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The larger of Apple's MacBook Air laptops featuring dual microphones and 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity.

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Keyboard and trackpad not working after login (upper case replacement)

Some keys on the keyboard stopped working recently so I decided to replace the upper case with a new one that had a keyboard.

I am able to use both the keyboard and trackpad during login (click on my profile and enter my password) but one it loads, it stops working. I can plug in an external keyboard and mouse and that works without an issue.

I then thought I would reinstall the OS but I can't enter recovery mode either using the external or internal keyboard. I tried to reset the SMC and reset PRAM/NVRAM but nothing changes. Interestingly, I can enter Safe Mode by holding shift during start up but non of the recovering modes seem to work.

The keyboard seems to work as I can type in my password during login so I don't think they sent me a faulty one. The trackpad was working before and again works during login but not after.

I can try and replace the trackpad flex cable in case it got damaged during the upper case replacement but as it works pre login I'm not sure that's the issue. Would also be grateful for advice on how to reinstall the OS without being able to enter recovery mode.

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At first I was thinking you knocked or disconnected the trackpad cable at the logic board which is a dual function cable! Both the keyboard and trackpad data runs down it.

You also stated an external set wouldn’t work and your system is responding as the system does turn on and the display works if I follow your thoughts.

So that only leaves one possibility you switched keyboard to a different layout or language. You see the trackpad logic is also the keyboards logic in this series. Did you note the ribbon cable lines from the keyboard to the trackpad is not added to the smaller trackpad cable leading to the logic board. This logic within the trackpad is confused as you changed things on it, even if you hadn’t the keyboard also comes from different suppliers to Apple and can require different trackpad logic as well!

So… Is the keyboard layout British Vs American keyboards And the key markings the same between the two keyboards?

Then carefully lifting one key of each is the key mechanism the same referencing this image MacBook Air keys (type J & K keys)?

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Thanks for the suggestions Dan! The keyboard layout for both the old and the new are British and the have the same key mechanism. The keyboard works to type in my password and so does the trackpad.

I've had a look at the trackpad cable and there seems to be a bit of wear so I've ordered a new one but there seems to be at least some functionality because I can log in normally.

Something seems to happen when I log in that stops the trackpad and keyboard from working. I also can't enter recovery mode or internet recovery mode to wipe and reinstall Big Sur.

I'll try and switch it back to the old faulty keyboard and upper case tomorrow to see if that changes anything but any more advice would be very much appreciated!


@sascha14272 - The keyboard has two phases, the first is for startup commands then during the OS loads it jumps to the more advanced mode.

At this point it’s hard to tell you anything more as you need the external USB connected keyboard to enter into diagnostics.

If the cable is damaged that is a good possibility as missing a line can cause issues.


@danj Thank you! I've switched it back to the old upper case and keyboard and the problem persist so I have ordered a new flex cable and will update if that fixes the problem.


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