Sunday, October 28, 2012

Converting Macbook keyboard/touch pad into USB keyboard/touch pad

For those finding the title not overly helpful, this post is about adding a USB cable to a Macbook keyboard/touch pad for use with other computers.

The inspiration for this came about as I scoured the house for any trace of a USB keyboard, which led me to the Macbook featured in my previous post, creating a mini DVI to VGA adapter. A quick Google search led me to Cryozap, who had already done the heavy lifting with this project by finding the pinouts of the connector used by the keyboard, as seen in the post MacBook Core Duo Logic Board Keyboard Connector Pinout. Here is how I managed to attach a USB cable!

First thing you want to do is peel the sticker off the back of the touchpad.

Here's a closeup of the touchpad. The four pins we are going to be using are the three closest to the top right header, and one of the grounds on the centre far left.

For stress relief, you probably want to hold the cable onto the keyboard somehow. As I didn't intend on putting this back into the laptop I just used a bit of wire and "crimped" the USB cable to one of the places for a screw.

Here's the fun part. Solder down the wires, trying to minimise how much of the actual conductor is exposed. The ground (black) goes to any of the three vacant pads on the far left. Positive (red) is the rightmost pad, with data positive (green) the centre of the three, and data negative (white) the left of the three. See the picture below for clarification.

And there you have it, a cheap and dirty USB keyboard from a Macbook!

Hope this was helpful. Once again, credit for the pinout goes to Cryozap. Constructive criticism or general comments are welcomed below.


  1. i guarantee at least one other person tried this and succeeded, with your help. thanks for the info.

  2. Make it three!!!!! Thanks.. I wish in future someone can make a connector for trackpad wire to usb... that would be A+...

  3. Make it 11. Several MacBook top cases re-used as KB/mouse for Raspberry Pi's.
    Thanks, works awesomely fine!

  4. I cannt seam to get the touchpad to work in windows or raspberrypi. The keyboard works with no issues.... and help?

  5. You used a macbook a1181 third version keyboard. The schematics for the first version (macbook from early 2006) is quite different.
    This is the pinout that I found out with an electrical tester. I hope it could help!

  6. I just followed the pictures- I have never soldered Before Today, I followed the Pics and it worked perfectly. Working to convert My Trashed Motherboard Black Macbook from 2006 to A Rasberry Pi Enclosure. Step One Done- Thanks for sharing

  7. I am trying to do this project with a mid 2009 macbook air. Does anyone know the pinouts for the keyboard and touchpad controller board?

  8. Does anyone use a macbook LCD on a raspberry Pi? Would be a goal!!!

    1. I did that! You just have to find your macbook model and look for a shield with hdmi output (or/and VGA. Mine has both). You just wire up the two cables that come out of the screen and you're done! I ended up buying a chinese one from amazon for 70€ some years ago.

      Also, thanks for this tutorial. I'll try it as soon as I'm home. Can't wait O_O


  9. I’m writing to confirm that this mod works for non-multi-touch MBP top-cases as well. In fact I’m currently typing on / pointing with my modded unit. I had one such spare lying around that I had mis-purchased as a replacement for the multi-touch top-case of my 2008 MBP.

    As mentioned in other comments too; there are multiple trackpad control boards out there. I’ve found mods for three including the one in this post. Since I own a multi-touch MBP; I took a look at it’s control board and it is the one pictured in this mod:

    Personally; I’m missing both the multi-touch gestures and the additional scrolling effects - to me the macOS experience is incomplete in their absence. Since my usage scenario requires a wired connection; I’ve ordered a multi-touch top-case to mod. I intend to report back here if that mod checks out as well.

    Many thanks to Beau for sharing!

  10. please help, keyboard and track pad work if i connect it to a mac, but if i connect it to a raspberry pi, the keyboard only works not the track pad. Anyone know how to fix this???

  11. Thanks. Works a treat using the same one you have there.