February 21st, 2011
In this brief guide we will walk through a very common request in the repair department at Powerbook Medic-how to replace the trackpad on the unibody MacBook Pro. This guide is applicable to the 13, 15, and 17 inch models, however, with the 15, and 17 inch models, you will have three battery screws to remove, as opposed to the 2 described in this guide.
The first thing you will need to do is to determine what tools you will need. On most of the early Unibody models, the battery is held in place with a tri-wing screwdriver, which you can locate here:
If you have a later model Unibody (mid-2009 and later), you will likely need the specialized 5-point torx screwdriver, which we offer here:
If you are unsure of which type of screwdriver you would need, you can simply use the other recommended tool, a Phillips #00, which will allow you to remove the bottom pan from your machine, and then check on the appropriate tool. On the early Unibody models, you will see that there is a battery latch which can be lifted to remove the battery cover. Once this is removed you will see four polished screws along the hinge edge of the bottom pan, and then 4 additional smaller screws under the lip of where the bottom pan sits. You will need to remove the bottom pan screws, keeping note that three of the polished screws will be longer than the other one, and the smaller screws go in the lip of the bottom pan. If you are working on a later model Unibody machine, you will see that there is no battery bay, but rather 10 polished screws along the edge of the bottom pan. Seven of these will be 3mm screws, and then three of the screws will be longer (14mm) screws, which will sit along the hinge edge of the bottom pan. You can locate where they belong on our take-apart guides on our website.
Once the screws are removed, you can lift the bottom pan up, and you will see your logic board, and the battery. If your machine has a battery bay, you can simply lift the battery out of socket and move on to the following paragraph. If you do not, please proceed. There should be two visible battery screws which will either be the tri-wing, or 5-point screws. There may be a third screw under the black warning sticker on the left side of the battery. You will need to remove each of those screws, and then lift the battery connector out of it’s socket. You can then proceed to lift the battery out of the way.
Now that the battery is removed, you can clearly see the trackpad assembly. If you are having issues with the trackpad clicking, you may be able to use either a Tri-Wing, or a Torx T-6 screw driver to loosen the small screw directly under the “click area” of the trackpad. In many instances, this will remedy a non-clicking trackpad. WARNING: Be very careful when adjusting this screw, as it is roughly 1mm in length, and will easily fall out of the socket in which it is mounted. If you suffer from a cracked trackpad, or a completely non-functioning trackpad, you will likely need to replace the trackpad altogether. There are links at the bottom of this post to the trackpads available from PowerbookMedic.com. The first thing you will need to do is trace the cable that runs from the trackpad to the Logic Board, and gently lift it up. You should then see two aluminum oval-shaped bars on the upper section of the trackpad, with a total of eight black phillips head screws in them. With the replacement kit, you may wish to replace the entire assembly- that is, the screws the two bars, the cable, and the trackpad, or you may wish to try replacing the trackpad itself. If you want to save the bars that are already in place, simply remove the two outer screws on each bar, and then gently lift the machine up. You should see that your trackpad will fall out of place, and the lower section of the trackpad can be removed. You can then take the cable that is with the new trackpad, and gently feed it up into it’s socket, and attach it, and then mount the trackpad in the appropriate manner. You may need to disconnect the trackpad cable to more easily put the cable in place. In order to do this, you will simply lift up on the LIF-socket bar on the trackpad, and gently lift up on the cable to loosen it from the adhesive holding the cable in place. You will reconnect the cable in the opposite manner in which you removed it. Once you replace the trackpad, secure it with the small black phillips screws, and then proceed with reconnecting and securing the battery, and finally, replacing the bottom pan. If this is a repair that appears to be beyond your comfort zone, you can always schedule a repair at PowerbookMedic by following this link here: schedule a repair
For replacement trackpads:
13″ MacBook and MacBook Pro UniBody:
15″ MacBook Pro Unibody:
17″ MacBook Pro Unibody: