My cat has a nasty habit of jumping over my MBP and causing keystrokes that mess up things (anywhere from stopping a playing video to deleting a file).

I'm looking for some utility or hack to disable completely the internal keyboard and to re-enable it either using the mouse or using some key combination.

Any ideas how to achieve this?

  • 1
    I had a cat jump on my MBP once, except it got spooked and tore keys off the keyboard in the leap off the keyboard. Good question though.
    – Troggy
    Sep 7, 2010 at 21:35
  • 1
    Same issue with a cat here! And he's far too cute for me to get any upset about it ^^
    – Adriano
    Nov 27, 2015 at 17:55
  • 1
    While not a solution to your specific problem, Karabiner (pqrs.org/osx/karabiner) let me disable my internal keyboard when my external keyboard is connected. This lets me plop my external keyboard right over the internal keyboard of my Macbook.
    – kas
    Aug 25, 2018 at 23:37
  • @kas is this safe? Won't the developer be able to log key strokes?
    – Guided33
    Mar 30, 2020 at 22:12
  • @Guided33 whether or not it's safe is up to you, the source code appears to be available in GitHub.
    – kas
    Nov 1, 2020 at 19:49

8 Answers 8


Karabiner-Elements is open source software with powerful keyboard customizations, including the ability to disable the internal keyboard when an external one is connected.


I've got a 2018 MBP with the horrible keyboard which has started to fail in so many wonderful ways now. I have a cheapo bluetooth keyboard I just set right on top of the internal keyboard, and using Karabiner-Elements allows me to disable it so that the pressure from the keyboard above doesn't trigger unwanted key strokes.


  • Jeff, does this also work for the login screen upon reboot? My old 2010 17" MBP has a weird issue with the keyboard where it's randomly sending the character "9", and the 9 key itself doesn't actually work. Using the built-in keyboard it's impossible to login for this reason. The login does work with the external keyboard, but as the built-in keyboard deteriorates further, I need to completely have it disabled even after a reboot when getting the login screen. Does this utility do that as well? Thanks -- Erik Jan 14, 2020 at 3:04
  • @ErikvanderNeut yes I use my external keyboard to login. I cannot use the internal keyboard to login either because the keys send duplicates sometimes and sometimes not at all. although I don't think this has anything to do with Karabiner because I believe my external keyboard works for login without it. I just need Karabiner to disable the internal keyboard. Jan 14, 2020 at 17:07
  • Jeff, yes, the external keyboard works for login by default (w/o any special tools) also for me, like I described. The problem I'm having however is that the built-in keyboard is sending out random "9" characters more and more, even when you don't touch it. Therefore, I need to be able to completely and permanently disable it, even before I am logged in, because as I am typing my login password on the external keyboard, the internal keyboard is increasingly likely to inject unwanted characters at the same time :-( Maybe I should open the Mac up and physically unplug the internal keyboard. Jan 15, 2020 at 22:36
  • Is this safe to use? Is anyone worried about the developer possibly logging your keystrokes and other malicious activities?
    – Guided33
    Mar 30, 2020 at 22:14
  • 1
    @Guided33 it is open source, so it's audit-able by anyone. Sep 20, 2020 at 20:34

Just tried this on my 2013 MBP with 10.8.5:

The external keyboard still works fine, and I was able to disable, then reenable my internal keyboard.

To disable the internal keyboard of a portable Mac:

sudo kextunload /System/Library/Extensions/AppleUSBTopCase.kext/Contents/PlugIns/AppleUSBTCKeyboard.kext/ The internal keyboard is then disabled, external keyboards will still work.

To re-enable the internal keyboard of a portable Mac:

sudo kextload /System/Library/Extensions/AppleUSBTopCase.kext/Contents/PlugIns/AppleUSBTCKeyboard.kext/

When I initially disable the internal keyboard, terminal notifies me that:

(kernel) Can't unload kext com.apple.driver.AppleUSBTCKeyboard; classes have instances:
(kernel)     Kext com.apple.driver.AppleUSBTCKeyboard class AppleUSBTCKeyboard has 11 instances.
Failed to unload com.apple.driver.AppleUSBTCKeyboard - (libkern/kext) kext is in use or retained (cannot unload).

Nevertheless, the command works, no ill effects.

