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If you’ve never used the Touch Bar before and have no idea what to expect, here are the most important facts we think every MacBook Pro Touch Bar user should know.
Table of ContentsWhat Is The MacBook Pro Touch Bar?
The Touch Bar is a small OLED touch screen sitting in the same spot as the top row of functions keys on Macs that have come before. Where the “F” keys can take on any function, the keys themselves don’t change. The Touch Bar offers a dynamic control surface that can mimic the traditional F keys but can also be just about anything else.
The Touch Bar has been pretty divisive. Lots of people love it and then again many people wish it wasn’t there. Apple has made some changes to the Touch Bar in certain recent models to balance out those critics. For example, the 16-inch 2023 MacBook Pro sees the return of a physical Escape key, which many professional users cited as their main issue with the Touch Bar.How Do I Use The Touch Bar?
The beauty of the Touch Bar is that you use it just the same as any keyboard key. Simply tap the key you see to perform its function. The difference is that the Touch Bar will change the keys it’s showing based on which app is active at the moment.
Those controls don’t just have to be regular buttons either. They can be sliders, buttons that pop into more buttons, or whatever else the developers want to do with that small amount of real estate.The Touch Bar Is Split In Two
The Touch Bar is divided into zones with different dedicated functions. The right-hand third is known as the “Control Strip”. This has the Siri button, the brightness controls, and the volume buttons. The control strip can be expanded by touching the little arrow on its left side. The other portion of the Touch Bar is where you’ll find the app buttons.Which Apps Support the Touch Bar?
For example, in Safari you’ll see a small preview of your open tabs and can switch between them using the Touch Bar. In Garageband you can get quick access to the instrument and playback controls, making music production much easier.
What about third-party applications? Well, this is where things start to become a little more hit and miss. Plenty of professional applications now include their custom functions for this new input device.
Photoshop, as a prime example, lets you quickly adjust things such as brush size and type. Add layers, undo actions, and more. Of course, you can do all of this stuff by simply using keyboard shortcuts. Most seasoned Photoshop professionals are going to do just that.
This doesn’t make the Touch Bar valueless though. Some types of control benefit from having this versatile control. Scrubbing through an editing timeline, adjusting the color, fine adjustments and anything that works better with analog-style control is a good candidate for a Touch Bar treatment.The Touch Bar is Multi-Touch!
Just as with the iPhone and iPad, the touch input on the MacBook Pro Touch Bar is 10-input multi-touch. That might not seem all that important if you are only likely to use one finger to use most functions.
However, apps like GarageBand do need this when you operate instruments using the Touch Bar. It also opens up all sorts of possibilities for third-party developers.You Can Customize The Touch Bar!
One of the best things about the Touch Bar is the fact that you can customize it by using the built-in Touch Bar utility in macOS. This is where the Touch Bar can be at its best, for power users who need certain functions to be within reach and where the cumulative time saved matters.The F-keys Are Just a Button Away
If you’re coming from a non-Touch Bar MacBook, you may immediately feel a little panicky the moment you have to use the F-keys. The good news is that getting them back is very easy. Simply hold the “FN” button on your keyboard and they’ll appear.You Can Bring Back The F-keys Permanently
On this screen, you’ll see two important dropdown menus. The first is labeled “Touch Bar shows” and the second is labeled “Press Fn key to”.
If you don’t see these options, make sure your Touch Bar is active before opening Keyboard Preferences. If you are using external peripherals with the MacBook lid closed, the options will be absent.
All we have to do is change the first option to “F1, F2, etc. Keys” and the second to “Show Control Strip”.
Now the Touch Bar always shows the F keys and will show the standard control strip if you hold the Fn key. Of course, you can mix and match these settings as you please. This is just one example setup.Staying In Touch
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