when and when you give the laptop body a twist, and when you close the lid and put the computer to sleep and wake it up after that. Indicating that it’s not only hardware related or only software related. Seems Leopard is not as good as Apple claims. Anyone can verify what I’ve said?

  • 38 Ewen Feb 9, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Awesome man- worked perfectly. Thanks a lot for posting… found you through a google search.

  • 39 Justin Feb 17, 2009 at 2:52 am

    Term paper is due tomorrow, panic reigned, I tried the first fix I encountered on the Apple forums (that is, running around naked)…

    and then I stumbled across this page on Google. Thank you so much JR! What an irritating little design flaw.

  • 40 Jason Robb Feb 17, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Hahaha, Justin that’s totally going to make my day. Glad to help. Cheers!

  • 41 Unresponsive trackpad and keyboard for Macbook Pro | Connecting the dots... Feb 19, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    […] searched all over the INTERNET, with no concrete solution until I came across this solution. A really simple of solution to a really annoying problem, especially when were planning to get […]

  • 42 Jay Feb 22, 2009 at 11:24 am

    I have been experiencing the same problems, but even with the rolled-up paper solution, my MacBook Pro still occassionally freezes. If it really is the ribbon connector, wouldn’t the keyboard lose functionality if the battery were removed and running just off of the power cord?

    I honestly have no better solution, but I feel as though Sven may be correct. I usually leave my MBP on and charge it frequently. Also, to compound the problem, I had a hard plastic case for protection. It does seem to be related to temperature, because with the battery out and plugged in it works fine… nothing placed on the ribbon connector.

  • 43 Jason Crystal Feb 22, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Add me to your list of people who’ve had this problem! Thanks for the help!

  • 44 Peter Garmaz Feb 23, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Not sure if my experiences with this kind of problem will help but it’s always good to share.

    One of my users has been having a similar problem where the keyboard and trackpad become unresponsive. This happens “randomly” as far as I have been told. If you attach an external mouse/keyboard to the MBP, you can use the machine as you want.

    Doing a soft reboot (with the above mentioned kb/mouse attached) will see the onboard trackpad and keyboard come back to life. This led me to believe the problem is not a physical one but more than likely something software related.

    In following this, I re-installed Leopard and applied all software updates. The machine was then used for a few days by one of the dev’s at the office to track down a bug related to the nvidia chipset. At no point did he have the problem (nor was the users original data on the machine).

    After the testing had completed, I migrated the users data back on to the machine using the Apple migration tool.

    After migrating the data back and rebooting the machihe, the problem came back only a few hours later. At present I am testing a seperate user on the machine as I suspect the problem is likely to be related to the a specific users profile.

    YMMV and all the rest, for those of you that are not having any luck with the pressure on the ribbon cable trick, you may want to set up an alternate user and see if the problems go away.

  • 45 spudmurf2k Mar 4, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Cheers!

    Saved my life - was about to attack the inside ribbon cable with a screwdriver to get it fixed. Took a number of google searches to happen upon this though, eventually ‘macbook pro keyboard loose’ did the trick :) I’m running windows and the USB connect and disconnect sounds are very helpful - you can hear the keyboard and mouse connecting and disconnecting when pressure is applied.

    Once Again, Lifesaver.

    P.

  • 46 ski2moro Mar 5, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Symptoms - keyboard and trackpad randomly stop working. Restart fixes it for a while.

    1. One hour on the phone with Apple Care
    2. Three hours to drive to Apple Store to talk to Genius who tells me to go home and
    3. Five hours to run diagnostics and reinstall Leopard

    Five minutes to install a Post-it note.

    Thanks Jason!

    2.5 gHz MBP

  • 47 Hendrik Runte Mar 5, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    THANK YOU SO MUCH! YOU SAVED MY DAY. Sorry for using caps-lock only–I tend to love the small green light showing that my keyboard belongs to the living. This is my second keyboard, the first one was replaced under the one-year-limited-warranty thing. Reading this warranty stuff at apple.com showed me that replacement parts have only 90 days warranty. I was really p****ed until now. Thank’s again, Jason!

  • 48 Tetanus Mar 6, 2009 at 10:39 am

    You, sir, are my god…

    The keyboard+trackpad on my Late-2007 MacBook Pro, already out of warranty, began to fail at every startup about a month ago. I’d have to force shutdown and cycle the power till they responded. During the times when I got them to finally work, I’d notice HardwareGrowler report that the “Apple Internal Keyboard has disconnected” then “connected” in rapid succession.

    I never found a solution until I chanced upon your blog. Thank you for this invaluable information.

  • 49 Ryan Schipper Mar 6, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    This used to happen for me occassionally after waking from sleep, and for the first time, it continued to happen after reboot.

    While I am not necessarily happy with the sticky-note solution due to the processor and graphics intensive work I do on my laptop, for now I’m just happy to have a working computer again. Thanks.

    For the interest of those who have had negative experiences with Apple before, I’ve owned quite a few and my experience has definitely been positive overall. My Bronze PBG3 had as issue with the screen when I flew from the US to Australia, but that was the only major issue (excluding the coffee-in-keyboard incident).

    As for the future, I’ll be ringing for a quote to get this fixed on Tuesday, but I’ll definitely purchase the AppleCare if it ends up being the cheaper option. Furthermore, I’ll try and persuade Apple Support to provide a proper fix.

    Thanks again - I’ll let you know if I make any progress with Apple on this matter.

  • 50 Martin Leblanc Mar 7, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Oh my god!…. This fixed the problem. I have been carrying around me bluetooth keyboard and external mouse for 3 months now. I’m really disappointed that Apple doesn’t recognize clear hardware errors like this. It makes me think twice when buying my next laptop.

  • 51 spudmurf2k Mar 12, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Hey, just another two cent: a carefully positioned piece of sticky tack also does the job… my case was getting too bad for even a post-it note!

  • 52 Halichopter Mar 14, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    This is a great tip, thanks. I had to use something thicker than postit note folded. basically the fuzzy side of a piece of sticky Velcro

  • 53 Cu D. Nguyen Mar 16, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Thanks for the tip. It fixed my MBP too. It’s hard for me to believe that good laptop like MBPs die because of that ribbon cable :-(

  • 54 Marc and Anna Mar 22, 2009 at 5:24 am

    That’s it awesome! It works perfectly! thank you!

  • 55 David Wogan Mar 23, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Oh man, I’ve been having this same problem. I went as far as reinstalling combo updates and wiping the system. It turns out the firewire drive I backed up to ate it for good last night! I’ll try this solution. My other alternative is to get a new MBP, but I’m going to avoid spendin $2k if I can help it… Thanks!

  • 56 Frank D'Angelo Mar 25, 2009 at 7:24 am

    This just started happening with my 12″ G4 Powerbook. Before I try this, I have a question. If the problem is the ribbon position, wouldn’t it be better to just tape it or attach it rather then using a sticky note? Just wondering. I’ll give it a try and report back….thanks! Oh, I posted this problem on a major Mac forum with no response…then a good friend sent me this link.

  • 57 Frank D'Angelo Mar 25, 2009 at 7:37 am

    Jason,
    Thanks for the Chat!! I have the same problem with my 12″ G4 Powerbook. Sadly, the battery is not over the trackpad and I cannot see any ribbon, so I guess the next step is to open up the top case. At least I now know that it is probably the ribbon. Thanks again!

  • 58 Still frustrated Mar 27, 2009 at 8:16 am

    I’ve been trying this solution all morning, but can’t find the “sweet spot”. Nothing is happening and we need to get this show on the road. Any suggestions before I start jamming things into the guts (of the computer, of course)?

  • 59 Bram Andersen Apr 1, 2009 at 1:10 am

    Amazing! Have been fighting a danish Apple franchise on this for a year! Can’t this lead to a recall?? So many people are affected. Petition time….

    Thanks!

  • 60 Riva Segall Apr 2, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Very helpful explanation with pix for unresponsive keyboard issue. My plain MacBook bought in 12/07 needed the repair.

    Thank You!!

  • 61 Dustin Apr 3, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Hey,

    The trick above only worked once for me. My MBP is out of warranty. I am pretty handy with computers and laptops (non-mac). Should I take it to the service center or try to buy the parts on ebay and replace it myself? I’ve never worked on a mac, but I’m great at taking apart and putting back together.

    Thanks,
    dc

  • 62 Michael Apr 7, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    I have a MBP 2.2, and been very frustrated for about a week now with this keyboard/trackpad issue. I’ve been scouring the forums for solutions to this problem. Seems there are quite a few of us out there with this same issue. I’m going to try the sticky note fix and see if this works.
    Apple! Damn it! I’ve been a loyal customer for almost 20 years! You need to listen to people like us.

  • 63 Scott Apr 11, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Wow, thanks! I went from sheer panic to astounded relief when I saw this tip. It sounded like one of those kooky things that accidentally worked for one person until I saw all the comments showing how it worked for so many. It definitely worked on my early ‘08 MBP 15″ running 10.5.6. I have AppleCare and ProCare and as soon as these project deadlines are past I’m heading into the Apple store with a printout of this page and going to demand a definitive fix. This is about my 15th Mac and I can’t believe they’d build such a vulnerability into the hardware.

  • 64 Joshua Apr 20, 2009 at 12:24 am

    I have tried that fix and it is still unresponsive. It has been totally unresponsive for a month now. I went out and bought an external keyboard and mouse and that works fine, but it is certainly frustrating! Any other suggestions? I am overseas right now and can’t get to an Apple store until July.

  • 65 Rob C Apr 22, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Hey, thanks for the info. I’m going to try your fix for now but messing around with this defective hardware will cost me more in billable downtime than the $250 for a new top case. Anyone want to take bets on whether this turns into a recall?

  • 66 Adan Apr 29, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    THANKS A LOT JASON, YOUR TRICK SAVED MY LIFE AND PROBABLY SOME POUNDS!

  • 67 Petri Rantala from Finland May 6, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Jason. You are an angel!!!
    A week back I bought a used macbook pro (2.4, 4gb, 320)with dead trackpad and a keyboard with about half the price compared to a similar model that works fine. (550e/about1000e).
    Long story short i was convinced I could repair it somehow.
    With disassembling it the first time couldn’t find anything, so I continued looking for an answer online. I use my pro without the battery connected so I could use your trick instantly just by pressing the ribbon… WHAT!!! That actually works!!!!???
    Thank a million times Jason!!!

