How to Get TouchBar Functionality on Any Mac

Last Updated: November 16, 2016

Apple announced the Late 2016 line of MacBooks, a little while back, and the TouchBar was the center of attention for most people. Ever since, people have touted the TouchBar as being great, or gimmicky, and a lot more. Now, I usually reserve judgement about these things until I use them personally. After all, everyone has a unique way of using their MacBook, and what might suit one person, might not suit the other. So, if you’re planning on buying the new MacBook Pro, and you’re wondering whether or not to spend the extra bucks on getting the TouchBar model, I have good news. You can now try out the TouchBar (sort of!) on your Mac. Here is how to do it:

Get TouchBar in macOS Sierra

Thanks to the developers at red-sweater, we now have a Mac app that can simulate a TouchBar right on your MacBook’s display. Since a Mac screen is not touch sensitive, you obviously have to use the TouchBar with the mouse, but the point of the app is to let you understand the way TouchBar works, and possibly figure out if it is for you.

touche

The app is available as a free download, and you can get it at the red-sweater website. Like most good things, though, there is a catch- you have to be running macOS Sierra, build 16B2657 or later. You can check the version number of macOS you’re running by clicking on “Version Number” in the “About this Mac” screen.

version-number

Once you download the app from the website, you need to unzip the file you downloaded. Unzipping the archive will yield the Touche app, in all its glory. Simply launch the app, and you will see a TouchBar displayed on the screen. The TouchBar dynamically updates according to the app that is active on your Mac.

touche-touch-bar

At first glance, the TouchBar sure looks gimmicky, but as I started using it, it turned out to be very useful. There are a some glitches that need to be ironed out, though. Since the TouchBar can dynamically update, users can customize it, and developers can use it however they want to use it, for their apps.

NoteYour Mac might need you to allow it to open the file, as it might not open due to the stringent new security measures introduced in macOS Sierra. If you’re unable to open the app because of this, you can refer to our article about the same.

Simulate a TouchBar on the iPhone and iPad

If an on-screen TouchBar doesn’t really sound all the interesting to you, you can even simulate the TouchBar on your iPad or iPhone screen, as well. This is better because you can use it using touches, which is how it was originally meant to be used. If you want to simulate the TouchBar on your iPhone, or iPad screen, simply follow the steps below:

NoteThis method involves side-loading an app onto your iPhone. If you don’t know how to do this, you can read our detailed guide about side-loading apps. Also, this method only works for devices running iOS 10.

1. Go to the GitHub project page for the TouchBar app. Here, download the “TouchBarServer.zip” file, and the “SourceCode.zip” file.

download-touchbarserver

2. Unzip the “SourceCode.zip” file, to reveal the project folder named “TouchBarDemoApp-1.4“.

3. Open the folder, and double click on “TouchBar.xcodeproj“. You will need Xcode installed for this.

open-touchbar-folder

4. Once the project opens up in Xcode, simply connect your iPhone, or iPad, and side-load the app. You can get detailed instructions from our article on the same.

5. Once the app is installed on your iPhone, unzip the “TouchBarServer.zip” file on your Mac, to reveal an application called “TouchBarServer“. Launch this application.

6. On your iPhone, launch the application you just installed. You should be able to see a MacBook on your iPhone screen, complete with the keyboard and the TouchBar strip.

touch-bar-on-demo-macbook

You can tap on any of the TouchBar buttons and see them working on your Mac.

If you don’t want the entire keyboard to be displayed along with the TouchBar on your iPhone, you can simply follow the steps given below:

1. On your Mac, click on the TouchBarServer icon in the menu bar, and go to”Remote Touch Bar Clients“.

touchbar-server-menu-bar-icon

2. Here, you can select the different display options for the app.

touchbar-server-menu-bar-options

You can even switch the TouchBar application to only show the TouchBar. After all, that’s what the app is about – trying out the all new TouchBar on MacBooks, and what better way to experience it, than by being able to touch it?

SEE ALSO: 12 USB Type-C Accessories for the New MacBook Pro

Check out the TouchBar on any MacBook

If you’re interested in finding out how the new TouchBar works on the new MacBook Pros, this app is a perfectly viable way of trying it out. All of these methods are completely free, and they work quite well. You should definitely try them out, and let us know your opinions about them.

So, what do you think about the new MacBook Pros that Apple has launched? We would like to know your thoughts on the TouchBar, and whether or not you think that it will turn out to be actually useful. Let us know in the comments section below.

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