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Some Mac users may find that if they connect an external mouse or trackpad to their MacBook or MacBook Pro, the internal built-in trackpad then no longer works. This may appear like a bug, and some users may think it’s a hardware problem, but the good news is that the inability to use both a mouse and trackpad at the same time on a Mac almost always has a simple software solution.
This walkthrough will quickly show you how to fix this issue and get a MacBook Pro or MacBook able to work with both the built-in trackpad as well as an external mouse or external trackpad.
How to Fix Inability to Use MacBook Trackpad & Mouse at the Same Time
This applies to all MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air hardware that is also using an external tracking device, whether it’s a mouse or trackpad, USB or Bluetooth. Here’s how you can resolve this issue:
- Go to the Apple menu and choose “System Preferences”
- Choose “Accessibility”
- Select “Mouse & Trackpad” from the accessibility sidebar options
- Uncheck the box next to “Ignore built-in trackpad when mouse or wireless trackpad is present”
Now go ahead and try using both the external mouse or trackpad and the internal trackpad together again, it should work just fine as expected. If you had previously disconnected the external tracking device, go ahead and reconnect it again.
You should not need to reboot the Mac for any change to take effect.
If for whatever reason the MacBook is still unable to use both tracking devices at the same time, you may need to go further to troubleshoot Mac mouse and trackpad issues, often it’s an issue with battery life of an external device, a USB port or cable, crud jammed into the optical lens or accumulated on a tracking surface, or some odd preference issue where removing the relevant plist files can resolve the difficulty.
Many Mac users enable this setting if they have cats or kids, or if they find themselves in another situation where the built-in trackpad on a Mac is frequently being touched or bumped against while they’re trying to work with an external pointing device. But of course if you forgot to disable it, or if you didn’t realize it was enabled in the first place, you may lead to the conclusion that there is some problem with the Mac, the trackpad, or the mouse, when in reality it’s simply a software setting to avoid unintentional tracking motions and input.
This is a setting that is only relevant to Macs with built-in trackpads, meaning the laptop line including the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and MacBook. If you’re having issues using two different pointing devices on a desktop Mac like an iMac, Mac Mini, or Mac Pro, it’s more likely to be related to an incompatibility between devices, some conflict in software, or perhaps a hardware issue.
Mouse and Trackpads have been around for so long you could imagine they may be completely trouble-free by now, but like all technology there is always some potential for quirks. Some of the more common issues with mouse and trackpads are an inability to click, single-clicks registering as double-clicks, Bluetooth devices repeatedly disconnecting, or other weird behavior, most of which is easily troubleshooted through steps detailed in each article.