  • 68 Gianluca from Italy May 7, 2009 at 7:28 am

    You’re THE MAN.

    It works also on the white plastic macbook 13″ .. it’s enough to lift a “balloon-like” sticker and press that very same ribbon cable.

    Daamn, i was freaking out for two weeks.

    Thank you!

  • 69 James May 7, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Just wanna say THANKS A LOTTTTTTT, had a lot of trouble with this thing. thanks again man

  • 70 A B May 10, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Damn same thing happened to my MBP however my ribbon looks like it got burned from the heat, so your solution didn’t work on mine. I really hope it turns into a recall. This MBP was bad from the beginning I had to get it repaired about 5 times during the first year, and now I’m 2 months out of warranty…..

  • 71 Alberto Ramirez Martinell May 13, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Recently I had a similar problem, mi trackpad died and neither that nor an external mouse worked. Couldnt clic and mac became lik a zombie, I thought it was this mac zombie thing, but it wasn’t.

    I ran into this post and read about thie ribbon thingy, so I checked mine and I realised the battery was inflated, and was pressing the inner part of the click. without battery macbook pro is a charm again.

    PS need to buy another battery though

  • 72 flashbender May 19, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    wow. just wow. astounded at this design flaw and the simplicity of the fix.

    I too suffered from the dead keyboard and was not happy about the thought of sending in my main money generating tool to the shop for 7 days (as reported by other people who had this problem on other forums)

    My theory about this not being an issue in tiger and running win via bootcamp is that it is indeed a software routine that checks to see if that toggle switch is engaged or not.

    anyway, many thanks, this article saved me a giant headache.

  • 73 klaus May 20, 2009 at 12:42 am

    paper roll helps, will have a look under the plastic cover though.

    Thanks a lot

  • 74 Adi May 21, 2009 at 8:23 am

    I’m having that problem for some time now. comes and goes for no reason. tryed your solution, sometimes works and sometimes not.
    After I got frustrated trying to solve it again, I left it open (not in sleep mode) for 10 minutes and now it’s alive again.
    Any Ideas?

  • 75 mak May 23, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    I’m back. I like so many others I’m sure, happened upon this article awhile back when I was desperately trying to fix and diagnose this problem. Although I couldn’t see any curls in the ribbon, the post-it note fix worked for me without fail for about two months, so I was (and still am) sure it was the same issue. Of course now I’m in the same boat as so many other of you as every three or four days I’m taking off my battery and readjusting the note or trying different shapes and sizes.

    Now lately I’m having a key stuck problem too, where I’ll be in the middle of something and any one of my keys with just decide tooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo, like that. I’m wondering if this is because my paper fix is too wide, this is an independent problem, or just more of the same?

    Maddening! I work too much to be without this thing for 4 or 5 days and can’t believe I have to deal with all this on a MacBook Pro (15″) that I just bought 6 months ago. I’m shocked there hasn’t been a class action lawsuit yet.

    Anyway, I still really appreciate your help and this thread, I’m just annoyed I can’t get this taken care of more permanently.

  • 76 Otto May 26, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Jason, thanks so much for this fix as well. I found your site using google, just try ‘macbook pro keyboard trackpad’ and you will get nothing but hits on defective/unresponsive trackpads and keyboards. The funny thing is in all the time I have been using my MBP I have only taken out the battery once: when I got it new, to max RAM. I find it particularly strange the ribbon cable would shift out of place when the battery is never removed.

    I solved by packing some business cards under the battery which comes in extra handy since I tend to forget to take them with me :)

  • 77 Narbeh May 29, 2009 at 10:57 am

    1st. thank you for getting me through finals.

    2nd. worked for a while, now same, you have to play with it with your fingers to be able to finish a sentence.

    3rd. based on this forum, and a few others i am beginning to think the problem may be software, and there is a sort of ‘keep alive signal’ that is reactivated whenever you press on the ribbon cable.. im guess that when you press on the cable… it probably cuts the connection and instantly re-establishes it, and that’s when the software picks up the new signal. As if you unplugged the keyboard and plugged it back in. **this is just a guess.

    Although, the problem is getting worse and worse, and now that it barley works, it seems like a connection problem. It is very touch and go.. you need to apply pressure and keep it there.

    I took the problem to Genius bar and was fuming at their response. He right away said they’ll replace my keyboard for $310 (warantee expired) without even considering what I was telling him. Also, my comp is heating to 180+ degrees with fans going at 6000rpm.. he told me its probably an app i’m running, (even after i told him it does this on idle) and told me they probably can’t do much about it. The comp barley functions at that temp. I’m not a happy customer, i’m hoping this is recalled, but doubt it. They’re not the type. It took tens of thousands of failed ipod nanos before they issued a recall.

  • 78 Narbeh May 29, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    ps. does anyone know where we can buy one of those data cables that we think may be the problem (the one for the keyboard/trackpad). I am having a slightly difficult time finding the right one.

  • 79 Matthias Jun 2, 2009 at 10:17 am

    Hi all,
    thanks also for the fantastic workaround. But I am little frustrated that I have to replace again and again the papers under the battery which I have to do every few days. Does anyone know which part of the macbookpro has to be replaced because I still have “apple care” and would like to get this done? Is this the mainboard which has to be replaced or is it just the keyboard?

  • 80 Carey Jun 4, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Awesome!

    Thanks.

    Apple is weird. I love their computers but come on. After one year the keyboard stops working. What other $2000 product can claim that?

  • 81 Jason B Jun 11, 2009 at 9:47 am

    I too was stricken by this on my MBP Santa Rosa 2.4. I take my battery out frequently due to advice given by an Apple rep when my battery was not holding a good charge after only 50 cycles. I use my laptop as my main computer so I was keeping the battery in charge mode constantly. I didn’t realize the battery would go out so soon. I had a G5 that sprang a leak now this. Very bad design on both of these, the battery gets really hot why the hell would you place a ribbon under there. I went to my local apple store after my intermitent problem became permanent. My 1 year expired October 2008. The rep said it was out of warranty but took it to the back to try and reseat the ribbon cables. He had no luck and told me it would cost $300+ to fix it. I let him know my issues with this and my previous mac. I said this is something I would expect from a PC not a $2000+ mac. I also told him of all the forums and discussions there are on the net and apples pages. He said that most of the people probably spilled something on them. I really think apple is becoming a big pile of dog shit. I have returned several Iphones too. I love their OS but their equipment is making me want to run a hackintosh. Can someone please start a class action on this. I also asked if there would be a recall and if not can you notify some of the upper mgt about this. I really don’t think he really cared. I am pissed with apple and their design flaws that we spend thousands of dollars on.

  • 82 Rick Jun 18, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Jason… all I can say is thank you. We had several laptops giving us grief at our production company. The “back and forth” with apple was endless, resulting in a pile of lost hours and amazing frustration. This simple solution is practical, cheap and pure genius. Thanks again for your post.

  • 83 Jepoy Jun 19, 2009 at 2:22 am

    I have the same problem with my MBP 2.4. Apple Service Center can’t solve the problem. They’re too lazy to do it. I already re-installed OSX 7 but still the problem occurs. Not even the sticky note solution helps.

    Try this other solution, I found this solution somewhere and it works for me. If you have Parallels Desktop installed, with the use of an external mouse, try to disable then enable the Apple Internal Keyboard/Trackpad under the Devices > USB menu of the VM and it will make your Keyboard/Trackpad work again. If you can’t see the Apple Internal Keyboard/Trackpad from the choices, try to select the Apple Composite and it should show the Apple Internal Keyboard/Trackpad from the choices.

    For some reason, the Keyboard and Trackpad suddenly disconnects by itself after I checked the Console log of my machine. I think this is some kind of Kernel issue that Apple is too lazy to figure out. Then now, they’ve released their NEWER version of the Leopard SNOW without providing a solution for the current issue with regards the trackpad/keyboard problem. I’m still waiting for them to release a fix for this issue.

    This problem is really annoying because since this is the first time I had a MAC and is not a very good start experiencing an Apple product the fact that this defective item costs too much.

    You have to start doing something about this APPLE, Inc., many people may start losing their loyalty just because of this crap issue.

  • 84 mark Jun 30, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Amazing!! Thanks so much for this post!! This fix worked perfectly! I opened up the back of my mac and the ribbon was bent just like in your post.

    Thanks a million!

  • 85 Matthias Jul 3, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Hey all,
    I have a little improvement which maybe can help some of you guys. In the last weeks I had to re-place the sticky note again and again and it gets even worse. More drop outs than ever. My solution: Now I have pushed the paper under (!!!) the plastic foil touching the plug of the keyboard (see where the arrow is in the picture!!!) and now my macbookpro works without any dropout since two weeks. Maybe this procedure helps some people.
    Best, Matthias.

  • 86 Jason Robb Jul 3, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Thanks for the feedback, Matthias and the rest of you. So glad I could help!

    Cheers!

  • 87 Nils Jul 6, 2009 at 3:04 am

    Thanks.

    I’m looking for a permanent fix though. I have a theory that it is the connection to the plug that is faulty and not the ribbon itself. I’m going to try trimming the ribbon slightly to see if i can get a better connection and perhaps putting some paper under the ribbon where it plugs in. (It is possible to remove the ribbon from the plug by prizing up the translucent plastic cover and flipping up the very fine strip of plastic on the opposite side of the plug to where the ribbon enters.) Any thoughts?

  • 88 Sangers Jul 10, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Hey guys,

    I have this problem and applied the solution (however with a folded tissue). It was great. It worked for about 6 months.

    Then the other day when I took my Mac into the service shop for another problem, I had to remove the tissue when I handed it to him as he diagnose the problem as he gave me a weird look when he found it in there.

    Anyway, when they returned the mac to me it seemed to work fine without the tissue. But now it occasionally stops working again. When I apply the tissue or paper solution I still get no results. However after fiddling around with the tissue for 10mins, after I remove the tissue, it again works fine without the tissue in place.

    This is really weird.

    1. It stops working
    2. I apply tissue or paper - it still doesn’t work
    3. I remove tissue or paper - it works again.

