10 Cool Things You Can Do with Touch Bar on the New MacBook Pro

Last Updated: February 23, 2017

The new MacBook Pros from Apple have seen their fair share of media coverage. Whether it was for the early reports of abysmal battery life, to the Touch Bar which seemed like a novelty to a lot of people. Heck, the MacBook Pros were even in the news for not offering more than 16 GB of RAM in what Apple is marketing as a “Pro” machine. However, when we talk about the Touch Bar, one thing is clear, it is being integrated into more and more apps, because it does offer an easy way to perform a lot of functions.

Obviously, the first apps to support the Touch Bar, were the ones that come pre-installed on the MacBook Pro. The Touch Bar allowed users to easily navigate through applications like Finder, while assigning tags, and sharing files on the fly. Users can also view large albums easily by scrubbing through the photos on the Touch Bar, which, by the way, pops out a nice looking preview of the selected image. All the buttons to adjust the volume, brightness, etc. are inside the “Control Strip”, the escape key is still there; and, if you really need the Function keys, you can just press the “Fn” key, and the Touch Bar quickly changes to display the function keys. So, if you have the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, or if you’re planning on buying one, and wondering what it can do for you; here are 10 cool things you can do with Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro:

1. Become a DJ

The Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro is perfect for putting tools suited to creative professionals. After all, who wouldn’t like using a multi-touch interface that is right there at the keyboard? If you’re wondering how useful it could be, you need not look far. algoriddim integrated Touch Bar functionality into their app “djay Pro”, and the experience is simply amazing.

You get a ton of cool controls right there on the Touch Bar, including things like effects, filters, loops, and steps along with a lot more cool stuff that you can use to drop some cool beats at your next house party. That is, if you’re ready to learn the complexities of using an app as powerful as this one.

If you do, though, you’ll quickly see how the Touch Bar can be extremely useful, if implemented correctly by the developers. The app is priced at $49.99, but a 15 day free trial is available on the algoriddim website.

Download ($49.99, 15 day trial)

2. Play Games on the Touch Bar

The Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro has a Retina Display, and is a perfect place for creative developers to put tiny games in. This is exactly what Guilherme Rambo did. He developed a Space Impact like game that runs on the Touch Bar, and is controlled by the arrow keys, and the space bar on your Mac. Needless to say, the game is a lot of fun, and is insanely addictive. Touch Bar games like this one are perfect for killing some time at the coffee shop, or during those long, boring subway rides.

Download (Free)

3. Annotate and Edit PDFs with Ease

The Touch Bar can also be extremely useful when you’re trying to edit PDF files, with apps like PDF Expert. PDF Expert was one of the first third party apps to start supporting the Touch Bar, and they did it perfectly. With PDF Expert running on a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, you will get options to quickly perform a variety of actions, including things like highlighting, and underlining text, along with options to redact text from the PDF, add notes to the PDF file, and insert text, images, and links into the PDF file. Plus, you can choose the colors directly from the Touch Bar itself, which comes with a full RGB slider to pick the exact color you’re looking for.

All this is made very easy by the fact that you no longer need to dig through on screen menus simply to highlight text, or redact information from a PDF document. Integration with the Touch Bar has basically made the PDF Expert app even more powerful, and intuitive than it already was. The PDF Expert app comes with a 7 day free trial, after which you will have to shell out almost $60 to continue using it.

Download ($59.99, 7 day free trial)

4. Unlock Password Managers with Touch ID

If you use password managers like 1Password, you will be delighted to know that you can now unlock your password manager application with your fingerprint, as well. The new MacBook Pros feature a Touch ID scanner on their power button, and once you’ve enabled Touch ID for your favourite password manager, you can simply tap on the Touch ID fingerprint reader (the Touch Bar even draws an arrow, pointing you towards the Touch ID fingerprint reader), and your password manager will unlock.

Obviously, this feature is only useful if you’re using a password manager like 1Password that is integrated with Touch ID. However, if you do use 1Password, you’ll be amazed at how fast the entire process is, and how seamlessly it seems to work.

Download (30 day free trial, plans starting from $2.99 per month)

5. Faster Video and Photo Editing on Your Mac

Like I said earlier, the Touch Bar is perfect for creative professionals, and that’s why it’s awesome that two of the most famously used video, and photo editing software, both support Touch Bar completely. For photo editing, Adobe Photoshop has Touch Bar integration. So, when you launch Photoshop, you will see some commonly used tools, and options available directly on the Touch Bar. In a Photoshop project, you will get shortcuts to adjust the layer properties like the opacity of the layer, and even a full history “Undo”, with previews!

The Touch Bar also gives options for adjusting various settings related to the brush you have selected. You can adjust things like the size of the brush, its hardness, color, and a lot more directly from the Touch Bar. Plus, Photoshop also gives the option to access your favourite tools in the Touch Bar.

In Final Cut Pro, one of the most used video editing apps on Mac, the Touch Bar has a plethora of options to choose from. You can do everything from tapping on “Import Media”, to starting a new project. The Touch Bar also displays your entire timeline, so you can easily scrub through it. This can come in handy in very long projects, where the timeline is too big. Scrubbing through the Touch Bar can make it easier than normal. You can even adjust the timeline zoom, directly from the Touch Bar itself.

