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How to disable the trackpad when a mouse is connected on macOS

The trackpad on Macbooks is really great. You’d be hard put to find a trackpad as good on PC models but Apple also has a great mouse that a lot of people love to use even if they have a Macbook. Macbooks aren’t restricted to working with just Apple’s own mouse. You can connect any mouse with it if you prefer a different make and model. Normally, when you connect a mouse to a Macbook, the trackpad continues to work. If this is a problem, you can disable the trackpad when a mouse is connected.

Disable trackpad when using mouse

You won’t find this setting under the Mouse or Trackpad preference. Instead, what you need to do is go to the Accessibility preference in the System Preferences app.

Under Accessibility, scroll through the column on the left and look for Mouse & Trackpad. Select it and you will see an option on the right called ‘Ignore built-in trackpad when mouse or wireless trackpad is present’. Enable it and when you connect either a mouse or an external trackpad, the built-in trackpad on your Macbook will not work.

This works if you’re using a wireless mouse like the Apple mouse or you’re using one that requires you connect it via a dongle. A mouse like that is normally used with Windows systems but that doesn’t mean it won’t work with a Macbook.

Any time you disconnect a mouse, whether it’s by disconnecting the dongle for it, or disconnecting or unpairing it, the trackpad will automatically start working again. This setting, while meant for ease of access, is useful if you often accidentally end up grazing the trackpad on your Macbook when you don’t intend to use it.

Keyboard

This setting doesn’t apply to the keyboard and nothing like it exists if you use an external keyboard with your Macbook. You’re free to connect either Apple’s keyboard with a Macbook but the keyboard on it will continue to work.

If you need something similar for the keyboard, give the appĀ Karabiner a try. It’s kind of complex but that has to do with the fact that it does a lot however, if you take the time to read the app’s documentation, you’ll find you can use it to disable the internal keyboard when an external one is connected to your Macbook. All you need to do is connect the external keyboard that you want to use, launch the app, and go to the Devices tab. There, select which device you want to disconnect when the other is connected.

There’s a similar setting on Windows 10 if you need it.

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