    Any suggestions? I can’t go on doing this everytime the keyboard and mouse drop out.

  • 89 bonin5 Jul 17, 2009 at 6:42 am

    very crafty. I’m convinced Jason is the sticky note version of McGyver.

  • 90 Me Jul 26, 2009 at 10:36 am

    CLASS ACTION SUIT NEEDED?

    First, apologies for the long post, but lots to consider.

    I am a LONG-time Apple user. I have seen way too many issues like this not to believe they are designed to happen. I really cannot believe a lawyer or law firm has not taken this up with Apple (yet again). The evidence is quite clear, but I suspect the big problem would be to get someone at Apple to admit anything. Apple, as a corporate giant, and its many individual employees, are famous for being tight-lipped, and actually have to sign very severe non-disclosure agreements as part of their employment (which, to be fair, is not uncommon in the technology industry).

    Cases of issues (these are just some I can list off the top of my head, with no research; I have no question many more would come to light with even limited research):

    MacBook Pro (Original) - Given the obvious intelligence put into the design of these and almost all Macs, at least in comparison to PCs, is it even close to believable that Apple designers would just happen to lay the keyboard/trackpad cable directly in contact with the battery, so the battery would pinch/move it, and the heat of the battery would contribute to the issues created? For anyone who believes that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. All Apple designers had to do was make an ever-so-slightly larger “opening” for the cable to pass through, and/or cover said cable with mylar tape, and no issue. Too difficult for them to design/predict the effects? I think not. Look at the MANY other places they’ve done exactly what they should have.

    Ok, so some of you may think this was a one-time “accident” or “oversight.” Consider the following:

    PowerBook G4 Titanium (DVI models) - Almost a carbon copy of this issue. In this case, the trackpad cable runs directly under the left part of the space bar and Apple/command key. This same cable runs directly over a piece of the composite “frame” (which is about 2mm wide, jutting upwards almost like . . . a blade) and under a piece of metal. Each time the spacebar or left Apple key is hit, it puts pressure on the top metal piece (which, by its design, is a corner piece and can “conveniently” flex downward), pushing the rather delicate cable down onto the “blade.” Gee, I wonder what’s going to happen after repeatedly hitting the space bar and Apple key. Most often this occurs after a year or so of use. So what’s significant about a year? That’s how long Apple’s hardware warranty lasts. Unless, of course, you spend another $300-plus on AppleCare. Now what would help convince people who have already spent +/- $2000 on a laptop to spend another $300-plus on “insurance?” I mean, really, what person in his/her right mind would expect a $2000 laptop to last more than a year anyway? Oh, that’s right, ALL of us expect our $2000 laptops to last more than a year. Then, of course, when we hear that “issues” keep popping up (usually after the 1 year warranty of course), and repairs are usually even more expensive than AppleCare, that $300-plus insurance policy starts to sound pretty good. So we’re stuck with several expensive choices (and guess where that money goes in each case?). We can spend $300-plus on AppleCare to make sure we get 3 years out of our laptops anyway. Or we can take our chances, and if we’re one of the many unfortunates, pay the repair bill. Or, again, we can take our chances, and, if we’re one of the many unfortunates, we can simply buy a new computer. In each case Apple smiles.

    Back to the Titanium case for a moment; I know, those silly designers would never foresee the issue with those keys repeatedly hammering down on that cable, right? And rather conveniently (at least for Apple to collect money for a repair or a new computer), it doesn’t completely sever the cable. It simply wears away the insulation on the cable so it short circuits against the frame and/or metal piece above it, causing a variety of often inconsistent issues like the keyboard and trackpad issues described in this thread. This is extremely difficult for the average person (most people) to diagnose, and, for those who are not industrious enough to dig for the solution (as anyone reading this has), they simply take it in for service or buy a new computer, usually another Mac.

    Convenient, huh?

    “But wait a minute” you might say, “doesn’t Apple risk losing us to the world of Windows?” Hardly. Apple fans are notorious for their loyalty. I know, I’m one of them, and I’ve been watching this phenomenon for 20 years now. The OS is elegant (come on, you really have to admit it is), the computers are sweet and sexy (almost no one who has ever owned an Apple laptop will dispute this), and when they are working as they’re supposed to, life is good. And let’s face it, while each of the issues each of the MANY hardware designs experience has hundreds of victims, percentage-wise, it is usually a rather low number.

    Which brings us to the question, “why would Apple plan for these issues to happen, if it’s usually only a small percentage of each hardware design that has issues?” Add up all the hardware designs, multiply it by that small percentage of issues, and you get VERY LARGE numbers. And remember, this is “icing on the cake,” money on top of what was already spent on the hardware in the first place.

    Is Apple the only company doing this? I seriously doubt it (can you spell “Detroit?” I think THEY finally got the message anyway), but Apple is a company I’m very familiar with over many years, so I know something about their “habits.” And does it matter how many other companies are doing it? Wrong is wrong. End of story.