The Touch Bar also gives quick access to all of the commonly used tools in Final Cut Pro X. You can choose the select tool, the blade tool, and a lot of other tools, along with their respective sub-settings. These things can come in extremely useful, especially if you regularly play around in Final Cut Pro X, or Adobe Photoshop CC 2017.

Download Final Cut Pro X ($299.99)

Download Adobe Photoshop CC (starts at $19.99 per month)

6. Quickly Switch Between Open Apps on your Mac

With the Touch Bar, you no longer need to press “command + tab” all the time, just to switch over to another open app. The Touch Bar can again save you some time, by being present right there, at your fingertips. With an app called “TouchSwitcher”, you get an app-store icon on your Touch Bar’s Control Strip. Tapping on this rolls out icons for every app that is currently open on your Mac. Then, you can simply tap on the app that you want to switch over to, and your work is done.

The best part about using “TouchSwitcher” is that when you switch over to another open app, the app comes into the foreground, even if you’ve minimised it. This solves a big problem of having to press “command + option + tab”, just to ensure that minimised windows also come to the foreground if I’m switching to their parent app. The app is available for free, but you can always choose to support the developer, by making donations on his website.

Download (Free)

7. Get Custom Touch Bar Buttons on Your Mac

The Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro comes with a plethora of customization options. You can customize the control strip to display buttons that you want, and use most often. You can even customize the Touch Bar on a per-app basis. However, if you’re looking for even more customizability for the Touch Bar, you don’t need to look any further than Better Touch Tool. This app can let you create custom buttons, complete with names, and custom icons for the Touch Bar, and you can even make the buttons app specific. So, you can use Better Touch Tool to make custom Touch Bar buttons that only come up on apps like Chrome, which doesn’t have Touch Bar support, yet.

This is exactly what I’ve done, and you’ll be glad to know, it works flawlessly. It does take some time to create the buttons, which is why my implementation is severely lacking, as of now, but with a little bit of time, and effort, you can set it up perfectly.

Download (45 day free trial, licenses start at $6)

8. Scrub Through Videos in QuickTime

QuickTime, Apple’s own media player application plays nicely with the Touch Bar, and has controls for a number of different things, depending on what you’re doing inside the app. If you’re simply watching a video, you will get controls to scrub through the video, and with the preview in the Touch Bar itself, the experience is even better.

QuickTime player is also the default method to record your Mac’s screen, or to record audio, and even movies using the FaceTime camera. When you’re recording a screen, the Touch Bar shows the options to record the entire screen, or just a selection of the screen, instead. Even while recording, the Touch Bar provides a handy overview of the total length of the video, along with the file size that it currently is.

9. Easy Access to Safari Tabs and Favorites

Almost every pre-installed app has a full fledged Touch Bar support, and Safari is no different. On launching Safari on the new MacBook Pro, the Touch Bar immediately displays your favourite websites, as beautiful, coloured icons. You can swipe along to view all of the favourites you have, and tap on them to open them in the tab. You can also open new tabs directly from the Touch Bar.

When you have more than one tab open in Safari, the Touch Bar starts displaying a little preview of the open tabs; and you can slide your finger on them, to switch between tabs. This can come in very handy for quickly switching tabs, or just getting a bird’s eye view of all the tabs that you have open. The tab icons automatically adjust their size to fit all of the open tabs into the Touch Bar, so you can view them at a glance.

10. Faster Text Formatting

The Touch Bar also packs in powerful text formatting features. Whenever you launch a text editor, such as TextEdit on your Mac, and begin typing, the Touch Bar quickly adapts, and displays word suggestions, formatting buttons to quickly format text as bold, italic, or underlined, as well as buttons to choose the text colour (if the app supports coloured text), along with alignment buttons, and the ability to format text into lists (bulleted, numbered, etc).

These options can let you quickly format text, without having to use your trackpad, or a number of key combinations. You can simply select some text, and format it as bold, italicised, or underlined. You can even quickly convert multiple lines of text into a formatted list, and more. There’s also an emoji button, which puts all of the supported emojis directly on your Touch Bar, sorted into proper categories.

The only disappointing thing about this feature, is that the text prediction works extremely slow. In fact, it didn’t update past the first word, while I was typing. If you’re slower at typing, then the predictions might update at the right speed for you. However, they didn’t seem to be of any help whatsoever to me.

SEE ALSO: How to Get TouchBar Functionality on Any Mac

Get More Productive with Touch Bar on the New MacBook Pro

While the Touch Bar may sound like a novelty to a lot of people, chances are, they haven’t had the time to use it for long enough to get used to it. Personally, I got used to the Touch Bar quickly enough, and it almost became second nature to use the shortcuts that I used most often, because it’s just easier to tap on a button, instead of clicking on items. There are a lot of other apps that make really great use of the Touch Bar, as well, but these were some of the uses that I, personally found very useful. However, if you know of any other really cool uses of the Touch Bar, do let me know about them in the comments section below.

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