How to Get Touch Bar Functionality on Your Old MacBook

You don’t have to wait until your new MacBook comes to take the Touch Bar for a spin. With Touché you can add an on-screen Touch Bar to any MacBook running macOS Sierra. And if you want something you can actually tap, you can use a minor hack to get a version running on your iPad.

1. Download Touché from the developer’s website.

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2. Install by dragging into your Applications folder.

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3. At this point you might discover that you’re running the wrong version of macOS Sierra.

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You’ll need to have macOS 10.12.1 installed, but you’ll also need the correct subversion, called a “build.” The correct build for this version is 16B2657, which can be downloaded from Apple.

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4. If you need to, install the updated version of macOS by mounting the DMG you just downloaded and running the contained install. Once your computer has finished restarting, continue.

5. Open Touché. You’ll see the Touché window pop up at the bottom of the screen.

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6. Now you should see the Touch Bar change as you move from app to app within the Mac. Go have fun!

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You can also use the accurately-named Touch Bar Demo App to run a software version of the Touch Bar on your iPad. While this is a hacked-together solution that you’ll need to build onto a properly-provisioned iPad or iPhone with Xcode, if you know what you’re doing, it’s a little closer to the real thing.

1. Make sure you’re updated to build 16B2657 of macOS Sierra 10.12.1. If you’re not, the application will not run. To check your build number, open “About This Mac” under the Apple menu and click on the macOS version number.

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If you have a different build number, get the updated version from Apple.

2. Download the most recent releases of Touch Bar Demo App from GitHub. You’ll need to download both TouchBarServer.zip which runs on your Mac and the source code which you’ll install on your iPad.

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3. Unzip TouchBarServer.zip and drag the resulting TouchBarServer.app into your Applications directory.

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4. Connect your device to your Mac via a USB cable.

5. Unzip the source code, then navigate inside of the TouchBarDemoApp-1.5 folder to open TouchBar.xcodeproj.

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If you don’t have Xcode installed, you’ll need to download it from Apple with an active developer account.

6. Click on the name of the project in the left pane.

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7. Click the Team drop-down in the middle of the screen under the Signing section.

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8. Select your Xcode developer account if you’ve already logged into Xcode with it. If you haven’t, click “Add Account…”

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8a. Log in to your developer account in the popup window.

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8b. Select your new Team from the drop-down menu.

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9. Change the part of the Bundle Identifier that says “bikkelbroeders” (between com. and .TouchBarClient) to something unique. It doesn’t matter what.

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10. Select your device in the upper-left of the menu bar.

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11. Click the “play” button in the menu bar to build the app to your device.

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12. You might get a warning saying your device doesn’t trust your developer account. Follow the on-screen prompts to fix this.

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13. Launch the Touch Bar Client app on your device, and launch Touch Bar Server on your Mac. Make sure to keep your device connected to your Mac via the USB cable you connected earlier.

14. On your device you’ll see a top-down view of a MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar.

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The Touch Bar, though small, will change in response to your actions on your Mac. This works best on a larger iPad, as you might guess.

If you want to see what the Touch Bar is like, an app like Touché is going to be your best bet. But if you want to get an idea of what it’s like to actually use, loading the Touch Bar Demo App on to your iPad is going to provide a slightly more realistic experience. But in the end nothing will be quite the same as an actual MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar installed.

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