Tips and Tricks for the MacBook Pro's Touch Bar

With the 2016 MacBook Pro, Apple introduced an all-new design that incorporates a Touch Bar, a small touch-sensitive OLED display that offers up contextual controls depending on what you're doing on your Mac.

Though the Touch Bar has been available, in our experience, many Mac owners don't take advantage of it, so in our latest YouTube video, we thought we'd share a few tips and tricks that might make the Touch Bar more appealing.

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Customize Your Control Bar


Most MacBook Pro owners are probably aware that this feature exists, but may not have delved into the customization options. Customizing the control strip is the best way to get the most out of the Touch Bar because you can choose the features you use most.

To get to the Control Strip settings, open up System Preferences, choose "Keyboard" and then select the "Customize Control Strip" option at the bottom of the window.


You can choose options like quick access to taking a screenshot, Night Shift, Do not Disturb, Screen Lock, Sleep, AirPlay, Spotlight, Mission Control, and more.

Set the Function Keys as Your Default


Want your function keys back as the default option? There's a setting for that. Like the Control Strip settings, it is located under Keyboard in System Preferences.

You can choose to have the Touch Bar display App Controls with Control Strip, which will change the available Touch Bar options with each app you use, or you can set it to display the function keys, an Expanded Control Strip, or just App Controls.


If you go to the "Shortcuts" section of the Keyboard settings and select Function Keys, you can also choose to have the function keys display on a per-app basis.

You can also customize the shortcut the Fn key brings up -- if you set the Touch Bar to function keys, the Fn key on the keyboard can be set to expand the Control Strip or show app controls. With the Control Strip set as the default, you can always bring up your function keys with the Fn key.

Take a Screenshot of Your Touch Bar


Though it's not obvious, there's a way to take a screenshot of the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro. Just hold down Shift + Command + 6 all at the same time, and the screenshot will be saved to your desktop.


Accessibility Options


There are several Accessibility-related options that can be enabled for the Touch Bar for those who need them, including VoiceOver, Zoom, and Switch Control to display the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro's screen.

To check out and enable Touch Bar Accessibility options, open up System Preferences and choose the "Accessibility" icon. VoiceOver controls for Touch Bar are enabled automatically when VoiceOver is turned on, while the other options are under "Zoom" and "Switch Control."

For more information, make sure to check out Apple's Accessibility support document for the Touch Bar.

Improve Touch Bar with Third-Party Apps


There are a few ways to make the Touch Bar more useful through third-party apps.

With Better Touch Tool, you can create your own shortcuts for the Touch Bar. The possibilities are extensive, ranging from tools to empty the trash on your Mac to accessing apps to seeing the time, date, and your battery level. Check out Reddit for some suggestions on how to use this tool.

Similarly, the TouchSwitcher app for the Touch Bar is designed to let you launch and switch between apps by adding a list of your most recently used apps to the Touch Bar.

Do you use the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro? What are your favorite use cases for the feature? Let us know in the comments.



Top Rated Comments

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4 weeks ago
Best tip would be: don't buy it, it's gimmick.
Rating: 16 Votes
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4 weeks ago
If only you could use it to mimic the keys that will inevitably be broken on your lousy keyboard .
Rating: 11 Votes
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4 weeks ago
Please kill the touch bar, Apple. Touch UI is a compromise... No keyboard or mouse for portability but less functional UI to accommodate the fatness and relative imprecision of your fingers. It's stupid on a device with keyboard and mouse as anything useful you could put on the TB is more useful on the main screen or as a keyboard shortcut.
Rating: 9 Votes
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4 weeks ago
Love my touch bar rMBP. All the haters here can *suck* it. :D
Rating: 8 Votes
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4 weeks ago
The touchbar is a giant waste of money. I never use it, and I get mad when I want to use the ***** esc key and it’s literally not there
Rating: 8 Votes
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4 weeks ago

Best tip would be: don't buy it, it's gimmick.

Agreed!

Why won’t Apple give us a touch screen on a MacBook Pro which would actually be useful? Not a silly bar which provides no tactile feedback, so means looking away from screen to use.
Rating: 6 Votes
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4 weeks ago

Do tell us how you use it, what apps do you use that utilize the touchbar.


I regularly use it in Xcode. There's a bunch of shortcut keys for debugging that you don't regularly use, but which at the same time are more convenient than using the mouse. The TouchBar shows these during debugging. Incredibly useful.

For Sketch, it's the same. I don't use it enough to let my memory hardcode the shortcut keys for the various shapes. The TouchBar simply displays them. Quite nice.

I think it's great however... I usually work docked. I'd really appreciate an external keyboard with TouchBar/TouchID.
Rating: 5 Votes
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4 weeks ago

Love my touch bar rMBP. All the haters here can *suck* it. :D

I agree. I am loving my touch bar. Easy to use. Sometimes you don’t need to type anymore. Maybe those haters don’t have it. Otherwise return it and don’t feel bitter about it.
Rating: 5 Votes
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4 weeks ago
I have both the toucbar and none-touchbar MacBook pros; I seriously got the non-touchbar version because I (still) don't find a reason to use the touchbar; really sad theres not a non-touchbar 15" pro; it would solve 1 of the 3 major issues I have with it; and only solve one of the 4 issues with the 13" pro.
Rating: 4 Votes
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4 weeks ago
I hate the touchbar. For my job the Escape button is one of the most used keys. My 2013 MBP died recently and work gave me a 15 inch 2017 MBP. I could choose the 13 inch with no touchbar, but like the extra screen space. I tried using the virtual escape key, but it just doesn't work well. I miss it all the time. Now i'm using a bluetooth keyboard. Please Apple give people the option of a 15 inch MBP without the touchbar!
Rating: 4 Votes
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