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Configuring the MacBook Pro Touch Bar

Customize the Touch Bar on MacBook Pro

Apple has been using the Touch Bar, a touch-based OLED bar, with the MacBook Pro for almost five years. Introduced in 2016, the touchscreen strip replaces the physical function keys at the top of the MacBook keyboard. In turn, these digital keys change automatically depending on what you do. The Touch Bar is also a shortcut to activate Siri, Apple’s voice assistant. The Touch Bar is a useful feature. Unfortunately, Apple rarely supports this, and suggests it’s placement on future MacBook Pro models may be questionable. Until fairly recently, I rarely used the Touch Bar on my MacBook Pro. I then took the time to customize it to suit my needs. Now, I use the Touch Bar every day.

What is the MacBook Pro Touch Bar?

All current MacBook Pro models, including 13-inch and 16-inch models, have the Touch Bar. The previously released 15-inch MacBook Pro models (deprecated in 2019) also feature the Touch Bar. For a while, the entry-level 13-inch model was shipped without a Touch Bar, but that’s no longer the case.

 You can customize the MacBook Pro Touch Bar using the steps listed below;

MacBook Pro Touch Bar App Controls

The Touch Bar shows the controls every time you use a supported app or task. Native apps on  macOS all support the Touch Bar. Many third-party apps also work with the Touch Bar, including Microsoft 365, Pixelmator Pro, Adobe Photoshop, djay Pro, 1Password, and more. Touch Bar App Controls

The best way to get started with the Touch Bar is to force yourself to use it in your favorite apps. My advice: start with fun apps like Apple TV or Music. You can easily switch between content using the Touch Bar in each app. For example, available buttons include Play, Pause, Forward, Backward, and more. Once you’re more comfortable using the Touch Bar, switch to other apps like Safari or Microsoft Word. You can move between tabs in the touch-based OLED bar and start a web search on the old one. You can also  use the Touch Bar to adjust text using familiar options such as Bold  and  Italic.

MacBook Pro Touch Bar Control Strip

By default, you’ll see a Control Strip at the right end of the Touch Bar. From this location, you can adjust the volume, ask Siri a question, change the screen brightness, and more. You can also expand the Control Strip to access other buttons.

MacBook Pro Touch Bar Control Strip

Extended MacBook Pro Touch Bar Control Strip includes shortcuts to change screen and keyboard brightness, Mission Control, Launchpad, video/music playback, sound, and more.

Extended MacBook Pro Touch Bar Control Strip

Customize MacBook Pro Touch Bar Control Strip

You can configure the appearance of the extended Control Strip to suit your needs. Changes are made through System Preferences on your Mac.

To make adjustments:

  1. Click System Preferences from your Mac toolbar.
  2. Choose Keyboard.
  3. Click Customize Control Strip…

MacBook Pro Touch Bar Customize Control Strip

Modifying the MacBook Pro Touch Bar Control Strip

While Customize Control Strip… is enabled, you can add items to the Touch Bar by dragging the available icons to the bottom of the screen. You can then remove items by moving them to the top of the screen.

  • Add buttons : Use trackpad or mouse to drag a button from the screen onto the Control Strip; The buttons on the Control Strip vibrate slightly.
  • Rearrange buttons: Use your finger on the Control Strip to drag a button.
  • Remove buttons:  Use trackpad or mouse to drag a button from the Control Strip to the screen.

When you’re done editing, select Done on the screen.

How To Change The MacBook Pro Default Touch Bar ?

 You can choose from four additional skins for the Touch Bar by default in  macOS Big SurThese include Function Keys, Extended Control Strip, Quick Actions, and Spaces.

To change the default:

  1. Click System Preferences from your Mac toolbar.
  2. Choose Keyboard.
  3.  Select the dropdown next to the Touch Bar displays.
  4. Choose from App Controls (default), Function Keys, Extended Control Strip, Quick Actions, and Spaces.

MacBook Pro Default Touch Bar App Controls

By default, you can remove the Control Strip from showing when Application Controls is selected via System Preferences. Just uncheck Show Control Strip.

Function keys

If you want to go old-fashioned and see no reason to use the Touch Bar, you can add Function Keys. In doing so, the Touch Bar includes the 12 digital keys F1 to F12. When using the App Controls in the Touch Bar, click the World key on your keyboard to access the Function Keys.

Quick Transactions

On macOS, you can create Quick Action workflows using the Automator app. They appear in the Touch Bar when created (by default, when Quick Action is selected).


Finally, with Mac spaces, you can create additional desktops to organize windows. When working in an area, you only see windows in that area. When choosing Spaces as the default Touch Bar setting, you can use the ribbon to move between spaces.

I hope it was a useful content, you can send your thoughts as a comment.

If you don’t have a Mac and want to use mAcOs operating system, it’s a good idea to take a look at our VirtualBox macOS High Sierra Installation article.

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