How do I fix a Macbook Pro with freezing issues tied to the touchpad?

Denise E August 31, 2014
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I’ve recently (ie, in the last 72 hours) noticed that I’ve inadvertently made my Macbook freeze up.


  • Macbook Pro 13″
  • Aluminium unibody
  • Purchased in 2012 (it’s too young for such problems! :'( )
  • Never dropped it – some gentle nudges

The screen freezes up when I accidentally pressed down on the hand rest to the left of the touchpad. (And not even that hard: similar to pushing (not tapping) down on the touchpad to click).

What follows is that the screen freezes (at whatever state I’ve been using it) and the Macbook doesn’t seem to respond to any of my frantic button pressing (as a n00b, this is all I know how to do). This happens when I’ve been using the Internet, but I am sure that since this seems to be a hardware problem, it doesn’t matter what program I’m using at the time. Sometimes the screen shows a weird pattern that flashes for a second or so, and then freezes the screen as how I was using the Internet etc… It looks a little like alternating lines of barcode and jazzy colours. EG:

 weird colours
 weird colours

I have a feeling that it’s because I’ve pressed down on where the hard drive is (did a brief Google, but still a bit clueless about the new unibody anatomy).

I have resolved the problem by doing a hard reset, and after a hard reset, everything goes back to ‘normal’, or as normal as it has always been. But after doing this 3 times in the past 24 hours, I’m getting quite worried! I would like to know what is wrong and if it can be resolved. I have had a Macbook before (black, 2008, running Leopard OSX), and the hardware has been nothing but faithful.

Any advice on what to do would be useful – I live in Singapore and there are licensed resellers here, not actual Apple shops. My machine does have Applecare. But I am really quite keen to not have to send my machine to Apple as they will likely send me a refurbished unit, and I’d rather know what is wrong and get it repaired rather than getting a different machine (I’m a little sentimental, and I get attached, what can I say? You may critique this if you like).

  1. Oron J
    September 1, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Seeing your reply to Hovsep, I'd say the problem is almost certainly a hardware one. If I had to guess, a microcrack in the motherboard, or just a loose contact. If you're covered by AppleCare, contact them! I agree with Jan that it's unlikely that they'll want to offer you a refurb when a repair will do, but in any event, talk to them first, and if they suggest that all they can offer is a refurb, politely refuse and get it repaired elsewhere!

    • Denise E
      September 1, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      Hovsep, thank you for your useful advice, I will practice being polite in my refusals as that is what I am weak at. I hope Singapore has these authorised repair centres, because they also have a lot of bootleg or unofficial repair shops that are kinda like ifixit, but less.. er, reliable.

  2. Jan F
    September 1, 2014 at 12:18 am

    If the screen shows artifacts of whatever kind then it's usually a hardware issue - lose cable, defective RAM, defective graphics memory or chip. Your description of pressing the casing to produce it would support some connectors not being in order.

    You mentioned you have AppleCare for the device, I suppose it's the 'real one' from Apple, not some third party deal? Did you register it for your device within the initial warranty period (1 year)?

    If your AppleCare registration is in order you can go to any Apple Authorized Reseller or (in your case the better choice) an Apple Authorized Service Provider. Those service providers are eligible to do repairs themselves and usually don't have to send your device through half the country.

    You should not have to deal with any refurbished thing. That's usually "reserved" for iOS devices. For their Mac's they do perform actual repairs. I had in warranty cases where logic board, keyboard, top cover and back cover were replaced.

    • Denise E
      September 1, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      Thank you Jan! :)

      Yes, it is the real AppleCare, extended I think.. so I'll check how much I've paid for and look for a licensed service provider.

      Good to know about the refurb - that's encouraging.

  3. Hovsep A
    August 31, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    maybe linked to Ignore Accidental Input

    Intel-based Macs: Resetting the System Management Controller (SMC)

    • Denise E
      August 31, 2014 at 11:43 pm

      I took a look at the links you provided, but I don't think the issue is any of these. It's not the touchpad that's the problem, although the question seems to imply that it does - it's pressing down on the area to the =left= of the touchpad. (ie, the hand rest or whatever it's called)

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