How To Disable the Trackpad on a MacBook when Using a Mouse

If you use your MacBook as a desktop replacement, the trackpad can get tiresome to use, depending on your type of keyboard and how the MacBook sits on your desk. But for most people, the desire to use a mouse is due to trackpad malfunctions. In any scenario, the trackpad is convenient for when you’re on the road, but use it at home, and a mouse will soon prove its worth. You can set macOS 11 Big Sur to disable the MacBook trackpad when using a mouse automatically. Here’s how.

How To Disable the Trackpad on a MacBook when Using a Mouse

You should only need to do this once as we configure Mac OS 11 to disable the trackpad every time it detects a mouse. Once set, the auto-adjustment works the same for both wired and wireless mice. This article also shows you how to reverse it, just in case you prefer working that way.

Disable MacBook Trackpad when Using a Mouse

Until something better comes along, a mouse is the best way to control any computer over the long term. Spend a few hours on your MacBook, and the trackpad can become very tiresome to use. Most of the time, a good Apple mouse is comfortable for more extended periods.

To disable the MacBook trackpad when using a mouse, follow the steps below.

  1. Select the “Apple logo” (Main Menu) in the top left and then click on “System Preferences.”
  2. Select “Accessibility.”
  3. Click on the “Pointer Control” menu item on the left.
  4. Check the box next to “Ignore built-in trackpad when mouse or wireless trackpad is present.”

Now, when you connect a mouse to your MacBook, macOS 11 will automatically disable the trackpad until you remove the mouse. Why this setting isn’t under mouse or trackpad remains unknown, but the procedures required still get the job done.

Reverse the MacBook Trackpad

Ever since ‘Natural Scrolling’ got introduced in the days of ‘Mountain Lion,’ Mac users have had to reverse the trackpad. Some use both Apple and Windows. Leaving Natural Scrolling enabled means that you have to switch the OS in your brain and scroll in a different direction. Apple-only users may not have an issue, but IT techs and frequent users do.

Fortunately, you can reverse the Mac setting, so it works a little more like Windows and Linux. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Select the “Apple logo” (Main Menu) in the top left and then “System Preferences.”
  2. Click on “Trackpad.”
  3. Select the “Scroll & Zoom” tab, then uncheck the box next to “Scroll direction: Natural” at the top of the window.

Now, when you scroll down on the trackpad, the screen scrolls up. Scroll up on the pad, and the screen scrolls down. Instead of sliding up and down based on the page’s position, you’re sliding the page based on the scroll bar. In other words, you move the screen based on the scroll slider, not the page position. This reversal reflects Windows and Linux movements to help reduce confusion between operating systems. Scroll up; the slider moves up. Scroll down; the slider moves down.

Enable Mouse Keys

Another macOS feature is called Mouse Keys. The ability to move your cursor with the number pad or keyboard without using the trackpad. This feature is a great backup option if you’re unable to use your trackpad.

  1. Select the “Apple logo” (Main Menu) in the top left and then “System Preferences.”
  2. Select “Accessability.”
  3. Click on “Pointer Control.”
  4. Click on the “Alternate Control Metods” tab, then click the box at the top labeled “Enable Mouse Keys.”
  5. Optional: You can click the “Options” button next to “Enable Mouse Keys” to manage the feature and customize it to meet your needs.
  6. Optional: When completing “Step 5” above, your keyboard may or may not work for text. To quickly turn the function off, press “Option + Command + F5” on the keyboard. You’ll get a screen where you can unclick “Mouse Keys.”

If you need to disable the MacBook trackpad, you now know what to do. Got any other trackpad tips or tricks we should know?

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