Apple Magic Trackpad issues in OS X El Capitan

Last updated on Mar 23, 2017

A bug in OS X El Capitan causes issues with Apple’s new Magic Trackpad 2. As a result of these Magic Trackpad issues, OS X intermittently doesn’t register clicks.

While I was battling Bluetooth connectivity issues with Apple’s Wireless Keyboard and Magic Trackpad, I thought the problem might be hardware-related. When Apple released the new Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2, I decided to upgrade, hoping it would fix the problem. As we know now, the hardware didn’t cause the issue but a bug in OS X that Apple has fixed meanwhile.

Shop mentioned products

Sometime during the OS X El Capitan 10.11.X beta cycle, I started noticing the following intermittent issues:

  • Trying to drag and drop files in Finder wouldn’t work. It appeared as if the “click and drag” event wasn’t registered by OS X or Finder and I had to re-grab the file a couple of times
  • Clicking on individual UI elements, such as the minimize, maximize or close buttons wouldn’t work. The click just wouldn’t do anything and neither would a force-click.

Magic Trackpad 2 & El Capitan

I was hoping that the GA release of 10.11.4 would fix the problem, but it didn’t. So I called Apple Support to see if they had heard about this issue at all.

I had low expectations because front-line support usually can’t help with these type of problems. I guess my tone of voice and attitude already signaled that because neither the guy who picked up nor the senior advisor I was transferred to made much of an effort to understand the problem.

Their recommendation was to try to reproduce the problem with a different user account and, if need be, to re-install OS X. Even though that approach makes sense to isolate the problem, I don’t get paid by Apple to do their quality assurance and didn’t want to invest that time.

If it smells like a bug

I shouldn’t jump to conclusions but the following symptoms, in my humble opinion, point to a bug in OS X’s input event handling and not to an issue with my user profile or configuration:

  • Apple just fixed a number bugs related to input devices
  • Magic Trackpad 2 and force click are brand new technologies
  • The problem is intermittent
  • Neither OS X nor applications are freezing or become unresponsive

It just seems like somewhere along the event handling line, the “physical” click on the Magic Trackpad 2 does not get forwarded to OS X or the application. To me, that just has bug written all over it.

Workaround

A workaround for this problem is to switch applications temporarily. For instance, if Finder doesn’t register clicks I would switch to Safari and then immediately back to Finder. After the switch, click events in Finder register again. After hours or sometimes even days later, the problem would occur again.

Troubleshooting steps

When I blog about issues like this one, I usually have a solution or idea of how to solve the problem. Not in this case! But before I start investing hours and potentially days of troubleshooting, I’d like to find out if there are other affected users out there. If I’m the only one with this issue, I’ll perform the following troubleshooting steps to narrow down the issue:

  • See if problem persists with the older Magic Trackpad
  • Create a new user profile on my Mac and see if issue still occurs

But I guess that I’m not alone, and so I’ll file a bug report with Apple and then patiently wait for them to fix the problem in one of the next releases.

Fixed: Apple Magic Trackpad issues in OS X El Capitan

It turned out a bug in OS X caused the issue, and Apple has since fixed it. As of this writing, I use macOS Sierra, and I still experience the occasional problem with Apple’s peripheral devices. If you are affected and are on an older version of OS X, I would recommend upgrading to the latest version of macOS.

Michael Kummer

Atlanta | Austrian | Blogger | Father of a preemie | Paleo fan | Traveler | Amateur photographer | CrossFit
7 Responses to "Apple Magic Trackpad issues in OS X El Capitan"
  1. Yes I have the same issue and it’s driving me mad…i went back to my old Trackpad until a fix is available. Would be very interested to hear about any findings on this

  2. Same here. Trackpad 2 intermitted lags and hangs. After clicking a few times or swiping it’s live again.
    Odd…. :(

  3. Should add that I just installed the latest 10.11.5 update. Issue still persisting….
    Still not sure that it’s not a hardware or firmware problem of the trackpad.
    I read somewhere else about people returning it to Apple and the new one was working fine.
    Anyone?

    • Odd indeed! My issues almost completely disappeared after upgrading OS X. Intermittently my trackpad doesn’t register clicks but even that has become a rare occurrence. If in doubt get the trackpad replaced and see if it fixes the problem…

  4. I am having a very similar issue with an older magic trackpad. It works fine for some amount of time and then, Bang, Click and drag message to a different mailbox and it starts highlighting. Thought it was only in Mail, but it manifests itself in iTunes as well.

    Only workaround for me is a reboot. Really pissing me off.

  5. Yes, I have the problem with the old track pad. I came across your blog when I googled the situation. It is SUPER annoying! I have replaced the batteries with the rolled up foil. That has not solved it. I was going to say the keyboard was fine BUT it just deleted my post.
    I am not a “techie” just someone who needs to get things done.
    When my hand gets close to the track pad it causes text to be highlighted. Now, I do not have any electronic implants (pacemaker etc). I moved my cordless phone across the room. That didn’t do it. Just now I put the track pad far from my keyboard and SO FAR the keyboard is behaving. Could there be interference between the two?
    Good luck, I’ll keep returning to your blog for the latest.

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