The Touch Bar on Apple’s MacBook Pro lineup is widely hated by power users at this point. Most of them find it to be of barely any use and that they miss the physical Esc key. My experience with the Touch Bar, however, has been positive thanks to a bunch of apps and tricks that I have been using to get the most out of it.
Apple ended up reintroducing a physical Esc key to its MacBook Pro lineup with the 16-inch MacBook Pro, but the company is unlikely to ditch the Touch Bar and go back to physical function keys. The Touch Bar is not without its issues — it hangs occasionally, it is slow to respond, and it does not really do much to make itself useful. While I can’t really do much about the first two issues, I can tell you about some apps and tricks that will help you make the most out of your MacBook’s Touch Bar.
Best MacBook Pro Touch Bar Apps, Tips, and Tricks
This is a handy little application that turns the Touch Bar into a Dock. All the apps on your Dock will simply show up on the Touch Bar. This will allow you to hide the Dock completely from your Mac’s display and free up precious real screen estate.
The good thing about Pock is that it is highly customizable. Plus, it is extremely easy to switch between Pock and the Touch Bar’s native functionality by double-pressing the Control button which further makes using it a breeze. The app is highly customizable and allows you to show the controls for brightness, sound, etc. on the Touch Bar alongside your Dock items as well.
Another handy little app that shows the icons of running apps on the Touch Bar thereby allowing you to quickly switch between them. If you are a heavy multitasker and have a lot of apps open on your MacBook Pro at any given time, TouchSwitcher will make switching between them faster. It will also be more convenient than Command-Tab and/or using the mouse to switch between apps.
Haptic Touch Bar
One of the issues with the Touch Bar is that it does not provide any kind of haptic feedback when used. Since it replaces actual physical keys, this is a bit of a bummer and it ends up tripping the muscle memory of touch typists.
In comes Haptic Touch Bar with uses the Force Touch engine of the MacBook Pro to provide a haptic feedback every time one uses the Touch Bar. It is not an ideal replacement per se but it is still good enough to get the job done. You can also set Haptic Touch Bar to play a sound when you press a button on the Touch Bar.
If you hate the Touch Bar of your MacBook Pro due to the lack of haptic feedback, Haptic Touch Bar is a must-have app for you.
For maximum control over our MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar, you must try out BetterTouchTool. The app offers a plethora of customization options for the Touch Bar. You can even add custom action buttons to the Touch Bar, show contextual options for apps that don’t even support the Touch Bar, and more.
The options opened up by BetterTouchTool are endless, though understandably, not everyone will be interested in spending that much time and effort to set it up. The good thing is that BetterTouchTool has an active community where users share their presets with each other. You can simply download and import any such preset that you like and start using it right away.
Here’s a tip: you can hold the Control, Option, or Command button to reveal additional functionality or widgets while using BetterTouchTool. If you set up BTT right, it will be able to replicate the functionality of all other apps in this list.
Slide to Control Volume, Brightness
One of the most common complaints about the Touch Bar is that it introduces additional steps for changing the brightness and volume level and there’s a delay while using it.
What most people don’t realize is that they can control the brightness and volume level by simply dragging their finger on the Touch Bar from the brightness/volume icon. There’s no need to tap on the brightness/volume icon and then tap the button to increase or decrease it on the Touch Bar. A simple hold and swipe on the icon is more than enough.
This only works for controlling brightness and volume though and not for the keyboard backlit. Also, this only works when using the native macOS brightness and volume buttons. This won’t work with third-party apps like BetterTouchTool, though they have their own gesture system for such actions.
Customize Control Strip
If you don’t want to use any third-party app to make the most out of the Touch Bar, you can at least customize the Control Strip to expand its functionality. You are not going to get much by doing this but at least something is better than nothing.
Go to System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Customize Control Strip and then add or remove the items you don’t want to be displayed in the Control Strip.
What are some of your favorite apps, tips, and tricks for the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar? Drop a comment and let us know about it!