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Jumpy cursor/erratic trackpad problem and solution

11351 Views 20 Replies Latest reply: Aug 11, 2008 3:42 AM by gutzi RSS
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mbranning Calculating status...
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Mar 10, 2008 5:59 PM
I'm visiting Buenos Aires and my Macbook air has been intermittently having a problem with the trackpad. The cursor will jump around and the scroll function (2 fingers) was erratic. I tried a bluetooth mouse and it still wasn't "right".

I just figured out that it only happens with the charger is connected. This did not occur in the US but Argentina is 220V...that must be a contributing factor. I'm using the standard charger supplied with the MBA and an adapter. The plug is the type with 2 slanted prongs ... / \ .

I'll probably call Applecare when I get back to the States but thought others may be having this difficulty, so I'm posting my experience. If someone at Apple is monitoring this and forwarding it for investigation, I'd appreciate an email so I don't spend the time.
Macbook Air, Mac OS X (10.5.2), 1.6GHz with 80GB HDD
  • mjgrainger Calculating status...
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    Mar 10, 2008 10:37 PM (in response to mbranning)
    I've been having this problem as well but unfortunately mine has been occurring both while connected to the power adaptor and while running on battery. I'm in New Zealand so 240v AC for me.

    The machine will run fine for a while, sometimes for days without incident - then at random, the trackpad will go crazy, the pointer jumping around the screen and clicking randomly. Makes it difficult to even restart the machine as you can't click where you want to.

    A restart will clear it up for a minute or two, then it tends to start again. Machine is cool, fan isn't running, so this isn't prompted by overheating. Have re-installed OS X and this didn't help the problem - have also seen the issue both prior to and following the 10.5.2 update.

    I can only assume this is some kind of hardware problem - and my retailer agrees. Currently waiting for my replacement MacBook Air - hopefully it won't exhibit the same strange behaviour!
    MacBook Air 1.6/80GB, iMac Core Duo 2ghz, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • antiorario Level 1 Level 1 (50 points)
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    Mar 11, 2008 12:49 AM (in response to mjgrainger)
    I had the same problem, but only for a couple of hours on day one (which was four days ago). My Air showed a few weird behaviors on day one, which fortunately never came back – I'm pointing the finger at the stress of installation+data import+first wireless backup.

    While I don't have any solution to the problem itself, I can give some (unwanted? unneeded?) advice if your cursor is so crazy you can't even shut down or restart: if you haven't changed any settings, you can access a sleep/restart/shutdown dialog box by simply pressing the startup button (as with any Mac laptops). Or you can activate the Apple menu by pressing (Fn)-Ctrl-F2, and navigate it using the arrow keys.
    MacBook Air, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • mjgrainger Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    D'oh! You learn something new - and simple - every day! Thanks, never thought to tap the power button.

    Mine was the same as yours, Antiorario - problems on day one, then nothing for five days. Then I was partway through watching a .avi movie in Quicktime, and the pointer started clicking on the QT controls at random, pausing and unpausing the video, fast-forwarding etc. Closed QT, and the pointer was going haywire again.

    Incidentally, I forgot to note above that I ran Activity Monitor while this was going on, and the only process using CPU at the time was Activity Monitor itself. I have Dashboard turned off. So it's definitely not a CPU load issue, which I thought it might be at the time ...
    MacBook Air 1.6/80GB, iMac Core Duo 2ghz, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • Volker Runkel Level 6 Level 6 (12,060 points)
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    Mar 11, 2008 2:58 AM (in response to mbranning)

    I doubt that the voltage of your power line is contributing anything. The brick deals with changing the 110/220V to the necessary, much lower voltage. Thus the MBA does always see the same voltage.

