Mac

MacBook Cursor Jumps While Typing? 7 Fixes to Try

Dan Helyer Updated 19-12-2019

Does the cursor on your MacBook or MacBook Pro jump around every time you start to type? Maybe it moves all over the place with a mind of its own? One minute you’re typing away, then it starts highlighting random text and messing up your work.

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You probably find you’re hitting Undo as often as anything else. It’s a huge pain because every time you sit down to work, you need to waste time fixing all the errors you just created.

No matter what’s going on, you can fix a jumping cursor on your Mac with the instructions below.

Step 1: Turn Off Tap to Click

Tap to Click option in Trackpad System Preferences

Do you have Tap to click turned on? This feature makes it easy to select elements without clicking, but the added sensitivity means you might move the cursor whenever you graze the trackpad.

Go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Trackpad and uncheck the box for Tap to Click.

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If that stops the cursor from jumping around, you were probably resting your fingers or touching your wrist on the trackpad while typing. You can choose to keep Tap to Click turned off or adjust the way you type to keep clear of the touch surface.

Step 2: Keep Your Trackpad Clean and Dry

Arguably, Apple’s Magic Trackpad beats the Magic Mouse 5 Reasons Why a Magic Trackpad Is Better Than a Magic Mouse Here are several reasons why the Magic Trackpad is better than the Magic Mouse and why you should consider getting one. Read More in almost every way. However, you do need to be more careful about keeping the touch surface on your trackpad clean and dry.

Dirt, water, and even natural oils from your fingers can cause problems with the touch sensitivity of your trackpad. Use a lint-free cloth—slightly dampened if necessary—to keep the surface squeaky clean.

Alternatively, put some paper over the trackpad and try using it through that. If the cursor stops jumping around when you do this, look into getting a trackpad cover to use with your MacBook Pro instead.

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Step 3: Check for Problems With Your Power Adapter

MacBook USB C Charger from Apple
Image Credit: Apple

If you’re using a wireless trackpad or mouse, make sure it’s fully charged or put in a fresh set of batteries. Similarly, you should connect your MacBook Pro to power and give it time to charge.

There might be a problem with your power adapter. Disconnect it from your MacBook Pro and see if your cursor still jumps around while you type. If that fixes the problem, it’s possible that your charger isn’t grounded.

You can usually tell this is the case if your MacBook appears to hum, buzz, or vibrate while it’s plugged in. See about repairing your power adapter or replacing it with an official adapter instead.

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Step 4: Take Off Any Jewelry on Your Hands

It’s possible that your jewelry—if you’re wearing any—causes problems with the touch surface on your trackpad. Remove any rings or bracelets you’re wearing and move them away from the trackpad on your Mac.

If you’d rather not remove your jewelry, try using a third-party mouse with your Mac How to Use a Third-Party Mouse on Your Mac Most third party pointer peripherals (even those designed for Windows) will work on your Mac, so here's how to get the most out of them! Read More instead. This lets you keep your bejeweled hands well away from the MacBook trackpad, allowing you to see if it stops the cursor from jumping all over the place.

If you choose to use a mouse, you might want to turn off the trackpad entirely:

  1. Go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Accessibility.
  2. Scroll down in the sidebar and select Pointer Control.
  3. Check the box to Ignore built-in trackpad when mouse or wireless trackpad is present.

Ignore built-in trackpad option from Accessibility System Preferences

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Step 5: Reduce Wireless Interference Around Your Mac

Various sources of wireless interference can cause problems with the accuracy of your MacBook trackpad. They might be the reason your cursor jumps around while you type.

Follow the steps below to reduce the different causes of wireless interference:

  • Disconnect and turn off Bluetooth devices near your Mac. If you’re using a wireless trackpad, keep it connected and move it closer to your Mac.
  • Move your Mac away from microwave ovens, power cables, fluorescent lights, wireless cameras, cordless phones, and other potential sources of wireless interference.
  • Unplug every accessory from your Mac, and make sure to use shielded USB 3 cables for anything plugged in.

