The MacBook Pro Touch Bar Sucks, So I Disabled It

The Touch Bar debuted on the 2016 MacBook Pro. Fast forward to now, and it’s all gone from the Mac lineup. A touch-sensitive OLED strip along the top of the keyboard, the Touch Bar, with its app shortcuts, looks great. It certainly gave an impressive demo! But when I upgraded my MacBook, the Touch Bar made me more of a nuisance than a convenience. So I did the unthinkable and disabled the Touch Bar functionality after only a few months.

Here’s why I did it and how you can do the same.

Problems with Apple’s “breakthrough” Touch Bar

Apple’s press release sold the Touch Bar as a “revolutionary” and “groundbreaking” feature that highlights dynamic app shortcuts that automatically change as you multitask. Many of Apple’s stock apps already support these shortcuts, including Mail, Safari, Messages, QuickTime Player, and others (read our rundown on what the Touch Bar works and how it works). motion for more).

For example, in QuickTime Player, the Touch Bar provides playback controls along with a useful video filter. In Messages, emoji access lets you scroll through emojis and select the one you need right from the Touch Bar. And in the Photos app, the Touch Bar provides precise dial and image editing controls when rotating images.

So what’s not to like about the Touch Bar? Well, here’s my biggest pain point:

  • Usability issues: It’s a poorly implemented solution for finding a problem.
  • Limited number of applications: Not all apps support Touch Bar shortcuts.
  • Deep learning curve: Learning to do the same things differently is a waste of time.
  • No more physical function keys: Too many steps to change volume or brightness.
  • Soft Escape key: The Escape key doesn’t use tactile so it’s easy to miss when typing.


Perhaps these reasons sound familiar to you?

Usability issues

Switching your gaze back and forth — from the main screen to the small Touch Bar, then back — disrupts your train of thought and disrupts your concentration. In most cases, you can invoke the same action much faster using keyboard shortcuts.

Limited adoptions

Many popular third-party apps support Touch Bar shortcuts, including Microsoft Office and Spotify, but the extent of implementation varies widely between apps.

Adobe Photoshop, one of the first apps to support the Touch Bar, remains one of the rare apps that push the feature to a professional level to this day. In contrast, the Twitter app offers rudimentary Touch Bar support, such as composing tweets, opening settings, viewing lists, and composing direct messages, with a lot of free space. Bored, no?

Learning curve

Touch Bar integration in the djay Pro app allows you to manipulate two decks simultaneously, manually select active decks, and navigate the library for song previews and prep, among other features.

While I liked those shortcuts, I quickly realized that I already knew how to do things with the touchpad. And perhaps more importantly, I decided it wasn’t worth it for me to learn how to do the same things another way. When I decided the Touch Bar’s steep learning curve wasn’t for me, my interest in the feature quickly waned.

No more physical function keys

With the physical function keys gone, you no longer have tactile controls for media playback, volume, and brightness, etc. The problem with their virtual Touch Bar counterparts is that it requires more steps to get the job done. perform the simplest actions, such as adjusting the volume.

Soft exit key

You won’t realize how much you need a physical Escape key until it’s taken away from you. I can press the physical Escape key without looking, but trying to do the same with its digital version is an exercise in frustration. For example, you may use the Escape key more often than you think to cancel various actions. And developers in particular use a lot of these keys.

One more thing…

There’s one final reason I decided to ditch the Touch Bar: I like the rest of the input controls much better. Apple currently offers one of the smoothest typing experiences with improved mechanical keys on Magic Keyboards. On top of that, the MacBook is equipped with a spacious trackpad, giving you more space to move around.

By comparison, the Touch Bar surface didn’t feel good to my fingers. The flat OLED strip, while gorgeous, lacks the bounce of the mechanical keys and the width and smoothness of Apple’s glass multitouch trackpad.

Why not customize the Touch Bar?

Now, I can make my life easier by diving deep into the Touch Bar settings and cherry-picking which app shortcuts appear on my Touch Bar, I’ll give you that. there. But even that doesn’t change the fact that the Touch Bar interferes with the most basic of computer interactions — typing on the keyboard. And with each compatible app offering its own set of shortcuts, customizing hell from the Touch Bar seems like a chore.

How to disable the function of the Touch Bar

There is no off switch to disable the Touch Bar completely. Instead, you can configure it to replace per-app shortcuts with traditional function keys or generic media controls. To do so, select System Preferences from Apple menu or Pier. Next, click Keyboard in the System Preferences window, then select Keyboard navigation. Now click on the menu next to Touch Bar display and choose Extended control range Selection.

Finally, selecting your Touch Bar will bring up the function keys or system media controls.

  • Function keys: Click the menu next to Touch Bar displaythen choose Keys F1, F2, etc.
  • Media control: Click the menu next to Touch Bar display and hit Extended control range.

Selection Keys F1, F2, etc optionally swap out your media controls for the traditional function keys on your Touch Bar, along with the Escape key, as demonstrated by the image below.

Otherwise, choose Extended control range will only display Touch Bar shortcuts for media playback, as well as volume and brightness controls, and dedicated buttons for macOS features like Mission Control, LaunchPad, and Siri.

Regardless of your preferred layout, you can optionally set your Mac’s function keys to temporarily show virtual function keys when double-taped. To do this, click the menu next to Press and hold the fn key tothen choose Show F1, F2, etc keys. This allows you to press your Mac Function (fn) key twice to display the virtual function keys on the Touch Bar.

Honestly, I rarely use my Touch Bar

I’m not saying I’ll never use the Touch Bar again – I still use it in Photoshop and as a fun emoji picker. Besides, the Touch Bar is really not that useful to me. The good thing is that this feature is being released, with the current 13-inch MacBook Pro being the only model to offer one. I’m also glad Apple removed the Touch Bar from its standalone wireless keyboard.

In fact, the Touch Bar offers more than another way to do the same everyday tasks we’ve been doing for years. All it does is mess with years of muscle memory by pushing a feature no one asked for down our throats. Or to put it another way, it’s not worth the hefty price tag of admission despite what Apple’s PR department may tell you.

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