Tips and Tricks for the MacBook Pro's Touch Bar

by

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.

Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos.

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

(View all)
Avatar
32 months ago
Best tip would be: don't buy it, it's gimmick.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
32 months ago
If only you could use it to mimic the keys that will inevitably be broken on your lousy keyboard .
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
32 months 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.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
32 months 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
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
32 months ago
Love my touch bar rMBP. All the haters here can *suck* it. :D
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
32 months 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.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

'A New iOS Update is Now Available' Popping Up Repeatedly in iOS 14 Beta [Fixed: New Beta Available]

Thursday October 29, 2020 6:11 pm PDT by
Many users running iOS 14 beta are reporting that they are seeing a dialog box pop up repeatedly asking them to update from the latest iOS 14 beta. Threads in our forums, Reddit, and Twitter are reporting the issue. The dialog has been appearing for a few days now, but as of tonight has started appearing more frequently, every time an iPhone is unlocked. There's been further discussion in...

First iPhone 12 Mini Hands-On Video Surfaces [Update: Video Pulled]

Wednesday October 28, 2020 1:21 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12 Pro Max aren't set to be available until November 13, but a Romanian YouTuber got his hands on the iPhone 12 mini and showed it off today, offering a size comparison between the iPhone 12 and the 12 mini along with going over some of the device's features. The iPhone 12 mini is identical to the iPhone 12 in design and functionality, but it has a...

Apple One is Now Available: Save Money by Bundling Apple Music, iCloud Storage, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and More

Friday October 30, 2020 7:47 am PDT by
Apple One bundles are now available in the United States and over 100 other countries, allowing customers to subscribe to multiple Apple services through a single plan, including Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, iCloud, and more. To sign up for Apple One on an iPhone: Open Settings App Tap on Your Name at the top Tap on Subscriptions Tap on Apple One The prompt for Apple One...

iPhone 12 Ceramic Shield Still 'Scratches at Level 6 With Deeper Grooves at Level 7' in Mohs Hardness Test

Wednesday October 28, 2020 7:10 am PDT by
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models feature a new Ceramic Shield front cover that is "tougher than any smartphone glass," according to Apple, but the displays on the devices still have similar scratch resistance as previous iPhones based on a new test. Zack Nelson today shared his much-anticipated iPhone 12 Pro durability test on his YouTube channel JerryRigEverything, and based on the Mohs...

Apple CEO Tim Cook: 'More Exciting Things' in Store For This Year

Thursday October 29, 2020 2:20 pm PDT by
During today's earnings call for the fourth fiscal quarter of 2020 (third calendar quarter), Cook said that while he doesn't want to give too much away, "this year has a few more exciting things in store." Cook is likely speaking about the Apple Silicon Macs, as Apple has previously said the first Apple Silicon Mac will be coming before the end of 2020. There are rumors of a third fall event ...

2020 iPad Air vs. iPad Pro: Hands-On Comparison

Tuesday October 27, 2020 3:03 pm PDT by
Apple announced the new 2020 fourth-generation iPad Air in September, but the new tablets just started shipping out to customers last Friday. We picked one up and thought we'd do a hands-on comparison with the iPad Pro, which was last updated in March, because both tablets are about as powerful and share many similarities. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design and ...

After Mocking Apple, Samsung May Remove Power Adapter From Galaxy S21 Box

Tuesday October 27, 2020 4:29 pm PDT by
Samsung's Galaxy S21, coming in 2021, may not include a power adapter or headphones in the box, according to reports from Korean media sites highlighted by SamMobile. Rumors earlier this year also said that Samsung was considering removing these accessories from future smartphone models, but that didn't stop Samsung from mocking Apple for selling the iPhone 12 models without a power adapter...

Apple Releases First macOS Big Sur 11.0.1 Beta to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Wednesday October 28, 2020 10:15 am PDT by
Apple today seeded a new macOS Big Sur 11.0.1 beta to developers for testing purposes, with the new beta replacing the existing macOS Big Sur 11 beta 10 update that was released two weeks ago. The macOS Big Sur beta can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center and once the appropriate profile is installed, subsequent betas will be available through the Software Update mechanism in...

Apple One Service Bundles Set to Launch Tomorrow, Fitness+ Coming This Quarter

Thursday October 29, 2020 1:39 pm PDT by
Apple in September announced Apple One, a new series of services bundles that will let Apple device customers purchase several services together in one package instead of separately, saving money for those who use multiple Apple service products. Ahead of Apple's earnings call, Apple CFO Luca Maestri told Bloomberg that Apple One is set to launch on Friday, October 30. Apple One Bundle...

PSA: Apple One Premier Bundle Only Available in US, UK, Canada, and Australia

Friday October 30, 2020 2:39 am PDT by
Apple's new Apple One series of services bundles launches on Friday in over 100 countries and regions, but the top Premier tier will be limited to the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. The limited rollout of the $29.95 Premier tier is down to the fact that Apple News+ is currently only available in the above countries. Apple News+ is exclusive to the Premier tier,...