    20" iMac(Intel), G4 MDD 2x867MHz, MBA 1.6/HDD, ACD 20", iPodTouch, Mac OS X (10.5.2), and one machine on 10.4.11
  • ROMANO1300 Calculating status...
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    Mar 14, 2008 9:28 AM (in response to mbranning)
    I have the same problem with the cursor being crazy and it happens both on battery and plugged in.
    then tt goes away and comes back when ever it wants. I'm out of town now but I plan to bring it back to the store as son as I get back. As you can see there are several people with the same issue.
    I think it's hardware problem.
    MACBOOKAIR, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • James Bailey Level 2 Level 2 (230 points)
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    Mar 14, 2008 5:55 PM (in response to mbranning)
    I've got the same first I thought it was the USB hub I was using. I bought and used a different hub, and all was fine for a while, but then it started acting crazy again, then okay for a couple of days...I know it wasn't the hub. I'll give Apple one update to fix this before I take it in for a replacement. It may well be hardware.
    MacBook Air iMac Mini iPhone 80GB iPod Nano, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • gutzi Calculating status...
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    Mar 18, 2008 12:31 AM (in response to mbranning)
    I am seeing the same problem on my MacBook Pro: machine running fine for a while, then at random, the trackpad goes crazy, the pointer jumps around the screen and clicks randomly. This happens sometimes even when I am not touching the trackpad.
    Using an external mouse solved the problem for the moment. But I haven't worked for a long time in a row with an external mouse - so I can't definitively say, that it solves the problem completely. The other day the problem continued even after a restart.
    Talking to Apple Support on the phone brought no solution. Concerning this problem they can only refer to But all causes listed here are not applicable in my case.
    Bringing the device in for repair today.
    MBP 15.4'', Mac OS X (10.5.2), 2.6GHz with 250GB HDD
  • Ken Stone Level 3 Level 3 (500 points)
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    Mar 31, 2008 4:47 AM (in response to mbranning)
    While researching this issue in the support area, I found this article that may be relevant to an earlier post:

    Intel iMac; PB G4; 1.5GHz G4 Sawtooth, MB Air, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • Ken Stone Level 3 Level 3 (500 points)
    Another follow up to this issue: it only happens to me when I am connected to the internet by ethernet (via a USB/ethernet adaptor). If I unplug the ethernet (but still leave the adaptor connected) then the issue goes away. Very reproducible.
    Intel iMac; PB G4; 1.5GHz G4 Sawtooth, MB Air, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • Anant Sundaram Calculating status...
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    Apr 12, 2008 8:16 AM (in response to mbranning)
    My wife is having the same problems on her MBA -- random cursor movements, jumpy, hypersensitive, erratic trackpad, weird 'shadow/translucent boxes' that resize when moving one's finger around on the trackpad, etc. Right now, since she is abroad for a few weeks, she can't send it in/bring it in to be checked. (She tried changing the trackpad settings in System Preferences, and that was no help).

    Hope there is a solution to this soon -- it's driving her nuts.
    MBA, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • vikingasia Calculating status...
    problem is this: (for me)
    when you are NOT used to the larger track-pad your 'other' fingers tend to 'drag' around on the (BIGGER) track-pad - be aware of the behaviour of your other fingers??

    PB G4, G5, Mac Book Air, iPhone, Mac OS X (10.5.2), Unix geeky
  • Mulaifi Calculating status...
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    Apr 27, 2008 2:07 PM (in response to mbranning)
    I had the same problem with my new Macbook Pro. As this link says:

    it's power adapter (grounding) related. I was using my old Macbook power adapter, and as soon as I replaced the brick with the one that was shipped with my MBP the problem was solved.
    Macbook Pro, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
  • spiitz Calculating status...
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    Apr 29, 2008 8:14 PM (in response to Mulaifi)
    To everyone with this mouse lag problem, who also has a Macbook Air,

    check your processors when you have this problem. If your first core is spiking and your second seems dead, this is likely a core shutdown problem due to overheating. iStat menus, with both cores set to show, will help you see this problem when it happens. The mouse lags and so will your dock icons because your system is overheating, then to reduce heat, one of the cpu cores shuts down temporarily to reduce heat. This is a problem that is effecting many macbook air's. Do not make the mistake of thinking this is some random issue. Join the masses who know this is caused by overheating. Proper diagnosis will force Apple to fix this systemic problem.

    Here here are other threads that shows how widespread this problem is.

    hope this helps!
    MBA, Mac OS X (10.5.2)
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