The Fix: MacBook Pro Trackpad Scrolling Issue

If you’ve followed my last two posts, then you know my beloved MacBook Pro had to go in for repairs to the graphics card, which means they replaced my logic board (for free). Everything seemed to go well, but when I got it back, I noticed the trackpad wouldn’t scroll. I could grab the scroll bar and scroll the old-fashioned way, but when I moved my finger across the trackpad, the window wouldn’t scroll. It didn’t matter what program I was in either.

Since he asked whether there were any issues, I checked in with Sean, the AppleCare technician who had been helping me set up the repair. I asked if there was a simple fix or if I should take it back in to be looked at. I was a little concerned that they might not have hooked everything up right, though that seemed unlikely. Instead, Sean asked if he could call me, and we went through several steps to rule out a hardware issue and try to find the problem. All my trackpad settings were good. We tried replacing the com.apple.systempreferences.plist file (hold down the Option key and select Library from the Go menu to get here—in Library, go to the Preferences folder). I had already removed the trackpad plist files in case they were corrupt. But none of this solved the problem, so we logged me into my admin user account and checked scrolling there. No problems, so that ruled out a hardware issue — something was messed up with my main user account, but we couldn’t find where it was.

I will say, that I was impressed that Apple would spend this much time working with me when the repair had been done by a local authorized service location. Unfortunately Sean admitted defeat, saying he needed to research it and would call me back the next afternoon when he was back at work.

Naturally, I didn’t want to wait that long, so I kept researching and looking into it. I knew the tech guy who replaced my logic board had zapped the NV-Ram on my MacBook when he was testing it, so I figured some setting got set back to default, but I couldn’t find it. I thought maybe a keyboard shortcut could toggle the setting, so I searched for that and found  a really great site by Dan Rodney that lists them all (or most). This jogged my memory that there are settings in the Accessibility control panel in addition to the ones in the Trackpad control panel or General control panel, where we had already looked. Lo and behold, there was the problem setting. Under “Mouse and Trackpad” there was a button for “Trackpad Options” where “Scrolling” wasn’t selected. I clicked on that and the trackpad returned to normal!

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 9.53.27 PMScreen Shot 2015-06-16 at 9.53.47 PM

18 responses to this post.

  1. thank you thank you thank you thank you!!! this has been driving me nuts for months – ever since I had the same repair – you’ve just saved me wiping my profile and creating a new one (which was suggested by an apple tech) – funny thing is, it was fine in every other profile on my mac, except mine (up until now!).

    Many many many thanks!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Virginia on August 19, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Thank you for posting this, and for figuring out the solution!! It fixed mine too, also had had new logic board installed–after having spent several hours on the phone with Apple support, who tried to do everything possible.They had me create a test identity where touchpad scrolling worked fine. Was about to bring my Mac into Apple store for a few more lost days. So thanks again!

    Reply

  3. Posted by Nigel Goring on August 20, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Very Helpful this was my problem too, Accessibility scroll was OFF

    Reply

  4. Posted by Jenn on August 28, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    thank you! so glad that i found this post. saved me hours of time on the phone and searching for fixes!!

    Reply

  5. Posted by Ed on October 4, 2016 at 11:01 pm

    Just worked for me! Mid 2014 MacBook Pro No Scrolling after update to 10.12 ! This fixed it!! THANK YOU!!!

    Reply

  6. Posted by ATG on October 18, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Thank you!! This did help me today!! Doubt I would’ve thought of it!

    Reply

  7. Posted by Sujata on October 27, 2016 at 11:11 am

    Thank you ! Same problem, was driving me crazy, you saved the day!

    Reply

  8. Posted by John T on November 29, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    I can’t thank you enough! I also came up with the idea of looking in the Accessibility panel, and didn’t see the “Mouse & Trackpad” at first – because I couldn’t scroll! 🙂 When I saw your blog, I did a face-palm and went back in. Thanks SO MUCH! This is a brand new 2016 MacBook Pro and a software update seems to be what broke it.

    Reply

  9. I had added an old Wacom Bamboo Fun pad to my system. I opened the Wacom icon in preferences and saw the scrolling was enabled. I disabled it and the problem was solved.

    Reply

  10. Posted by AitchKay on December 21, 2016 at 2:35 am

    Thanks so much

    Reply

  11. Posted by Ramin Abrishamian on December 28, 2016 at 10:45 am

    Thank you. Saved me many hours of frustration.

    Reply

  12. Posted by Russell O on January 5, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Hi, I’m having the exact same issue but I reinstalled my Mac OS using the disks I got with my 2011 Macbook after a logic board replacement from Apple. I can’t find the ‘Accessibility’ control panel, only a ‘Universal Access’ which doesn’t provide me with any useful options. Am I looking in the wrong place or do I need to update my Mac OS??

    HELP!!

    Reply

    • I’m not sure which version of OS you’re using, but I checked for 10.6. The icon for Universal Access looks the same as the current icon for Accessibility, so I would guess they might be about the same. However, I would definitely upgrade the OS as far as you can. Try looking in the settings for Universal Access first, and see if you can fix the trackpad issue as described. In any case, update to a more current OS. It looks like you ought to be able to run 10.11, judging from the info I found on the MacBook Pro from 2011 at everyman.com.

      Reply

  13. Posted by kat on January 7, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    Thanks for such a great post!! Just got mine back and for some reason my scrolling was off as well…

    Reply

  14. Posted by asli on April 1, 2017 at 2:58 am

    hi, I have the problem, scroll stopped working all of a sudden last week, and would not work despite doing all the things mentioned above. PDF files cannot be downloaded on google chrome as well. these two problems started at the same time. I would appreciate some help. it really drives me crazy as I have had my MacBook pro only for a year.

    Reply

    • Did you make any changes at that time? For instance, did you install any new software or any update that could have caused these issues? Does it happen only in Chrome or in all programs? If you’re still under warranty or AppleCare, taking it to an Apple Store might be your best bet (or if you don’t live close, you can find service in your area through Apple Support).

      Reply

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