The Touch Bar on MacBook Pro is arguably the most controversial component of the current generation MacBook Pro (aside from the keyboard itself anyway), and if you’re a MacBook Pro user who does not like the Touch Bar experience for any reason, whether it’s poking around to find and use the touch ESC key, or the constantly changing nature of the little touch screen in lieu of a simple function key row, you can effectively disable the Touch Bar on MacBook Pro models that come equipped with the thin touch screen strip.
By disabling the Touch Bar with the method we will demonstrate here, you will effectively have a static row of keys like a regular Mac keyboard does, no matter what app you’re using or what you’re doing on the Mac. With this setting, the digital Touch Bar keys will always remain consistent with touch buttons for ESC, brightness down, brightness up, Mission Control, Launchpad, keyboard brightness down, keyboard brightness up, skip audio back, pause / play audio, skip audio forward, mute, volume down, volume up, Siri – or if you customize the Control Strip of the Touch Bar those customizations will appear instead. Regardless, you won’t have the Touch Bar frequently changing to other digital buttons and flashing colors, sliders, thumbnails, and other options on the small touch screen above the keyboard.
How to Disable Touch Bar on MacBook Pro
- Go to the Apple menu and choose “System Preferences”
- Choose the “Keyboard” preference panel and then select the “Keyboard” tab of the control panel
- Look for “Touch Bar shows:” and pull down the dropdown menu alongside that, choosing “Expanded Control Strip”
- Confirm the Touch Bar screen is now showing the touch buttons for escape key, brightness, Mission Control, sound, etc, then exit out of System Preferences as usual
Effectively you’re stopping the little Touch Bar screen from changing appearance and functionality constantly with each app and depending on what’s going on on screen, so the Touch Bar remains consistent and behaves slightly more like a regular keyboard function row, except it’s still a tiny touch screen of course.
If you don’t like the Touch Bar, then disabling Touch Bar functionality this way is about as close to a normal keyboard experience you can get on the current MacBook Pro lineup, aside from using an external keyboard anyway (if the external keyboard idea appeals to you, then the Apple Magic Keyboard remains fantastic, with a crisp feel, nice key travel, a hardware escape key, and the entire hardware function row of f1 through f12, and no Touch Bar).
Of course, disabling the Touch Bar is not going to magically give you back a physical Escape key or the other physical buttons that are missing, but it may help you to use the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar keyboard if you’ve found yourself frustrated with it’s behavior, and thus some MacBook Pro with Touch Bar users may appreciate this option.
Like most settings, this can be reversed, so if you decide that you prefer to have the ever-changing dynamic nature of the Touch Bar back again simply return to the Keyboard settings and adjust the Touch Bar options to suit your needs.
If you find yourself wanting to disable the Touch Bar because you don’t like it, you’re annoyed with it, or you don’t find it to be useful, then you might also want to consider customizing the Touch Bar; for example if you accidentally hit the Siri button constantly then removing Siri from Touch Bar is quite effective at preventing that, and putting a screen lock button on the Touch Bar is another really nice customization trick. There are a bunch of other goofy uses for Touch Bar too, so it can be worthwhile exploring some of the Touch Bar tips to get a better feel for if the hardware component is compatible with your particular workflow.
And if you have any particularly helpful or interesting insight into Touch Bar for MacBook Pro, or perhaps another way to disable the Touch Bar, then share with us in the comments below!