I have a Macbook Pro (Retina, Late 2012) running OS X El Capitan (10.11.13).

What works:

  • Secondary click with two fingers
  • Feel/sound of trackpad click (no noticeable change in the feel of the trackpad)
  • Three/four-finger swipes/gestures

What doesn’t work:

  • Primary (i.e. left) click
  • One finger tapping to click

What I’ve tried:

  • Toggling System Preferences Trackpad settings
  • Rebooting
  • Toggling Bluetooth even though it’s normally off and I don’t own a bluetooth mouse (Can't click with trackpad or mouse (OS X 10.9, MacBook Pro))
  • Using a USB mechanical mouse (right click worked, left click didn’t)
  • Switching the Primary mouse button with the USB mechanical mouse connected (Secondary click on the left button worked, Primary click on the right button didn’t)
  • Reset SMC and PRAM (http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/reset-macs-smc-pram/)
  • Apple Hardware Test (No results found, could not click “Perform extended testing”)
  • Booting in Safe Mode
  • Checking Battery Health ("Condition: Normal” according to System Report; some people have had trouble with their battery bulging)
  • Laying my Macbook Pro on its side and tapping underneath the trackpad area (https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3097419?start=15&tstart=0)

I’m confused.

I’ve used the Accessibility Options Shortcut (Fn-⌘-⌥-F5) to turn on mouse keys, which I’ve been using for the past week. As fun as it is to toggle mouse keys on and off, I’d really like to get the clicking working. Please help. I will be happy if this has a stupid easy answer.

  • Does clicking work properly in another boot volume or recovery mode?
    – Hefewe1zen
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 23:26
  • Have your tried using Apple Hardware Test to see it it detects a hardware issue with the Trackpad? I'd also suggest booting with a Linux Live USB Flash Drive to see it the Trackpad/Mouse works under Linux. Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 2:14
  • Still doesn't work in Recovery Mode. I have tried the Apple Hardware Test (I forgot to format it as a separate bullet point after "Reset SMC..."), but nothing came up.
    – scarp1a
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 21:30
  • I see you ordered the screwdriver kit and Trackpad however before you go tearing it apart, boot it with a Linux Live USB Flash Drive and if it doesn't work there either then it's a hardware issue. Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 2:24
  • @user3439894 Forgot to mention that I did try it booting from a Ubuntu USB stick with no luck.
    – scarp1a
    Commented Mar 27, 2016 at 0:32

5 Answers 5


I have experienced this before. Your trackpad is faulty and is probably stuck in the "clicked position".

First thing: Try disabling the trackpad. In terminal, issue the following command:

defaults write -g com.apple.mouse.ignoreTrackpadIfMousePresent 1

You may need to reboot.

If the problem goes away while using your USB mouse, then the issue is your trackpad.

If you have Apple Care, you should take it in for service.

If you are comfortable doing the repair yourself, it is a fairly inexpensive part to swap out. Amazon has them for under $35. It will require removing the battery to gain access to the track pad.

ifixit.com has excellent guides on how to do this.

In the meantime until you get it fixed, you should use a regular mouse or an external trackpad.

  • Thanks for the quick response. I figured it might be a hardware issue. I just tried disabling the trackpad with my USB mouse plugged in, but I still couldn't left click...
    – scarp1a
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 2:08
  • What if you boot into recovery mode like you were going to reinstall OS X (Command + R). Also, just noticed that the 0 should be a 1 in my answer.
    – Allan
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 2:14
  • Still doesn't left click in Recovery Mode. I figured out the disabling of the trackpad.
    – scarp1a
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 21:29
  • If it dosen't work in recovery mode then it's definately hardware.
    – Allan
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 22:40
  • Screwdriver kit and trackpad already ordered. Thanks!
    – scarp1a
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 22:57

Let's just say it's a story of unknown Bluetooth interference or a paired Bluetooth device that’s in range of the Mac.

I had this very issue last week on my Early 2013 15' MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Normal (Left) mouse-click wouldn't work under any conditions while running OS X, the built-in Trackpad, Magic Mouse or USB Mouse, while the secondary-click was fine on all.

I booted my MBP with a Linux Mint Live USB Flash Drive and the built-in Trackpad, Magic Mouse and USB Mouse all worked, both normal-click and secondary-click. So at least I knew the built-in Trackpad, Magic Mouse and USB Mouse hardware was fine and it was looking like a software issue.

As another trouble shooting process I made an OS X USB Flash Drive Installer, figuring it would boot clean and the built-in Trackpad or Magic Mouse would work fine since it worked under Linux, however during the install... no normal-click would work, while the secondary-click was fine.

Turns out my Magic Trackpad, which I was not using and was in the closet, was depressed by a book that fell over on to it. Because it was connected, even though not in use, it was causing the other clickable devices to fail on the normal-click while the secondary-click still worked.

This drove me crazy for a couple of hours because the book fell when I was not in the room, so I never heard it or suspected the Magic Trackpad to be an issue. Linux Mint Live USB Flash Drive worked because the Magic Trackpad was not paired to it and therefore couldn't and didn't interfere. Unlike in OS X it automatically connected.

What a pain it was but who doesn't love a good mystery!

Do you by chance have a Magic Trackpad lying around?


Or a Bluetooth mouse in a travel bag - if that mouse is pressed down, you can’t ever get a left mouse up event from any other device.

  • Nope, no Magic Trackpad. Unless someone snuck into my closet and left one there. That would be weird. Thanks for the response.
    – scarp1a
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 2:03
  • > Turns out my Magic Trackpad, which I was not using and was in the closet, was depressed by a book that fell over on to it. Because it was connected, even though not in use, it was causing the other clickable devices to fail on the normal-click while the secondary-click still worked. ... That was it for me! In a box in another room... Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 2:19
  • I was somehow mashing a connected keyboard that put me in to 'right click only' territory. Disconnecting the keyboard (or, probably, lifting up the thing that was mashing it) solved the mystery. Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 12:44
  • 1
    This was it. I just had to turn off bluetooth, without clicking :)
    – Jack Casey
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 0:16
  • 1
    @Phylliade, I found out about blueutil shortly after I posted this, but thanks for the comment, and assuming you upvoted too (if not that's okay). Commented Aug 19, 2019 at 17:40

TL;DR: Try to rule out 'Ctrl' key hardware malfunction if you are unable to left-click.

I encountered this question when attempting to solve my own problem of inability to left-click on a Macbook Pro, so I'll put the solution here in case it helps anyone.

I have experienced a similar situation in which every 'left click' attempt both from an external mouse and the trackpad seemed to be interpreted as 'right click'. I followed a similar set of error-fixing attempt steps as described in the question. This included me attempting to reset the NVRAM multiple times, but was unable to do so -- the login screen kept appearing as normal.

The cause of both of these issues was a stuck 'Ctrl' key on my external keyboard. This prevented the Cmd+Option+P+R reset from working, and also causes each left click to seem to be interpreted as a right click.


I experienced the left mouse button stuck in clicked position issue.

It turned out I simply had a Magic Mouse inside my backpack, paired with the mac, turned on and -of course- pressed.


Go to System Preferences → Accessibility → Mouse and Trackpad. Slow the double click speed.

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