    I could go on and on (I suspect you’ve figured that out if you’ve read this far!), but I think I’ve made my point. I doubt I will ever switch to Windows, though when one of my Apple products has a particularly frustrating issue, I do think about threatening to switch, but that’s as far as it goes. I have too much attraction to both the OS and the hardware, on top of the knowledge base and familiarity I’ve gained over the years, to switch (I think it might be something akin to being a Democrat or Republican, you just “are,” although I’d consider myself an independent!).

    Finally, a few more relevant points have occurred to me as I’ve composed this reply:

    Another case is the iBook G3 GPU, which hangs under the logic board; enough flexes/movement of the case and the solder joints crack; the “fix” is to wedge a piece of rubber under it to keep it propped up (or, of course, send some money Apple’s way).

    Another case is the PB G3 power adapter, which, after enough flexes, frays and can actually cause a fire (I believe that one had a recall; companies don’t like consumers to hear about their products unexpectedly bursting into flames, potentially maiming and killing people).

    And one apparently little known fact: Apple doesn’t give your “defective” parts back, it’s part of their “policy.” I admit I do not know if this is still the case, but in the past they use these parts they’ve taken out of your machine, to repair other people’s machines! Of course they test and “refurbish” these parts in between, but if your MacBook Pro has an issue like the cable in question here, and they repair your MacBook Pro by replacing the logic board and/or entire top case, then all they have to do is test that logic board, or replace that little 98 cent cable, and it’s good for the next victim! (I gotta get me a business like that; on second thought, no, I wouldn’t want to do that to people, even if it made me rich.)

    And finally, (really finally this time!) I’m actually not against Apple, I’m a vehement supporter, I want them to succeed and thrive and drive MicroSoft and Windows into the dust. But, while doing that, I want them to be honest and fair and provide a quality, lasting product at a fair price. Fair to us. And I think they can. Stevo, I hope this somehow finds its way to you someday and you take heart. Keep up with the fantastic technology and ideas, but stop taking advantage of us.

  • 91 Jerry Jul 29, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    You da man! Thanks so much,

  • 92 Manolis Aug 6, 2009 at 3:33 am

    I have the same problem…

    I’ ve also heard that the cause of this problem could be the use of a slingshot bag, causing the battery to be pressed against your hips repeatedly pressing the ribbon in it’s turn.

    I’ ve tried fixing the problem with a small piece of carton, but it doesnt permanently solve it. Pressure on the top case or the trackpad can also trigger the disconnect.

    The official Apple service provider here in Greece (it took them a loooot of time to understand the cause of the problem)told me an upper-case replacement would solve it, costing me 240EUR in total.

    But this whole thing frustrates me… It makes no sense paying 2000EUR for a laptop, and expecting this kind of problems…. Plus I cannot afford a repair at the moment, being and student. But my MBP is my main tool at the university, and bought something expensive to avoid problems such as these… An external keyboard+mouse can do the trick at home, but the purpose of the laptop is to be mobile…

    Anyway… I was wondering if some heat-resistant silicon placed on the ribbon would do the trick. I guess it will prevent it from moving at all…

  • 93 Jon Bossuyt Aug 16, 2009 at 9:52 am

    This trick saved the day! Haha, thanks a lot!

  • 94 MacBook User Aug 24, 2009 at 10:30 am

    This solution worked like a charm for about a month on my Santa Rosa MBP. Now it doesn’t work anymore, i’ve replaced the paper, folded it multiple times to make it thicker but still doesn’t work.

  • 95 rbs Aug 24, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    A-mazing. Been struggling with a dead keyboard and trackpad for the last 24 hours. Somehow ran across your post via the right magic keywords in Google, and voila, a simple finger push on that cable under the battery has everything working again.

  • 96 Jane Aug 25, 2009 at 10:32 am

    DON’T PAY FOR REPAIRS!

    I spent hours on the phone and had two visits to the Genius Bar and nobody would pay for the repairs of this so-called hardware failure. IT’S A SOFTWARE ISSUE.

    Just reset the PRAM if the issue ever occurs:

    Hold ‘P’ + ‘R’ + [Apple] + ‘Option’

    While holding these push power once, you may do this up to three times, it will start up and shut down again and then start up.

    So far this has worked for me. I am told it works with all people who had at first an intermittently unresponsive keyboard or mouse turned permanent. For those whose problem came on full force, then that is probably a hardware issue. Oh thank you to the one Genius who is actually cool like Mac men should be!

  • 97 Jane Aug 25, 2009 at 11:46 am

    I forgot to mention – turn off the computer before resetting PRAM

  • 98 Chris Albrecht Sep 6, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    Thanks a ton! I came upon this glorious response with a simple google search and I’m currently able to make this comment because of it. I opted to cut the sticky note to just push on the ribbon itself. It allowed me to get a more even pressure from the battery on the affected area. In any case, thank you again for your help. :)

  • 99 jared humphries Sep 13, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    I cannot believe my $2400 MBP is held together by a freaking sticky note. It would not come out of sleep, so I powered it down. Then it would not power back up. I thought my motherboard was fried. I tried every suggestion about resetting the SMC blah blah, but nothing worked but this. Thank you for happening to know the most random solution to an otherwise tragic problem.

  • 100 dave Sep 15, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    THE POST IT NOTE WORKED!!

    Thank you! You probably just saved me 200 in repairs or whatever they feel like charging me!

