Problem: Your keyboard or mouse (or trackpad) won’t respond to the gentle taps of your fingers, leaving you powerless to interact with your beloved computer.
Solution: Press your fingers even harder. When that doesn’t work, use this guide to get your mouse or keyboard up and working. While software troubleshooting is considered starting in step #9, please note that software (meaning your Mac OS X operating system) is almost never at fault when it comes to just getting the mouse and keyboard to work. If none of these tips works, consider talking with Apple or your peripheral’s manufacturer before reinstalling Mac OS X.
- Disconnect your mouse or keyboard from any USB hub (whether self-powered or wall-powered). While it should be possible to use mice and keyboards from hubs, this often fails in practice. They really need to be plugged into the computer (though you can plug a mouse into the keyboard except when troubleshooting).
- Verify whether System Information recognizes your device on one of the USB buses. If it does, skip to step #9. Otherwise, continue.
- Connect your mouse or keyboard to each USB port on your computer to test whether any of the ports recognize the device.
- If none of your USB ports recognizes the mouse/keyboard, restart your computer and try step #2 again.
- Do you have another computer to plug the mouse or keyboard into? If you do, try that. A second computer that fails to recognize your mouse or keyboard nearly guarantees that the peripheral is faulty and needs repair. If the second computer does recognize the peripheral (or if you do not have a second computer to test with), read on.
- Does your computer recognize one of the two devices (mouse or keyboard)? If it does, the unrecognized device is likely faulty, and you should contact your manufacturer to see if a repair is necessary.
- If your computer fails to recognize both your mouse and keyboard, do you know whether it is currently recognizing any other USB device? If it is, you can assume the USB ports on your computer are working and that your mouse and keyboard have failed. This should probably not be the case, however: it is very rare to see a mouse and keyboard fail at exactly the same time. On the other hand, if your computer is not recognizing any other device, the fault may lie with the USB ports on your computer.
- At this point, you are running out of options to test your hardware. Unless you have a different computer to connect your mouse and keyboard to, or a different mouse and keyboard to connect to your computer, you have no way of eliminating one set of hardware from failing. You need to either take your computer to an Apple Store or your mouse or keyboard to the manufacturer to verify if one is faulty.
- If System Information does recognize your device, but it is not working at all, either hardware or software may be in play. Try using a different USB port and restarting your computer.
- If your mouse or keyboard still does not function, you can try logging into another user account (assuming your keyboard works). This is unlikely to solve the problem (but if it does, your original account is the problem).
- Finally, you can try booting from your restore DVD. To do this, place the disc in your DVD drive, restart the computer, and immediately hold down the “C” key (holding until the Apple logo appears). If your computer boots up from your disc, you know your keyboard works (as it would have booted from your hard drive if it could not recognize that you held the “C” key down on your keyboard). If you have been able to boot to the disc installer rather than your Desktop, try moving the mouse. If you can, you know the mouse works as well.
- If your previously non-functioning device works when you boot from the restore DVD, you have a software problem. If the device still does not work, you have a hardware problem and need help from the manufacturer. You may be able to solve the software problem by reinstalling the operating system.
To restart your computer without a functioning mouse, you can simply tap the power button on laptops. This brings up a window allowing you to shutdown the computer (by pressing return), restart (by pressing the letter “r”), sleep (by pressing the letter “s”), or cancel (by pressing escape). On iMacs and Mac Pros, instead of pressing the power button, hold down the Control key and press the Eject button on your keyboard.
Did these tips work for you? How else have you been able to overcome a non-responsive mouse or keyboard? Let others know in the comments.
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