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Do you like the Touch Bar on MBP?


  • Total voters
    138

MrMister111

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Jan 28, 2009
3,368
270
UK
Looking at getting a first MacBook Pro, first MacBook at all, used iMac up to now.

Looking from afar I think the Touch Bar looks a good idea, but have read up and can understand the problems outsole are having.

I keep hearing about no function keys permanently, but you can make apps just show function keys if want permanently, or hold down Fn key and they show up, so is this so bad?

It seems to be highly customisable as well, so good in that way as well, via settings as well as apps, “better Touch Bar” as well.

I do understand the tactile feel will be missing though, is this the biggest problem? I heard about no escape key, mainly for developers, but can you not just make it permanent?

I know you now have to look down on keyboard as such to see what to do now as well, but does this spoil workflow?

I suppose this is Apple’s way of not having a full touchscreen on a MacBook, so a half way fix?

Although I’ve never used yet, I’ve seen plenty of YT and Apple vids so looking forward to using if get one.

Would like to know others thoughts though as in some applications, Photos, GarageBand it seems to look a good idea.

I’ve done a poll if everyone could vote for some info to please
 
Last edited:

casperes1996

macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2014
6,688
4,577
Horsens, Denmark
Yes. The lack of tactility and having to look down is a big deal. A massive deal. But it depends on what you do with your computer. I use the function row a lot every day, both as function keys and as special functions like brightness. The TouchBar would add functionality I wouldn't really benefit from, whilst making it more steps to quickly use what I access every day already. Changing brightness isn't a convenient button you know where is. It's tap, slide. Two slower steps instead of one fast one. Same for volume. Escape key is probably the least big deal since you really don't have to be precise. Anywhere in the top left of the TouchBar activates it and while the lack of tactile response is a bit irritating, it's at least fast and convenient. I'd think it cool for when I work in GarageBand, maybe even stuff like Affinity Photo. But when working in Maple or programming, or even just regular day-to-day stuff I prefer having physical function keys actually. All the shortcut-like stuff the TouchBar presents I already know keyboard shortcuts for anyway that don't require looking down or anything.
However, take all of this with the massive grain of salt that is; I own a 2014 MacBook Pro. My exposure to the TouchBar is through university mates' computers, in-store tryouts and the like. But when I am coding a project at uni with my mates, and I interact with a TouchBar Mac... I miss physical keys. And Maple is way worse, when you want to switch between math and text modes with F5, and need to stop whatever you're thinking to make a complete mental context shift to get F5, and back again
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All of that said, it still wouldn't deter me from getting a Mac with a TouchBar if it were the only way to get the config I otherwise want. It's not THAT big a deal. But I'd prefer function keys. Or maybe even both, with a TouchBar above the function row
 
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mouthster

macrumors regular
Apr 22, 2005
224
89
It's pointless IMO. Keyboard shortcuts will always be faster and more reliable. Can't count the number of times I've lightly brushed it with a finger while typing on the number row, trigging something I didn't want to do. I work remote and use Zoom for meetings. Zoom has the mic and camera mute on the Touch Bar, so when I'm in a meeting and typing, it's like typing on egg shells out of fear I will accidentally trigger the camera and co-workers will see me in my bathrobe.

You can force it to show classic media keys or function keys to mitigate the nuisance - and it looks hilarious. Like someone forgot the rest of the keyboard.

Before anyone points out it's great for picking emoji, ctrl-cmd + spacebar is far more efficient.

It's the reason why I haven't upgraded from my personal 2014 15".
 

leman

macrumors G5
Oct 14, 2008
14,435
10,605
It’s more useful that the function keys (which are completely useless unless you rely on software that violates Apple design guidelines), but it’s not as useful as it could be. In the end, it’s a nice interface for doing basic computer controls (volume and whatnot), and occasionally it’s a timesaver (such as picking colors). I wouldn’t nessesarily miss it but I definitely don’t want the f keys back.
 

Howard2k

macrumors 68040
Mar 10, 2016
3,213
2,450
I assume Command-Option-Esc works just the same? That's the only thing I ever need to use the Escape key for that I can recall.
 

casperes1996

macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2014
6,688
4,577
Horsens, Denmark
It’s more useful that the function keys (which are completely useless unless you rely on software that violates Apple design guidelines), but it’s not as useful as it could be. In the end, it’s a nice interface for doing basic computer controls (volume and whatnot), and occasionally it’s a timesaver (such as picking colors). I wouldn’t nessesarily miss it but I definitely don’t want the f keys back.

