When Apple first introduced the Touch Bar on its Macs in 2016, the company touted the adaptive app-specific features of the OLED strip and framed it as an improvement over the traditional function keys that it replaced.

macbookprotouchbar
What it didn't expect was the number of users who mourned the physical Escape key, which many relied on to exit out of various app modes (like fullscreen, for example). While the Touch Bar offers a virtual Escape key, it's located in a different place, and depending on the app in use, isn't even always visible.

touch bar esc key
Fortunately Apple listened to the criticism, and all new Macs with the scissor switch Magic Keyboard also feature a physical Escape key, along with Touch Bar and Touch ID.

If you're the owner of an earlier Touch Bar-equipped Mac model that lacks the physical Escape key, here are a couple of things you can do to get the functionality back.

Bring Back the Function Row on the Touch Bar

As mentioned, the Escape key isn't entirely gone on a Touch Bar Mac, but if the Touch Bar is in another mode, it's not always accessible. One solution is to hold down the fn key on the bottom left of the keyboard layout. This will make the original row of function keys appear on the Touch Bar – including the Escape key.

Remap the Escape Key to Another Physical Key

If the above solution doesn't work for you, you can choose a physical key to act as an Escape key instead. Here's how it works.

  1. Launch System Preferences from your Mac's Dock, from the Applications folder, or from the Apple menu bar ( -> System Preferences...).
    system prefs

  2. Select Keyboard.
  3. In Keyboard preferences, click Modifier Keys.
  4. Use one of the pop-up menus to choose another key to act as your Escape key. (We'd recommend choosing the Caps Lock key, since the Command, Control, and Option keys are frequently used to perform keyboard shortcuts.)
    system preferences

  5. Click OK.

If you ever want to return your keyboard to its original behavior, simply reopen the keyboard settings and click Restore Defaults.

Popular Stories

iPhone 17 Plus Feature

iPhone 17 Lineup Specs Detail Display Upgrade and New High-End Model

Monday July 22, 2024 4:33 am PDT by
Key details about the overall specifications of the iPhone 17 lineup have been shared by the leaker known as "Ice Universe," clarifying several important aspects of next year's devices. Reports in recent months have converged in agreement that Apple will discontinue the "Plus" iPhone model in 2025 while introducing an all-new iPhone 17 "Slim" model as an even more high-end option sitting...
iPhone SE 4 Vertical Camera Feature

iPhone SE 4 Rumored to Use Same Rear Chassis as iPhone 16

Friday July 19, 2024 7:16 am PDT by
Apple will adopt the same rear chassis manufacturing process for the iPhone SE 4 that it is using for the upcoming standard iPhone 16, claims a new rumor coming out of China. According to the Weibo-based leaker "Fixed Focus Digital," the backplate manufacturing process for the iPhone SE 4 is "exactly the same" as the standard model in Apple's upcoming iPhone 16 lineup, which is expected to...
Apple TV Plus Feature 2 Magenta and Blue

Apple TV+ Curbs Costs After Expensive Projects Fail to Capture Viewers

Monday July 22, 2024 5:11 am PDT by
Apple is scaling back its Hollywood spending after investing over $20 billion in original programming with limited success, Bloomberg reports. This shift comes after the streaming service, which launched in 2019, struggled to capture a significant share of the market, accounting for only 0.2% of TV viewership in the U.S., compared to Netflix's 8%. Despite heavy investment, critical acclaim,...
iPhone 16 Pro Sizes Feature

iPhone 16 Series Is Just Two Months Away: Everything We Know

Monday July 15, 2024 4:44 am PDT by
Apple typically releases its new iPhone series around mid-September, which means we are about two months out from the launch of the iPhone 16. Like the iPhone 15 series, this year's lineup is expected to stick with four models – iPhone 16, iPhone 16 Plus, iPhone 16 Pro, and iPhone 16 Pro Max – although there are plenty of design differences and new features to take into account. To bring ...
iPhone 17 Plus Feature Purple

These 5 Features Will Make the iPhone 17 the Biggest Update in Years

Monday July 22, 2024 4:02 pm PDT by
The upcoming iPhone 16 models that we're expecting to see in September are going to be quite similar to the iPhone 15 models, but rumors suggest that Apple is making big changes in 2025. We've been hearing hints of an all-new device in the iPhone lineup, and it may be the most expensive iPhone Apple has offered to date. New 'Slim' Design Rumors have taken to referring to the new iPhone 17...
iPhone SE 4 Thumb 1

iPhone SE 4 Rumored to Launch Early Next Year With OLED Display, 48MP Camera, and More

Monday July 22, 2024 7:22 am PDT by
The fourth-generation iPhone SE will offer a series of major upgrades over the current model, the leaker known as "Ice Universe" claims. The information was listed in a post on Weibo, which also detailed the specifications of the iPhone 17 lineup. As previously rumored, the fourth-generation iPhone SE is expected to feature Face ID and USB-C, marking a major upgrade from current and previous ...
bsod

Microsoft Blames European Commission for Major Worldwide Outage

Monday July 22, 2024 11:55 am PDT by
Last Friday, a major CrowdStrike outage impacted PCs running Microsoft Windows, causing worldwide issues affecting airlines, retailers, banks, hospitals, rail networks, and more. Computers were stuck in continuous recovery loops, rendering them unusable. The failure was caused by an update to the CrowdStrike Falcon antivirus software that auto-installed on Windows 10 PCs, but Mac and Linux...