Apple

Broken MacBook trackpad, can you change it yourself?

Important things to know

When making a trackpad change, you have to take into account different previous aspects. We are talking about a repair operation that forces you to open your Mac and manipulate it. That is why we recommend that you read everything you should keep in mind below.

Can it be changed on any MacBook?

Trackpad replacement in general can be done without much problem in the vast majority of Macs. Unlike what happens with the battery or other elements, the trackpad is not soldered to the chassis of the device. This means that the only limitation that you can find whenever you are about to make this change is finding the replacement independently as we will comment below.

But beyond that it is not a process that has too many limitations, even in the most modern MacBook models. One of the points that are taken into account by the experts who value the repair process of these computers is the “ease” to be able to perform a trackpad replacement. That is why the change can be made at home although it is not always the most recommended as we will see below.

It is not a simple process

Although the change can be made on the vast majority of Mac models, it is not a straightforward process. We are talking about disassembling the computer from its back and manipulating the internal components. We are not talking about opening, viewing the part and removing it to change it. Different steps must be taken in which the battery itself and its cables must be manipulated in order to disconnect. Keep in mind that the trackpad is located at the bottom of the keyboard and it is in this area where the battery itself is located.

It is for all this that you should always be very careful when taking the step to repair the trackpad. It is no longer having the steps and tools to change it, but that any failure that may be had will end in a fatal result for the computer in general. This makes it not a simple process to execute and that a person at home despite being able to do it is not the most recommended.

Risks involved

As we have previously commented, it is not a simple process since you need to have computer knowledge to be able to make this change in a safe way. It is not enough to know which zone to manipulate, but any failure can end in a fatal result. To get a minimum idea, in one of the steps to make the change you must use a heat source on a cable near the battery. Applying more heat than necessary can lead to overheating.

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But beyond the risks that the Mac can be subjected to in general, you have to take into account the guarantee. When you open the Mac and start manipulating it, the warranty with Apple is automatically voided. This means that if you have a Mac under warranty, change the trackpad satisfactorily yourself and you have another problem with which you go to Apple, the computer will not be repaired for free. This is something that must always be taken into account and without a doubt it is one of the greatest risks to take into account together with the fact of directly breaking the computer.

What will you need to get on with it

Before getting down to work, keep in mind that different elements are needed to be able to disassemble the computer and also the spare part, as we remind you below.

The tools

The fact of disassembling a Mac is not an easy process since specific tools are needed for it. It is not useful to have a classic screwdriver, since if you turn your MacBook right now you will see that it has screws that are really small and that is why you will need special screwdrivers. In Amazon itself you can find different sets of Torx tools, to be able to remove all these screws.

In addition to the screws, the typical tines and suction cups will also be necessary to be able to remove the cover without any problem. In addition, it will also always be necessary to have a heat source that can be a simple dryer since in one of the steps you will have to heat a cable to be able to manipulate it and remove the trackpad almost at the end of the process.

Spare part

Obviously when a trackpad change is going to be made, it is essential to have the part that you are going to put back when you remove the one that is damaged. In the official Apple store it is impossible to access these types of components that are official, so you should always opt for external stores where you can find this type of component, such as Amazon, Aliexpress or Ebay. In these you can find the trackpad although you should always check with the model since it must match exactly, because not all trackpads are designed for all MacBooks.

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In addition to the trackpad, in some cases you must also buy the necessary cable to be able to make the connection with the motherboard, which can be an extra change. This change should only be made when you have detected a failure in the connection and not in the hardware as such, which can be on the trackpad. As in the previous case, it cannot be found in the SATs either, but in the online stores that we have discussed.

Get to work: follow these steps

Once you have everything ready and you have decided to do the repair, it is time to disassemble the trackpad. In our case, we are going to explain it with images from the iFixit website on a 2020 MacBook Pro, although it is a process that can be extrapolated to other devices. Keep in mind that this is a process that will consume up to 40 minutes of your time, and that for security reasons it should be done with the Mac completely disconnected from the power supply. The steps to follow are those:

  1. Remove the screws from the back cover with the appropriate screwdrivers.
  2. Use the suction cups and clips to be able to open the lid and remove it safely.
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  3. Locate the battery on the bottom and remove the tape between the motherboard and the battery.
  4. Locate the connection cable and remove the black tab that secures it. Disconnect the cable that powers the trackpad from the battery.
  5. Remove the 3.7mm pancake holding the battery power connector.
  6. Disconnect the battery and remove the cable connector bracket.
  7. Disconnect the ribbon cable from the trackpad with a screwdriver against the motherboard.
  8. Use a text dryer to loosen the adhesive that holds the ribbon cable to the top of the battery.
  9. Locate and remove all the screws around the trackpad.
  10. Open the MacBook a bit and pull the trackpad out the front along with the ribbon cable (which can also be changed).

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Once disassembled, the process to place the new trackpad is exactly the same but going backwards. You have to be very careful to leave the cable that powers the poor trackpad perfectly in place, since a bad connection can end up causing it to boot correctly in no case and therefore not be detected by the operating system. Likewise, it must also be perfectly fitted with the screw system that it integrates, having to be very careful with the set of washers that can be easily lost when removing the original trackpad.

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