Step 6: Boot in Safe Mode to Test Third-Party Apps

Safe Boot text from login screen

Safe mode runs various troubleshooting checks on your Mac to help fix problems. When you boot your Mac in Safe mode, it also clears certain system caches and reduces the number of third-party apps that start up on login.

To boot into Safe mode, shut down your Mac, then hold Shift while powering it back on. From the login screen, your Mac should say “Safe Boot” in red text.

If Safe mode stops your cursor from jumping around while you type, restart your MacBook again and systematically uninstall third-party apps How to Uninstall Programs on Mac Need to uninstall programs on your Mac? You have several options! Here's how to remove programs and apps from your Mac. Read More until you fix the problem.

Step 7: Contact Apple for a Physical Repair

There might be a physical problem with your Mac causing the cursor to jump around while you type. Sometimes this is an issue with the trackpad itself, but it could also be a problem with the battery.

In most MacBooks, Apple installs the battery directly beneath the trackpad. As the battery ages, it could swell and press against the trackpad. Inspect your MacBook for signs of a swollen battery, like bent casing and poor battery life.

If you think your battery is swollen, don’t attempt to replace it yourself! Damaging it could start a fire or release toxic gases. Book in your MacBook for a professional repair with Apple or an authorized service provider instead.

Try Dedicated Trackpad Troubleshooting Tips

We’ve covered specific tips for when your Mac mouse cursor jumps around. However, we’ve also looked at what to do if your MacBook trackpad doesn’t work at all MacBook Trackpad Not Working? 4 Troubleshooting Tips to Try Is your MacBook Pro trackpad not working? We've covered four different troubleshooting methods. Let's start with the easiest to get your trackpad working again. Read More . Take a look at those tips if you still have trouble.

That guide includes advice like updating to the latest version of macOS, adjusting your trackpad settings, and deleting corrupt system files.

Use Force Touch to Do Even More on Your Trackpad

Your productivity is sure to skyrocket after you find out how to stop your MacBook Pro cursor from jumping all over the place while you type. But why stop with that? There are plenty of other ways to boost productivity as well.

If your MacBook is from 2015 or later, you should know about the most useful Force Touch gestures to use on your Mac trackpad 10 Genuinely Useful Force Touch Trackpad Gestures on a Mac Apple's Force Touch technology enables for pressure-sensitive clicks, which can vastly speed up how you access some of the system's most useful shortcuts. Read More . You can use them to look up definitions, peek at different web links, and add gradients to a picture with a single click.

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Computer Mouse Tips, Mac Tips, Touchpad, Troubleshooting.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Werner rhein
    December 16, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    I send this article to my local Apple dealership. I was there several times and told them my problem. They haven't heard of such a problem (typical).
    Why is there no direct Appel fix for this?

  2. j238
    July 4, 2018 at 2:31 pm

    I'm getting this running High Sierra & was getting it on earlier MacOS versions.
    Tends to happen when I am typing fast & type the letter "t," so far not while inputting this comment.
    It did happen once while using a Mac in an Apple Store.
    Most often when composing in gmail or inputting a comment in facebook.com website.
    Maybe I should just input another symbol, do a global change.

  3. Raja Ram Mummadavarapu
    January 11, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    This is so old, I still have it on Sierra OS, '14 MBP..!
    Any updates on this cursor jumping backwards while typing.

  4. Gary
    January 6, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Solved the accidental touchpad movement problem nagging me for months by setting the system preferences > trackpad > point and click > click to "Firm" and the tracking speed to just below middle. Either one alone might work, but no patience to experiment with project to finish. Good Luck. Mid 2015 MBP 15" El Capitan 10.11.6

    Gary

  5. Eric
    November 28, 2016 at 10:13 am

    it only happens to me when I type Swedish characters Ä, Å and Ö. SOOOOOOOO annoying

  6. Vic
    September 23, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Hi Guys.....I've read all the comments and I can't understand why when I'm typing I'll look up at the text or whatever and it's typing away somewhere else in the message. Obviously my giant thumbs or side of my hand has brushed the track pad. I have a MacBook Pro Safari El Captain I went to preferences and DO not have " ignore mouse, ignore anything". In preference my keyboard, mouse and trackpad are all separate icons. I checked for anything in all 3 to help with this jumping around random typing but I don't see anything that might help.

