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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > Pointers: fix the click on Magic Trackpad 2

Pointers: fix the click on Magic Trackpad 2
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MacNN Staff
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May 2, 2016, 10:30 AM
File this under "we spent an hour on it, so you don't have to." This Pointers is for when your Apple Magic Trackpad 2 appears fine, but won't click. It's a bit more urgent than that sounds, too: we don't mean you can't use Force Touch, we mean you can't click on something to drag it anywhere. It's not going to be a long Pointers but we've got the answer you want; then, just to cover all the bases, the answer that you're afraid it will be, and then the big mistake we made that you won't have to.

This Pointers was tested on a late 2012 iMac, with Apple Magic Trackpad 2 and OS X El Capitan. We can't prove what models and OS X versions it definitely will or won't apply to, but if your Magic Trackpad 2 works with your machine and then suddenly doesn't, then this solution is for you. Switch it on and off again Yes. Seriously. That's the answer. You didn't even realize you could do this, because it's so long since the one single time you ever flicked the switch to On. Look at the back of your Magic Trackpad 2, where you plug in the Lightning cable to recharge it. To the far left of that Lightning port, there is a very small on/off switch. You know what to do.
That really did entirely solve this most maddening of problems: switching the trackpad off and then immediately on again was the answer. The route to the answer, though, brought up some other issues. Since we know for a fact that there isn't any other page on the web that gives you this detail -- we looked -- then let us at least be completists about it. The bad answer You may have a duff Magic Trackpad. You've got to check out the rest of the possible issues or you'll look daft at the Apple Store, but it is possible that your trackpad is faulty. To be fair, we've not heard of any such problems on the Apple Magic Trackpad 2, but we have on the older Magic Trackpads, and we've seen them ourselves on MacBook ones. If you do the on/off trick, and then work through the rest of our issues but it still won't click or drag, then you need to go to Apple. It's not like that's hard, but it is a pain, and it does interrupt your work, so it's the last resort. Other issues If it isn't that the trackpad just doesn't click, if it doesn't do anything at all, then start with whether it's got any charge in it. Connect it with a Lightning cable to some power. Plugging it into your Mac will do the trick, but you'll probably charge it faster by using a wall socket. Either way, plug it in and leave it for a while. When you come back, take for granted that it's now charged up a bit, and if it still won't do anything like moving the cursor on your Mac, then the next job is to check that it's paired to that Mac. We haven't had a Trackpad lose its pairing, but we have with headphones, so in the spirit of ruling everything out that you can, try checking Bluetooth. You've spotted a snag there, though. If your trackpad can't move the cursor, then you can't select the Bluetooth icon in the menubar. In fact, you can't do much of anything. However, you can restart your Mac. On the iMac, reach around the back to press-and-hold the power switch. Pressing and holding should restart the Mac. If it doesn't, then it's at least switched it off, and you can now press it to start the machine up again. The iMac will spot that there isn't a mouse or trackpad connected, and it will start looking for one. Either it will find your Magic Trackpad then, or you can switch that on and off again and then it will be found. Just don't do what we did Our problem was, as we said, just that the trackpad wouldn't click, so we couldn't then drag anything. We couldn't drag an attachment onto an email, for instance. Otherwise, it all seemed fine: the cursor moved very quickly, we could point and tap to select things, we were living the life. Naturally, then, we assumed it wasn't a hardware problem, and we started off by checking out the System Preferences and its trackpad section.
We were looking at that Tap to click section, and you've guessed what we did. We tapped on it, and unchecked that option. To be fair, Apple ships its Macs with this option switched off: every time we try out a new machine in the Apple Store, we are reminded of this and wonder why Apple is insane. We prefer it on, and when your problem is that the trackpad won't click, we need it on. Now we couldn't get the trackpad to click, and we had switched off the option to tap-to-click, so we couldn't select anything. We couldn't click or tap on that Tap to Click option. We had to find our old Apple Magic Trackpad, the one we replaced with this new Magic 2 device, and use that. Fortunately, we found it, fortunately it still had working batteries in it. Then, fortunately, we found the switching on and off trick on the Magic Trackpad 2, or we'd still be using the old one. -- William Gallagher (@WGallagher)
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May 2, 2016, 01:08 PM
This solved a problem I was having when command click often didn't work for me (e.g., when opening a folder of bookmarks in my Chrome bookmark bar). This just started happening yesterday so the article was very timely for me.
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May 2, 2016, 04:13 PM
"Apple ships its Macs with this option switched off: every time we try out a new machine in the Apple Store, we are reminded of this and wonder why Apple is insane."

Are you kidding? Tap-to-click is the most misbegotten HMI abomination since Microsoft deciding that every scroll wheel on the planet should work backwards.

Apple's tap-to-click implementation is far less twitchy than most Windows versions, but I've never used a tap-to-click computer where I didn't accidentally click (or drag, or select, or drop into another folder) something unintentionally within the first minute.

Apple leaving that off by default is a merciful correct choice that prevents novice "I just use the defaults" users from wondering why their trackpads click at completely random intervals while scrolling around.
Charles Martin
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May 2, 2016, 04:21 PM
I've been using tap-to-click since I had a MacBook Pro with a funky trackpad (only one area would "click" properly) some years back, and thus am very used to it -- I don't tend to have any issues with it, even though I now own a MBP with a fully-working trackpad. I haven't gone back to "clicking," though I might give it a try again when I get a Magic Trackpad 2 (whenever that happens).
Charles Martin
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May 3, 2016, 12:11 AM
I absolutely HATE tap to click on anything. I'm simply rely far too much on tactile (REAL, not faked) feedback for that (I also prefer VERY good keyboards, for example.) I actually have a hard time using the new FFB Trackpads at all. They just don't respond in any kind of normal fashion to me. I expect actual movement, but there really isn't any and I know myself well enough to know I'll never get used to it. But I've always been that way. I mean, I use a $100 mouse and often customize my other input devices to fit my preferences. I'm not alone there. I see an awful lot of accidental clicking (and dragging) on client devices until that feature is turned off. My daughter, on the other hand, absolutely loves tap-to-click. To each his or her own. I do think it's good that Apple leaves it off by default, because it definitely causes problems for some people. Leaving it an option for those who prefer it is the way to go.
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May 3, 2016, 06:54 AM
For any one using a bluetooth pointing device, I recommend you turn on mouse keys. This way you can always navigate. I usually only use it to connect a bluetooth device that, for whatever reason, is not connected (the pairing is still there, it's just not connected).

System Preferences->Accessibility->Mouse & Trackpad. Click options next to enable mouse keys and turn on "press option 5 times...". Will save you in a jam-and much easier than finding an alternate device.
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