Model A1297 Unibody: Early 2009, Mid 2009, Mid 2010, Early 2011 & Late 2011

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Can't install OS - keyboard/trackpad issues

Hi all,

Although I check this site often, this is the first time I haven't just found the answer to my problem with a search. I've got a bit of a story to tell on this machine.

My partner had a 17" Unibody MacBook Pro (4-core i7 2.66, Mid-2010. Current RAM 16 GB, I've tried both a 1TB Western Digital Blue HDD and a 500 GB Samsung 840 EVO SSD with the same results). A few months back, he spilled liquid in it and it became inoperable. It appeared clear that it needed a new keyboard.

Once I installed the new keyboard, the trackpad had no response. So I also installed a new trackpad. Neither the trackpad nor the keyboard seem to respond, except that holding down "alt" while booting does give me the drive selection menu, and that the power button is responding.

I have tried resetting the SMC and non-volitile RAM, but that does not seem to have any effect. Still no response from either keyboard or mouse.

So, after all of that, I decided that I was fine using this as my home server - with a USB keyboard and mouse.

With a USB keyboard and mouse, the machine boots to the Yosemite installer (on a flash drive.) I am able to run Disk Utility and format or partition the SSD. After re-formatting, I was able to start the Yosemite installer. After about 20 minutes or so, the installer re-boots - back to the Yosemite Installer. With no indication that it did a thing to my SSD.

I also tried the same thing with a spinning HDD that I had in the drawer with the same results.

Any suggestions to get this machine working again? I'd love to have keyboard and trackpad working again as well, but if I could get it working even as a desktop, I would love to have it back up and running. I'm on a student budget, and this was by far our fastest machine. I hate to see it lingering on the repair shelf...

Edit: Pic of ribbon cable area, as requested.

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First lets see if we can double check what your model is. Can you give us the last four digits of your systems serial number so we can correctly ID your system.


Just wanted to add the following information:

The computer must be seeing the keyboard on some level, because the following works without a USB connection:

Power button

Holding "Alt" to choose boot drive

Selecting boot drive using arrow keys.

Hitting return to boot.

Once an installer boots, I cannot get any function from the keyboard.

I don't know how to get a serial number for you when I can't boot the machine - there is no "about this Mac" display in the installer.


And the minute I posted that, I realized that "duh, the serial is inside the machine." Last 4: DD6Y


Please note that, while I found the first two answers helpful in ruling out root causes, this issue is still not solved. Any additional suggestions are welcome.


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2 Answers

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From what it sounds like you have a few problems here.

You stated you replaced the keyboard & trackpad but the new units aren't working. So lets start there:

  • Often I find the ribbon cables are not fully seated or the cable clamp is not set. But before I can help you here we really need a good picture of the connectors and the ribbon cables for the keyboard & trackpad. It's also possible you got the wrong keyboard as Apple had a few different units (as well as different language support). Are you sure you got the correct one? That doesn't explain why the trackpad is not working though.

You stated you were able to run the OS installer but unable to boot up under the SSD or HD. This could be because the model you have doesn't support Yosemite. What is the OS on the USB drive you are booting up from? Is it possible it is older?

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Thank you for your help.

You asked quite a few questions there, so here goes:

1) This model supports Yosemite. Definitely. Not a question. I have a pre-unibody 17" running Yosemite, and this is a much newer system. It was running either Mavericks or Yosemite when it was broken, but it has been down long enough for me not to be certain.

2) I am booting from a Yosemite installer boot drive, running version 10.10.2 and 10.10.3. I have not yet updated my install drive to 10.10.4.

4) How, exactly, am I to determine if I got the wrong keyboard? It was a keyboard for a 17" Unibody Macbook Pro. It fit. It's an English-layout keyboard that looks identical to my other Mac keyboards. Is there a way to determine which keyboard it is?

3) I have tried re-setting the cables on the keyboards about 10 times. I tried that long before I started searching here.


I also added the pic of the ribbon cable area you requested.


See my update to Chris's suggestion. I tried re-installing with the keyboard and trackpad disconnected, to the same result. This seems to rule out the wrong keyboard being the culprit.


Since you are able to boot up under the USB drive, follow this Apple TN on checking the systems firmware making sure you have the latest: About EFI and SMC firmware updates for Intel-based Mac computers


As for the different keyboards if I understand correctly the layout was the same so that rules out language, before you swapped them did you check the P/N's thats the only way I know of as some of the keyboards look very similar physically.


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are you doing this with the keyboard and tracpad unhooked?

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I have tried re-installing both with the trackpad disconnected and without. Cannot install with the keyboard disconnected because the power button is part of the keyboard.


You can bridge the power pads to boot the computer without the keyboard plugged in.


Not sure why you are going down the power pad direction here as he stated he was able to start the system from the power button.


Because Ive had macbooks that would boot from the keyboard and work fine for a while then shut the computer off then back on.

Once I removed the keyboard the computer ran fine. i installed the OS and replaced the keyboard after.


How would I "jump the power pads?"


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