    If anyone has any suggestions I would greatly apperciate it.

    Thanks Vic

    • Rob Getreu
      September 25, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      HI Vic

      I have the same problem with a Mac Air 13". Problem started when I upgraded to El Capitain.

      SOOOOOO frustrating. Desperate for a fix that does not involve the potential of going back to the previous version of the OSX operating system

      Cheers.. Rob

    • Rob Getreu
      September 26, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      I think I may have found a work around. Basically, uptick all the options in TRACKPAD in Systems Preference. It seems to still maintain the ability to use the trackpad in click mode ( and not simply touch or tap) and you can only scroll down. But, at least it seems that the errant curser curse does not happen

      • rasa
        July 26, 2018 at 11:07 pm

        thank you.

  7. Maya
    July 1, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    Had no problem on my Macbook Air until an upgrade to El Capitan. Now the cursor is all over the place, drives me CRAZY. WTF?!

  8. Ed Sorensen
    April 25, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Purchased new Mac Book Pro in Dec 2015. Unusable problem with the jumping cursor. After many complaints and trips to the store they gave me another new one a month and a half ago. Same problem. The solutions of using a wired or remote mouse or trackpad is NOT a solution. I purchased a laptop for a purpose and to hang outside mice or trackpads are NOT any solution. This $2500 laptop is totally unusable for what it was intended. PS: I have a 2 year old MacAir 13" with same general keyboard/trackpad layout and never have this problem. From the various sites about this problem, it appears that isn't a minor or infrequent problem...it is a design problem and it appears that Apple is not going to step up and help a significant number of people that have purchased a product that is not able to be used as intended...or advertised.

    ED S. 25 April 2016

    • doubleujayh
      June 10, 2016 at 12:07 pm

      I thought that I'd share my latest experience in the hope that I have found a permanent solution to this problem. What I did was to connect a bluetooth magic mouse to my MacBook 12 inch and used it to do some word-processing for short. I managed to complete a whole page without encountering the accidental input problem. I disconnected the mouse completely (deleted it from my bluetooth devices option in System Preferences), opened another document and tried out the some more word-processing. Two pages of text without a single skip! The accidental input problem seems to have miraculously disappeared! I restarted the computer just to be sure and can confirm that I am still typing away happily without the irritation of the mouse cursor moving all over the place. Please post your findings if you find this work-a-round useful.

  9. Sharon A Buttry
    February 21, 2016 at 7:50 am

    I removed the battery. I have been getting a 'service battery message' for a while, so this made sense. I probably will get a new MACbook before I service the battery. Thanks for the fix!!!

  10. Linda
    January 7, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    My Mac is the latest Macbook Pro and when I click on the apple and try to do what you say, I can't find the items you say to look for. I get into preferences and then trackpad, and then there is nothing to click on under"ignore accidental trackpad input." My husband too k it to the dealer and he couldn't make it do the erratic behavior, when it happens to me ALL the time. Can it be the size of my hands when typing? When we got our first new Mac we called for server help. She watched me type from afar and said it was reporting I hit the trackpad overtime it jumped. I traded that one in for another just like it, but it does the same thing.My old one (which I am typing on) Is much bigger and heavier and doesn't do the skipping cursor thing. I cannot type on my new one and it is making an old shoulder injury reoccur and it is getting bad. So I have a new computer which I can't use!!

    • dobes
      April 13, 2016 at 5:58 pm

      I would bet that your new, jumpy trackpad is a ForceTouch one, and that your old one isn't. I have been having the exact same trouble with my new 2015 macbook, and lots of other people are, too. The ForceTouch trackpads are simply too sensitive to accidental brushing with thumbs or palms. Yes, I know that's why my cursor is jumping - but the trackpad on this thing is just HUGE, and exactly where am I SUPPOSED to put my thumbs while I type? They really have to be able to make the trackpad insensitive to touch while the keyboard is being used - and until then I'm afraid we have to learn to hold our giant thumbs in the air!