    I’m so glad there are people like you that take the time and effort to help others out when they discover something like this. THANKS!!

  • 101 Don Argus Sep 16, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Jason,
    You just saved me 320 bucks! I had this problem and took it to the Apple Store. The “Genius” there told me the circuit board under the track pad was bad, necessitating replacement of the entire top case. I brought it back home to back it up before surgery, but wanted to confirm the diagnosis and found your site.

    I tried your Post-It fix and am now happily typing away on the machine’s own keyboard - I have now disconnected the USB keyboard and mouse.

    Again, many thanks.

  • 102 Ben Sep 22, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Wow, that is the best answer out of hundreds of forums suggesting repairs and upwards of 300 dollars servicing.
    Thankyou so much!

  • 103 David R Sep 23, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Yet another testimonial: Keyboard and mouse died on my two year old MPB (15″ LED, 2.2 GHz core 2). They died slowly over a one to two month period, which suggested a hardware issue but really confused me.

    Long story short: I was literally just about to reinstall the OS when I stumbled on this page. I was stunned when covering the cable worked instantly (I folded a piece of black electrical tape on itself and just set it between the cable and battery). It’s been working for several days now so it’s the real thing. The irony: I never thought I would actually get to fix a computer with tape.

    I had two prior Apple laptops which gave me thousands of hours of intense use and withstood heavy physical abuse, to be honest. They lasted longer than any laptop should have. But, my computing needs changed and I have used this MBP lightly and have a hard time seeing how this issue could come from ‘normal wear’.

    Hopefully this repair will last… it’s hard to tell how damaged the cable is. And that’s my impression: the cable was being damaged by normal use. As a loyal Apple customer, I pay a cost premium for not only the superior OS, but out of expectation of higher QC and design quality. This should have been a recall IMHO.

    Thanks very much JR!

  • 104 Martin Oct 3, 2009 at 4:04 am

    Hi Jason,

    Thanx a million for this fix !!! ;o)

    Just to let yer know, that I have (had!) exactly the same issue with my 2,5 year old ‘BlackBook’ (not the Pro!). The layout of the battery bay looks quite different from the Pro, but you can still see the slim ribbon cable :

    http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Repair/MacBook-Core-Duo-Battery-Connector/293/1

    (See step 3)

    I folded a bit of paper (actually a thin receipt/bill from my local ATM) on the small hole right below the larger grey plastic pad/patch shown in the picture above. I could see that the slim ribbon in this hole was slightly curled and first straightened it with a plier and then added the small folded paper on top of the slim ribbon and fitted the battery. Appears to be solved for this older MacBook/BlackBook ;o)

    Thanks again, mate ;o) Much appreciated!!!!!

  • 105 Leigh Oct 18, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Oh My God Thank you so much! I’m a college student and I hated lugging around a wireless mouse and keyboard. People in the library thought I was crazy! Yay for sticky notes!

  • 106 Brent Oct 19, 2009 at 6:20 am

    Add me to the list…God Bless 3M and Jason Robb. Problem solved–MBP running 10.6.1.

  • 107 driver97 Oct 22, 2009 at 2:51 am

    The course of events is appropriately called alternation of generations. ,

  • 108 WELBORN Oct 24, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    I had the same problem. I was pushing on the top case to solve it but this fix s easy quick and works great!

  • 109 Seamus Oct 25, 2009 at 7:24 am

    It was with huge relief that i stumbled on this thread and “fix’d” my 15″MBP from USB-keyboard-and-mouse only use. However over a period of 2-3weeks after using the post-it style “fix” the little ribbon has developed a blackened line across the little gold wires within, and looks like it has fused. Could this be because of the heat of the battery, or perhaps the pressure of the “fix” increases resistence along the ribbon connector creating it’s own heat. Anybody else encounter this . . . . .

  • 110 apple: ein garant für qualität « gurkendoktor Nov 1, 2009 at 4:01 am

    […] Danke: http://jasonrobb.com/2008/11/24/macbook-pro-unresponsive-keyboard-trackpad-solution/ […]

  • 111 Ollie Nov 1, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Add me to the list of people having this problem. The card worked for a while…but then stopped. I’m burning through so many batteries working off bluetooth keyboard and mouse, but hey, what can you do? Have a huge report to write very shortly and thinking about getting a cheap, crappy Windows job to do it on rather than my £1200 MacBook Pro. Of course, I would do it on my £1600 PowerMac G5, but of course that died too a couple of months ago due to a design flaw with the power circuitry.

    Nice work, Apple! I only need my iPod to stop working now and I’ll be a fully-fledged Apple widow.

  • 112 max Nov 1, 2009 at 10:45 am

    It WORKS,

    It’s the second time I have that problem. At the first time, I went at the Apple Store and they replaced the topcase (still under warranty). Problem solved for 6 months. Now, it occurs again 6 months after the warranty ended. I try your fix and it seems to works again (for how long…).

    Does somebody know if the problem can occurs with Snow leopard, I doesn’t buy it yet?

  • 113 Mark Nov 2, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Also having the same problem with a 2008 mbp 15″ 2.5. I noticed that when I was having the problem I could apply pressure to the portion of the top-case just between the trackpad and the keyboard and this would get the affected keys working again, but that I would have to apply pressure here almost all the time to have a working keyboard.

