When all else failed, this process restored the haptic feedback in my Apple Magic Trackpad.
Resolution Steps That Worked
These steps assume you have an Apple Mac computer and a working mouse or trackpad to complete the process. You will also need to have or borrow another Apple device to pair the Trackpad.
- Go to Bluetooth Preferences
- Right click on your Trackpad listed under Devices and choose Remove.
- Using another Apple device, pair your Trackpad to the second device. I used an iPad Pro for this step.
- The haptics should begin working again.
- Go to Settings > Bluetooth > and from the list tap the device and choose to Forget it. This will unpair the Trackpad.
- Pair the Trackpad to your computer.
- The haptics should still be working.
Everything Else That Didn’t Work
Here are some of the steps I tried on my Mac mini to fix this problem that didn’t work, but might work for someone else.
- CHARGE — Make sure the Trackpad is charged.
- OFF / ON — Turn the Trackpad off and then back on.
- UNPAIR — Unpair the Trackpad and then pair it again.
- FORCE CLICK — Turning Force Click off and on didn’t solve this issue for me, but it may help in your case. In System Preferences under Trackpad there is a setting to enable and disable the Force Click option. Force click is the feature where you press down on the Trackpad and feel the initial haptic response, then you push a little harder and you feel a second haptic response. This is similar to the iPhone’s old 3D Touch option. It is intended to bring up a secondary action. For Mac computers if you are pointing at a word and use Force Click, a lookup for that word will be performed if available in the application.
- SILENT CLICK — The Silent Click feature softens the haptic feedback clicking sound. The difference is very subtle. The sound becomes a bit muffled and less of a click sound. It’s like the difference between tapping a pencil edge lightly on a desk compared to tapping a pencil eraser lightly on a desk. Turning this feature on and off did not solve the failing haptic feedback issue for me, but it may help in your situation.
- REBOOT — Restarting the computer may help in your situation. In my situation, I fixed the issue without rebooting.
Here are some insights into the issue that can help guide a resolution.
One of the first things I did in trying to fix this issue was to unpair the Trackpad. At that point, without it paired to my Mac, it was still not providing any haptic feedback. I previously noticed that unpaired Magic Trackpad devices with haptic feedback will provide that feedback even when not paired to any device.
If you’ve been around Magic Trackpads for a while, you know that when the power is turned off on a Magic Trackpad, the haptic feedback is not present. This is initially an odd feeling since one assumes the clicking sound and movement are physical. They are so realistic. This power on/off experience enabling and disabling haptic feedback helps a person realizes that they are completely generated electronically.
If the haptics do not work even when not paired, but the Trackpad is on and has an adequate charge, then it becomes clear that the Trackpad is in a problematic operational state. Nothing you do with your computer settings will change the state of an unpaired (forgotten/removed) device. It’s a problem isolated to the Magic Trackpad itself.
This is what got me to try pairing to my old first generation iPad Pro — to see if pairing with a different device would help reset the configuration state. To my surprise and delight, it worked to reset the Magic Trackpad, and the haptic feedback was working again.
Then, when connected back to my Mac mini, it continued working. So, the problem was solved.
Because I’ve been updating regularly to the latest macOS 11 Big Sur releases, I thought that possibly a recent update may have caused a problem, but that apparently was not related. When diagnosing computer problems, it’s important to not assume that any recent change in a computer caused a subsequent operational issue. [See Correlation Theory]