  11. Bill
    April 28, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    I have no trackpad on my iMac and it's doing it whenever (and only when) I type in Outlook for Mac 2011. I think it started up again with an update, because for a while it was not an issue. Why can't this get fixed?

  12. Araya
    January 4, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    On my older Macbook Pro, I just took out the battery, and that solved the problem. Only now I am tethered to an electric source. Thanks.

  13. Myrrh Maid
    December 21, 2014 at 4:47 am

    Though I tried some of your suggestions, none of them worked for me. I checked the Apple website and found this: "Moisture collecting on the trackpad can also cause this issue. Wiping off the trackpad with a cloth or tissue usually fixes this. If the issue goes away when a piece of paper is put between the finger and trackpad you may want to consider purchasing a Teflon applique to fit over the pad to prevent the moisture from having direct contact with the trackpad. Before installing the Teflon applique, confirm the trackpad is clean and dry. You can use a mild glass cleaner sprayed onto the cloth (not onto the trackpad itself) to clean the trackpad. Note that oil or lotion can also cause the same issue." That last line was the key to my problem -- lotion!

  14. nil
    December 10, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    I'm using Yosemite (brand spanking new) on a brand new i7 mac....

    Same issue within 2 months of owning it.

  15. akonan
    October 10, 2011 at 8:31 am

    None of the fixes applies to me. I'm on iMac, have upgraded to Lion already and does not use trackpad. The problem still occurs. Rebooting the computer will fix it for a while but eventually it will resume. Frustrating!!!

    • Angela Alcorn
      October 10, 2011 at 9:09 am

      So, you're using a mouse and it does this? Have you set it to “Ignore trackpad when mouse is present“?

      Maybe take it to get looked at - maybe it's not flat or something.

  16. Janis
    September 25, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    This article is already outdated. My new MacBook Pro with Lion installed does not have a "Ignore Accidental Trackpad Input. "

    • Angela Alcorn
      September 25, 2011 at 5:56 pm

      That's because on some models ignoring accidental input is automatically enabled already:
      http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3009

      If you're still having troubles, try the second option in the article. If you ignore the trackpad when a mouse is present and then plug in a mouse then you should have no problems. Good luck!

      • affsydney
        October 11, 2011 at 1:20 pm

        What is the second option in the apple article? It just says it is automatically on, but since updating to Lion, the cursor jumps around all over the place. I cannot see how upgrading to Lion resolves the issue.

        Of course, I have a multitouch trackpad. So, what is the second option? I can't see it.

         

      • affsydney
        October 11, 2011 at 1:23 pm

        Oh, the second option is with a mouse? I do not use a mouse. I just do not want the cursor to move around. What is the resolution of that? Is there a terminal command to turn it on?

        • Angela Alcorn
          October 11, 2011 at 1:47 pm

          That's the one: "2. Ignore Trackpad When Mouse Is Present"
          I don't know of a terminal command to fix it, sorry. Have you looked at the other options? That is, checking that your laptop is completely flat and testing the battery? Sometimes they make the cursor do crazy things.

  17. Anonymous
    August 5, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    This is a great article.  I hate it when this happened to me.  I got so sick of it that I ended up taking my MacBook to get it repaired by the guys at Keane Mac Repair in San Francisco.  I thought I was going to end up having to get parts replaced and have a huge labor bill, but the used the same fix in the article above and I no longer have the problem.

    • Bruce
      May 11, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      My keyboard entries on Mail, Pages and Text Edit jumped all over the place. After reading this forum I found the answer.
      System Preferences
      Accessibility
      Mouse & Trackpad
      Options (in upper RH corner)
      Check box for Ignore built-in trackpad when Mouse Keys is on
      Check OK
      Problem should be gone
      Bruce