    After installing the sticky note over the orange cable, it appears to have fixed the problem. For how long not sure. Apple should be looking into this issue. I have a feeling that it affects people who have been using the laptop for 1+ years and enough time for the heat and use to affect the connection/cable.

    Thanks for the fix!

  • 114 Alex Nov 3, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Could we see a photo of the anti stick tape / placement on ribbon?

  • 115 air Nov 12, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Thanks from France! Merci beaucoup Mr Jason!

  • 116 pk Nov 23, 2009 at 11:31 am

    **Everyone**

    I have a 15-inch MacBook Pro from early 2008 - started having this problem about 1yr ago, too sporadically to diagnose. I figured it out just after the end of my warranty & called Apple - they wanted $310 + tax to repair, warranted only for 90 days. After months of using a workaround like the one described here, it stopped working last week.

    I visited the Apple store in NY yesterday and was told the same thing - $310 + tax. Called them again today, was escalated twice and they agreed to **repair it for FREE**. Basically, I cited the numerous Apple discussion forum posts, individual blog posts like this one & the way this issue often presents right around the end of the first year. Hopefully this helps some folks!

  • 117 billy Dec 10, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    I’m wondering if I have the same problem… my keyboard/trackpad will randomly stop working and to fix I just need to put it to sleep and wake it up (close the lid and open it, and it’ll immediately start working again).

    Are you guys having this problem as well, or is it like a total keyboard failure?

  • 118 Daxon Dec 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Amazing! Worked a treat! Thank you

  • 119 Keyboard and trackpad suddenly unresponsive sometimes. - Mac-Forums.com Dec 20, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    […] Take a look at this: MacBook Pro unresponsive keyboard & trackpad solution — Jason Robb […]

  • 120 Mikiw Dec 26, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Hi, Jason, Nice work. I’m fix my problem with this way. That’s so easy!

    But My way have a little different with yours. And it can work now!

    1. shut down your computer
    2. remove the battery
    3. sticky note on the ribbon cable
    4. put the battery back and keyboard and trackpad can works!

    That’s great! I’ll write these messages on my blog. Thanks a lot.

  • 121 Shannon Dec 31, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Thank you so much!!! I used the post it method and voila my computer is working again!!! I went to the genius bar and they weren’t very helpful, all they did was plug in a mouse and made it work. This actually fixed the problem.

  • 122 Isaac Jan 4, 2010 at 4:37 am

    I had this same issue back in May this year, which I temporarily fixed with the paper/card method described here. Then, the problem happened again, and I resorted to carrying keyboard and mouse with me for the following 6 months or so.

    Recently, I took the laptop to our IT tech (it’s a work laptop) who was going to send it back to Apple (he furnished me with a replacement laptop, given that it was unlikely to be done particularly quickly…). Before I gave the laptop to him, I thought I’d best remove the paper. He then returned later that day saying ‘what exactly was wrong with your laptop?’ - the keyboard and trackpad now work fine without the paper. So frustrating! I know they’re going to go again at some point, and tape may or may not work, so I still carry the keyboard and mouse with me. Between this and the epically slow 8-core 8GB Mac Pro I have at work, I’m not in any way impressed with Apple right now. Perhaps the most frustrating thing is that you really can build a machine that is so much faster (a desktop machine I mean) in everyday use for a tiny fraction of the price that Apple charge. Anyway, apologies for the off-topic rant, but the core of this message is:
    if the tape/card/paper trick stops working for you, try removing it - might work for you as it did for me!

    Cheers for the heads up on this earlier this year, saved my bacon while I was away on business!

    Isaac

  • 123 Wesley Ronka Jan 24, 2010 at 10:35 am

    I have the same problem on an early 08 MBP. Seems that the only solution once it happens is either to reboot, close the lid and wait for it to go to sleep and then open it again, or use an external keyboard and mouse.
    I tried your diagnosis #1 and after putting it to sleep and then removing the battery and applying pressure to the ribbon it DOES NOT come back to sleep, so this might NOT be a 100% effective diagnosis method.

  • 124 terry Feb 2, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    who ever discovered this, I LOVE YOU

  • 125 nosredna Feb 8, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    This happened to my early 2008 MacBook Pro this morning. The left or right side of the clicker worked, but not the middle. If I flattened my index finger down a little more it worked in the middle, but I wanted it to work the way it had before (using just the tip of my finger)! So I tried your post-it trick and it seems to have solved the problem. However, I, too, am worried about heat build-up causing a problem. Jason (and others here), is the post-it still in your MacBook over a year later–did it not burn the machine up???!!!! I just need some reassurance. Thanks! (I’m still on AppleCare, but the nearest Apple store is three hours away, and I can’t be without my Mac so can’t mail it off to them.)

  • 126 Laura Feb 10, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Hey, Thanks for the tip. I just fixed my fiance’s computer that has had that problem for about 4-5 months! He’s gonna be excited :)

  • 127 MMS Feb 21, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Thanks a lot Jason. This saved my day. Same issue happened to me today in the south of China with no chance of repair. Found the link to your blog at a german Apple forum via my second MB pro. Works. All the best, MMS