Earlier this week, my MacBook (which runs OSX and is about 2 1/2 years old) went on the fritz. As I typed, my cursor began to fly all over the screen, highlighting sections of text and deleting them seemingly at random. The problem came and went seemingly without reason. For a few hours, it would be fine. Then, all of a sudden, my cursor would start flying all over the screen, and after I had managed to type only a couple of words, the text would get highlighted and then be deleted. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t seem to fix the problem, and while I saw a number of forum posts that outlined similar occurences, there were almost no solutions presented. After struggling with the problem for a couple of days, I finally found a fix that worked for me. This “phantom cursor” issue can have a couple of causes, so I’ll run down several different methods to fix the problem.
1. Adjust your trackpad settings. Go into System Preferences, Trackpad, and then de-select the box for Trackpad Gestures. While you’re in there, check “Ignore accidental trackpad input”. This may solve the problem for you.
2. Attach a mouse. Make sure that you have checked the box under System Preferences, Trackpad for “Ignore Trackpad When Mouse is Present”. Then attach the mouse, which will effectively negate the trackpad’s tendency to cause the phantom cursor issue.
3. Reset the PRAM. This is basically a Mac cure-all that may or may not work for you, depending on what has caused your phantom trackpad issues. First, shut down your computer. Then, unplug it, remove the battery, and then hold down the power button for ten seconds. Replace the battery and the power cord. Turn the computer back on and immediately hold down the following keys: Option, Command, P, R. Hold these keys down until your computer chimes for the second time, then release.
4. Scan for trojans and spyware. One great program is MacScan, which can be downloaded and used free for 30 days before you have to pay for it. The program will take an hour or so to run the first time (depending on how many files you have on your computer) and will then isolate and delete any tracking cookies, trojans, or spyware that it encounters. You can download it here: http://macscan.securemac.com/
5. Examine the trackpad. In my case, it turned out that the problem was a physical one, rather than a technical one. My trackpad “clickers” had become almost imperceptibly semi-depressed, which was what was causing my cursor to select, delete, and move sections of text seemingly at random. (I guess either I type forcefully or it had just gotten worn down over time.) To fix it, my roommate removed my battery and VERY GENTLY flexed the entire computer, and then placed slight pressure in the battery housing just beneath the trackpad, which popped the clicker back into place.
Hope these tips solved your problem and saved you the trouble of taking your computer in for servicing!