Unable to Click with Trackpad or Mouse in Mac OS? Here’s the Fix!
Since most of our computing activities require the usage of a mouse click or trackpad click, it’s understandably annoying if suddenly you’re unable to click anything on a Mac. Typically the inability to click occurs all of a sudden, where the mouse still moves around on the screen, but the user can’t click, and when a click on the trackpad or mouse is pressed, nothing is registered. Sometimes this pops up after a computer has been moved physically, some software has been installed, or the Mac has been rebooted, and while it’s peeving to not be able to click, it’s typically an easy issue to resolve in Mac OS .
Before anything else, you should absolutely check the hardware for obvious problems first. Usually there is no mechanical failure going on, but in some cases a MacBook bulging battery can push up against the trackpad mechanism and prevent clicking. Additionally, a damaged mouse or trackpad may also refuse to register a click, particularly if a Mac had water contact that seeped into the tracking area, or if a mouse took a dive into a swimming pool.
Check Any External Bluetooth Mouse or Trackpads
If you use a separate Bluetooth mouse or trackpad, like an Apple Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad, it’s possible the device has been turned on and something is pressing down on the click surface of that device, thereby rendering another mouse or tracking surface unable to click. This is surprisingly common, particularly for Mac users who use multiple tracking devices, or for MacBook users who carry and use a separate external Bluetooth mouse and who carry the computer around in a backpack or laptop back, where the mouse or trackpad may have become activated and is pressed against something else in the tote, thereby causing a refusal of Mac OS X to register and acknowledge other clicks.
An easy way to figure out if this is the cause is to temporarily disable Bluetooth. If suddenly the mouse or trackpad click starts working again, you have found your problem.
Don’t skip this, I know it sounds silly, but it’s a common cause of the mouse click not working. I just had it happen to myself, so don’t discount this.
Reboot, Close the Lid
If the click failure is occurring on a MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro then often rebooting and putting the Mac to sleep and then waking it up again after a few minutes seems to resolve the issue:
- Reboot the Mac as usual from the Apple menu
- When the Mac has booted back up, and assuming the mouse still isn’t clicking, close the lid and put the MacBook to sleep for about two minutes
- Open the MacBook lid and use the computer as normal, the mouse / trackpad should click as usual again
Admittedly that’s a quirky solution, but it does work to resolve inexplicable mouse failures in modern versions of MacOS and Mac OS X on the MacBook line.
Other Troubleshooting tips
- If the MacBook is new enough to have haptic feedback with a Force Click surface, sometimes disabling Force Click on the trackpad can resolve failure to register clicks
- Delete mouse and trackpad preference files to troubleshoot unusual behavior is particularly effective if the problem started happening after a system update or installing software
- Reset the Mac SMC controller, which requires a reboot
- Reset NVRAM / PRAM on the Mac, which also requires a reboot but is separate from the SMC process
- Check for hardware failures, like a bulging battery which would require replacement, or for dents or damage indicating a drop has occurred and may have caused a physical hardware issue – these type of hardware situations are typically serviced by Apple or Apple authorized repair centers
No Solution? Try Tap Clicking!
Another solution if all else fails is to enable Tap To Click on the trackpad, which allows you to simply tap a finger rather than press down to initiate a click, a feature that exists on the Mac and is popular with Windows laptops. Some people like this feature a lot anyway, and it’s an easy solution for trackpad and Magic Mouse users.
Have you experienced this issue where your Mac suddenly can’t click? If so, did the tips above resolve it for you as well? Let us know your experience in the comments!