We’re not afraid to admit it. Upon realizing that the new Macbook Pro replaced the old function keys with a thin OLED panel, we weren’t immediately bowled over. The “Touch Bar” seemed like a gimmick, something to jazz up another model in Apple’s line of ubiquitous chrome laptops. However, after spending some time with the Touch Bar, it seems our initial apprehension was unwarranted. Is the Touch Bar necessary? No, not really. Is it useful? Definitely. To prove it, we’ve rounded up some of the Touch Bar’s most useful features.
Control Your Music Player
I think it’s safe to say that virtually everyone has used their laptop to listen to music. Whether you love iTunes or have a fondess for another music player, there is one persistent problem affecting your music enjoyment. In order to skip to a particular track, you would have to stop what you were doing and switch to iTunes. Fortunately, the Touch Bar renders this unnecessary. When you listen to music on your Macbook Pro, you’ll notice that the standard music controls are residents of the Touchbar. Tapping them will pause, play or skip tracks, without having to switch to the app first.
Adjust Brightness and Volume
The Touch Bar features a brightness and volume icon. Tapping either one of these will present a slider that is manipulated through touch. Swiping your finger left or right to adjust volume and brightness is faster and much more intuitive than clicking and dragging with the mouse.
When playing media, you’ll notice that there is a media timeline in the Touch Bar along with other media controls. Moving your finger across the scrubber will pan through the video or skip to a certain part of a song. You can even pan through YouTube videos if you are watching with the Safari browser.
Type More Efficiently
Apple has integrated the predictive typing present on iOS to the Macbook Pro with the Touch Bar. Now whenever you’re typing, whether it be an email or a Word document, the Touch Bar will learn your style and voice. This enables your Macbook to make predictions of what you’re likely to say next. Those predictions will appear in the Touch Bar. Tapping on it will insert it into your text, saving you from typing it manually.
Speaking of typing, the Touch Bar also allows you to easily format text without having to navigate jumbled menus. Simply highlight some text, and the Touch Bar will display a bunch of formatting options like bold, italicize, underline and more. Tap on the one of your choice, and your selected text is formatted.
Use TouchID to Sign In and Confirm Purchases
The right side of the Touch Bar features a TouchID scanner like the one in iPhones. Pop your finger over it, and the sensor scans your fingerprint, allowing you to easily sign in and out of devices. This is especially useful for people who share a Macbook Pro and have multiple accounts on one machine. Different users can quickly sign in by touching the sensor. Another cool feature is the ability to validate purchases from the App Store or within Safari using TouchID. When making an online purchase with a stored payment method, your Macbook will ask you to authenticate your identity before confirming the purchase with the online vendor. This beefs up security but also makes you think twice about potential splurging.
When using the Photos app or another program with Touch Bar support, you’ll be able to utilize the Touch Bar in post-processing. The Touch Bar can assist in rotating, cropping, filtering, color correction and more, depending on what you’re doing. When in Photos, the Touch Bar also shows thumbnails of your pictures, allowing you to search for a specific photo by swiping left or right. The thumbnails are pretty small, but it’s better than scrolling through with a mouse.
Navigate Your Calendar
When using Apple’s Calendar app, the Touch Bar lights up with various timestamps, ranging from days to months to years. Say goodbye to the days of scrolling endlessly through your calendar, and start tapping on the dates in question for lightning fast navigation.
Accept (or Decline) Calls
Receiving a phone call via Facetime or Skype on your Macbook used to be a somewhat jarring experience. Now, however, when a call comes through, the Touch Bar alerts you to who is calling and provides accept or decline buttons. During a call, the person’s identity is displayed along with other useful information like the call’s duration.
Access the Function Keys
For most, sacrificing the function keys for the Touch Bar is hardly the end of the world. However, for some, panic set in when it was discovered that the function buttons were axed. Luckily, those staples of computing are still there. Simply hold down the Fn key at the bottom left of your keyboard, and the Touch Bar will display the familiar Function icons.
When typing, you’ll notice a little smiley face hanging out on the Touch Bar. Give him a tap, and the entire Touchbar will be illuminated in a string of emojis. Just tap on the emoji of your choice to insert it into your text.
Do you use the new MacBook Pro Touch Bar? If so, what are your favorite Touch Bar features? Is the addition of the Touch Bar enough of an incentive to buy a new Macbook Pro, or do you think it’s just a novelty marketing gimmick? Let us know what you think in the comments!