Thanks to: macrumours

  • confirmed this works on 2009 white macbook running 10.8.5 and I haven't noticed any side-effects. Works like a charm. awesome. May 22, 2014 at 23:54
  • Works on MBP(Mid 2014) running 10.10.3
    – Samveen
    Jun 15, 2015 at 12:49
  • 1
    doesnt work on 10.10.5
    – Srneczek
    Nov 1, 2015 at 21:54
  • Works on MBP(late 2011) running 10.9.5 Jan 4, 2017 at 15:13
  • 3
    Did not work on a 2015 MacBook Pro Retina running macOS High Sierra 10.13.6.
    – kas
    Aug 25, 2018 at 23:18

There are a couple 3rd party programs that do similar things.. or just get a stand that will put your MBP at an angle so the cat doesn't jump on it..


edit: you can also try Keyboard Cleaner

  • 2
    Keyboard cleaner is nice and simple. you have cmd-q to close it and get your keyboard back. Mouse clicks won’t register. Sep 8, 2010 at 1:25
  • Lockey seems to be possibly dodgy / scam (as in not trustable in terms of your personal/payment info, scam). The website links to a different domain advertising a new version that works with mavericks and you can only pay by credit card and no trial download and the whole thing just looks dodgy. A shame as it's the only non-terminal solution I could find...
    – user78017
    Jun 26, 2014 at 2:16
  • 1
    Keyboard cleaner locks all keyboards not just the intenral one.
    – Srneczek
    Nov 1, 2015 at 21:53
  • Just for the record to those that are down-voting my answer: This question/answer is over 5 years old and software and fixes that worked then are likely very different today.
    – Rex
    Nov 16, 2015 at 14:45
  • Keyboard Cleaner emits the macOS System error "funk" sound upon keypresses, which could be annoying to users.
    – 2540625
    Mar 30, 2019 at 19:32

Mouse keys could actually solve your problem without any apps. It's a built-in OS X accessibility option (can be turned on and off). Basically, when you press the Option key 5 times, it's enabled (or disabled in the same way) and then you can only use like 6 to 8 keys on the keyboard to control the mouse - other keys and touchpad are disabled - so if your cat doesn't hit 1 or 2 keys (left and right mouse clicks), you are fine.

It is not 100% solution but could work in 80-90% cases. I am using it when I put my ergonomic keyboard on top of the MacBook Pro keyboard. Wonder when (and if) will ergonomic keyboards come to notebooks, to be honest. Soon, there will be world fulled with blind programmers with RSI or carpal tunnels in their wrists.

My actual version is El Capitan 10.11.1, but I think it worked on 10.10.5 which I had few weeks ago.

  • Does Not disable other keyboard keys in Mouse Keys mode in macOS 12.3.1. Apr 10, 2022 at 20:16

There's a excellent free app that does exactly that. It's called KeyboardCleanTool, and it's made by the same guy who made BetterSnapTool.

Unlike with Keyboard Cleaner, you can still use your computer as normal while your keyboard is disabled.

  • 1
    Please don't link directly to downloads. You should instead link to the product page. Also read How do I recommend software for some tips as to how you should go about recommending software. At the very least you should provide more than just a link, for example some additional information about the software itself.
    – DavidPostill
    Mar 22, 2015 at 6:15

Try the free software CatNip, which claims to detect cat-like typing and locks the keyboard in response.


You could put a password on your screen saver ("Require password [time] seconds after sleep or screen saver begins" in the "General" tab of the "Security" section of System Preferences, probably best to add a hot corner for quick activation). This will require you to enter your password whenever you return to your computer - unless your cat knows it, you'll be protected from any accidental input.

Unfortunately, this means you have to be not using your computer at that point. Other than using an external monitor and so on and closing the lid, I don't know of any built in way of disabling the keyboard.


Looks like all cats love to mess with MacBooks

This http://www.indiegogo.com/Mac-OS-X-Keyboard-Lock-Application-Lockey Should solve your problem

or try this http://jan.prima.de/~jan/plok/archives/48-Keyboard-Cleaner.html

PS: Are you the same user who asked this question over here http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1646187

  • 1
    The Indie Gogo link is dead.
    – 2540625
    Mar 30, 2019 at 19:23
  • Keyboard Cleaner emits the macOS System error "funk" sound upon keypresses, which could be annoying to users.
    – 2540625
    Mar 30, 2019 at 19:31

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .