MacBook Boots but No Keyboard/Trackpad


My wife’s 2015 (just out of extended warranty!) MacBook Pro Retina 13”, High Sierra 10.13.6, boots fine but the built-in keyboard and trackpad are not connecting. We can connect an external BlueTooth keyboard and a Logitech external wireless mouse, but the built-in keyboard and trackpad don’t work.

It seems like the internal keyboard/trackpad controller has stopped working for no apparent reason. We’ve had no power issues. The MacBook is fully charged and all power systems appear to be working.

We’ve tried various solutions found through Google and Apple Support articles, but holding various keys on either the built-in or wireless keyboards while booting doesn’t work because the built-in keyboard doesn’t work, and it appears that the wireless keyboard is not active during that phase of the boot.

Here’s what we’ve attempted hoping something would work anyway, but so far no joy.

  • Booting in Safe Mode

  • Resetting the SMC

  • Resetting the PRAM

  • Booting from an external SuperDuper backup: Strangely, after booting from the backup we couldn’t see the SSD in the Finder or the Startup Disk Preference panel to switch the boot drive back. It showed up in the Disk Utilities app list of drives but was unmounted and I couldn’t figure out how to get it mounted. When I rebooted holding Option on the wireless keyboard it did boot into the Startup Manager with both the SSD and the external drive available and I could select the SSD to boot from. This seems to show that the wireless keyboard was being read early in the boot process, so now I’m very confused about why Safe Mode didn’t work.

Any suggestions for how to proceed would be appreciated.

Just the other day our in-house tech told me how he thought Apple’s hardware quality had suffered these last few years. He mentioned several MBPs where the internal KB/trackpad stopped working because of a frayed/unseated/worn out ribbon cable. I certainly didn’t understand the details, but it sounds like you could be experiencing something similar.

Apple has at times been quite generous about warranty repairs. If you’re just out of AppleCare, I’d take it to an Apple store and ask them to run diagnostics. If they see you’re just barely out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them do it under AppleCare or at least at minimal cost to you. Good luck! :slight_smile:

It would be interesting to see if a USB connected keyboard/mouse would also work.

But for something like this I’d be heading into an Apple Store or a local repair shop who is authorized. It’s sounds like a hardware fault somewhere to me. Simon is right, they sometimes have some leeway re coverage. If you had other kit, phones, other Macs under AppleCare that’s sometimes enough.

Turned out it was a loose cable which the tech said was the #1 cause of this problem in laptops, rarely is it a controller on the motherboard. Serendipitously, the laptop had, unknown to us, a repair order from Apple to replace the retina screen as these are apparently failing in 2015 MacBook Pros. So for the cost of the tech to reseat the cable, we also got a new retina display!

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