Are you using your Touch Bar?

by Volker Weber


A few years ago, Lenovo came up with a Thinkpad X1 Carbon with a flexible function key bar. Thinkpad users hated this feature and it was quickly dropped a year later from the next X1 Carbon. Shortly thereafter Apple presented a similar design. (I don't suggest they copied it.) But Apple does not drop a controversial design quickly. If they build a product, they will go with it for a long run. Their current priority is probably fixing the butterfly keyboard and not working on Touch Bar.

My question is: if you have a Touch Bar, are you using it at all, or are you mostly ignoring it?


Sometimes it can be useful but it's mostly ignored. So far I have discovered no real added value!

Ensar Yilmaz, 2018-07-06

Also, die Escape-Taste der Touchbar nutze ich häufig... ;-)
Für alles andere lohnt sich der Blick nach unten nicht....

Fabian Müller, 2018-07-06

No. I hate it SO much. As a gamer not being able to accurately hit esc is infuriating. Also in boot camp the touchbar goes to ‘sleep’ and the first touch isn’t registered.

Pete Underwood, 2018-07-06

Ich nutze nur die „normalen“ Funktionstasten wie „esc“ und die Lautstärke- und Helligkeitsregelung. Und sehr selten nutze ich diese Funktion um durch Video zu „scrollen“.

Karl Heindel, 2018-07-06

I hate it with a passion. It's infuriating and I hope Apple kills it asap.

Valentin Woelm, 2018-07-06

No, the touchbar seems completely superfluous to me as it is today.

Although the touchbar could be useful for spell checking, especially for people like me, who can't write completely blindly on a keyboard. The little screen is close to the actual keyboard and the eyes would not have to search for long on the monitor. Unfortunately, the auto correction is unusable. It can't be switched on permanently, so it works only with certain software (Safari: yes, Firefox et al: no). Apple's suggestions are dumb, not reliable. When the cursor is placed in a word, and the suggested word is chosen on the touchbar, it doesn't replace the whole word, but just writes it in the word: (eg "usful" becomes "useful eful". On the iPhone this is not an issue. Very disappointing. Like so many other things on the Mac these days: Keyboard is a disaster comsumes a lot of extra time. There are major problems with the connection of the 5K monitors, hardware- and softwarewise, the dongles, no MagSave. Would I change to something else? No, I can't. Keynote is a killer application in my world. everything PowerPoint looks like the 80s as it can't handle Fonts correctly. PowerPoint is still evil.

Hubertus Alvensleben, 2018-07-06

I use it more after I installed BetterTouchTool. This allowed me to create custom shortcuts for certain apps: eg. a default reaction emoji in Slack (don’t ask!) or a ticker that shows currently playing spotify track. I guess this is possible with other keyboard shortcuts but it’s useful to have a dedicated button appear when you switch to the application.

Kieren Johnson, 2018-07-06

I use it primarily for setting volume, brightness etc. and quite frequently when using the calculator. With Mojave, I found the first really good use case: switching to and from dark mode with an Automator script on touchbar.
Counter question to all the touchbar haters: who used the function keys really often?

Axel Koerv, 2018-07-06

Forgot another use case: Logic Pro is using the touchbar quite smart, so whenever I am recording I use these controls.

Axel Koerv, 2018-07-06

Having volume and brightness on sliders is great and I use that very often.
All other features are not used by me, i even hate to switch the modes (when an application us using the touch bar and Insant to change volume I have to cancel that mode to get back to my sliders.

The other thing is that there is no promise that the touchbar is offering a feature that is helpful. To use that younhsve to active look to the touchbar and hope that there is a feature that helps you in that moment. Most of that activities doesn‘t result in something helpful. Therefore I do not bother anymore to look there which results that I don‘t use it.

I would miss the sliders but i would easily trade them in for a haptic escape button.

Dominique Roller, 2018-07-06

@Axel: You are right, function keys aren't used that often as well, but they only add a fraction to the price of an Macbook Pro. The price increase and marketing-hype that came with the touchbar is just ridiculous for how rarely you actually use it.

Alfons Berger, 2018-07-06

I only use the Touch Bar (Apple spelling) for volume control and the Touch ID/Siri button for logging in. It's pretty useless.

Thomas Meyer, 2018-07-06

I love the Touch ID but generally don’t like anything else. Highlight color options in Preview are interesting. Would prefer hard buttons for play/pause, mute, brightness etc. Interested to try BetterTouchTool.

Seth Crothers , 2018-07-06

I don't have a touchbar, but if I had, I surely would use this: this is literally the first time I saw it and thought that it was kinda handy.

Nils Riedemann, 2018-07-06

Just bought a refurbished 2015 MacBook Pro from Apple. The touchbar wasn't an issue for me -- I didn't want to deal with the failure-prone butterfly keyboard.

Bob Congdon, 2018-07-07

I use it frequently and think it’s a pretty neat idea which didn’t event get close its potential yet. Then only thing I’m missing from time to time is a physical escape key, but even as a heavy vim user this isn’t too bothersome, especially since the iPad keyboard got me used to crtl+c as replacement. At the same time I was never a heavy user of function keys, so they basically traded a keyboard row I usually don’t use regularily with something I use slightly more often.

I think a lot of the bad perception comes simply from a lack of features and / or options to customise - BetterTouchTool should have been a system feature.

Timo Zimmermann, 2018-07-07

I had an early MBP with touchbar and returned it, mostly because of a broken key. But the touchbar also did not work for me. Maybe if I gave it more time, but I doubt it.
I had one phenomena that puzzled me. Suddenly all windows closed. That happened frequently... until I found out that I tend to rest a finger on the escape key. And on the touchbar you can’t rest anything.

I now have a version without touchbar and I am happy with it. I would have liked Touch ID though.

You did not ask, but I am absolutely thrilled by the butterfly switch keyboard. It is loud, but I have never had a more precise keyboard, including decades of thinkpad keyboards.

Mariano Kamp, 2018-07-07

I wouldn't say I love the Touch Bar but do find myself using it a lot in programs that I use seldomly e.g. I am a very light MS Word user and when I need a specific function (bold, etc) I often can find that option on the Touch Bar which saves me having to find it hidden in some menu or other 😊 I would therefore say that I do find utility in the bar and, besides the mess-up that is the esc key, would buy my next Laptop with a Touch Bar again. Oh, and I absolutely LOVE the new keyboard (I have a MacBook Pro 15" 2016). Love the sound it makes and have had absolutely no problem with sticking keys etc.

Ursus Schneider, 2018-07-07

Great insights, especially the alternate view on the butterfly keyboard. I think I would also like it.

Volker Weber, 2018-07-07

I am pretty indifferent on the touch bar - I use it, but I'd be happy with the old function keys just the same. Only one thing I miss: the physical esc key. Since there's no haptic feedback I often hit something else instead (I'm a heavy vi user).

The real issue for me - I know it has been mentioned - is the keyboard. Not even sure whether the problem is entirely hardware related. I have had jumping cursors and inadvertent paste from the clipboard to the point where "blind" typing was getting totally impossible. I was actually close to returning my MBP after the first few days.

With the help of BetterTouchTool and some finetuning I found in some forum it has got a bit better now, but in general I find this kind of problem totally unacceptable for a notebook of that price segment.

If I did not depend on my OSX software infrastructure I would probably really have demanded my money back and switched my platform of choice.

Martin Dietze, 2018-07-09

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