Whilst something like the Maple example in my earlier response in this thread may not follow Apple guidelines, there's plenty of great software, even from Apple, putting F keys to good use. Like Pages, where you can use them to quickly change styling. Or Final Cut where I have the extended keyboard with 19 F keys all do something. Or just manually programming in functionality for anything you want
 
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turbineseaplane

macrumors G3
Mar 19, 2008
8,846
15,014
Yes. It's a step back and a PITA.
At the very minimum it should be optional, if not outright killed.

They tried something - it really hasn't taken hold like it should have by now - time to kill it.

Apple has a big problem with killing things they've tried that didn't work. They dig in like no other on all their mistakes and it's a huge problem for them these days (in my opinion anyhow)
 

Strangedream

macrumors 6502a
Sep 15, 2019
660
540
London, UK
Yeah ... I can think of a few reasons why the touchbar's bad
  • I frequently activate Siri by accident when I try to reach for the backspace key
  • Pressing the function key has turned into a gruesome two-step process
  • Using the touchbar requires you to take off your eyes from the screen
  • Dev never really took advantage of the touchbar which makes its use very limited
  • Maybe a haptic or sound feedback would have helped?
 

ElectronGuru

macrumors 68000
Sep 5, 2013
1,625
456
Oregon, USA
When carpool lanes were first introduced they were installed in place of one normal lane. The result was instant stress and anger. Carpool lanes since have only been added to existing lanes.

By itself the bar is a sweet idea. But it should be it’s own row, not in place of the F keys. Most complaints are for this reason. Including my own: large hands mean I’m forever accidentally hitting the esc key.
 

MrMister111

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Jan 28, 2009
3,368
270
UK
By itself the bar is a sweet idea. But it should be it’s own row, not in place of the F keys. Most complaints are for this reason. Including my own: large hands mean I’m forever accidentally hitting the esc key.
Trouble is people would complain about this as well then though. “It’s too far away to reach”, “I keep accidentally activating it”, “it’s pointless” “it’s no different to the function keys” etc, probably similar to what is now.

It won’t please everyone, some will hate it, some won’t, maybe was a risk by Apple. I presume it was almost a test when they did the old 13” with and without the TB and maybe found more were buying it with it and thought they’d go all in. Not sure if how much a spec difference or price difference though.
 

Schranke

macrumors 6502a
Apr 3, 2010
973
1,055
Copenhagen, Denmark
I like the Touch Bar, but I never had workflows which used the function keys. What I however have experienced is that many apps uses the bar in ways to get a better workflow for me and just basic quality of life improvements.
One of the things I use it for is a dictionary, as English is not my main language I sometimes forget how a word is spelled, having it pop up while typing makes things easier.
There is some things that apple could do better, especially with system integration.Having volume/brightness as slider on the TB makes onscreen indicator pointless as you know where you are, and in Catalina you can not disable this.
 

leman

macrumors G5
Oct 14, 2008
14,435
10,605
...there's plenty of great software, even from Apple, putting F keys to good use. Like Pages, where you can use them to quickly change styling. Or Final Cut where I have the extended keyboard with 19 F keys all do something. Or just manually programming in functionality for anything you want

But these are exactly the things that TouchBar excels at. It’s great for selecting colors, styles, and it can use sliders for timeline navigation and manipulation of scales etc.
 

loby

macrumors 65816
Jul 1, 2010
1,280
847
Looking at getting a first MacBook Pro, first MacBook at all, used iMac up to now.

Looking from afar I think the Touch Bar looks a good idea, but have read up and can understand the problems outsole are having.

I keep hearing about no function keys permanently, but you can make apps just show function keys if want permanently, or hold down Fn key and they show up, so is this so bad?

It seems to be highly customisable as well, so good in that way as well, via settings as well as apps, “better Touch Bar” as well.

I do understand the tactile feel will be missing though, is this the biggest problem? I heard about no escape key, mainly for developers, but can you not just make it permanent?

I know you now have to look down on keyboard as such to see what to do now as well, but does this spoil workflow?

I suppose this is Apple’s way of not having a full touchscreen on a MacBook, so a half way fix?

Although I’ve never used yet, I’ve seen plenty of YT and Apple vids so looking forward to using if get one.

Would like to know others thoughts though as in some applications, Photos, GarageBand it seems to look a good idea.

I’ve done a poll if everyone could vote for some info to please

Love it when punching-in when recording with Logic Pro X. No latency and it punches in exactly where I want when having to over-dub or correct vocals etc.

If it was more customizable (like adding a marker button) it would be ideal!
 

casperes1996

macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2014
6,688
4,577
Horsens, Denmark
But these are exactly the things that TouchBar excels at. It’s great for selecting colors, styles, and it can use sliders for timeline navigation and manipulation of scales etc.

Color and timeline, sure. Style selection, no. F4 is much, much faster to select heading 3 than having to look down at an OLED strip and tap the right spot.
 
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stevemiller

macrumors 68000
Oct 27, 2008
1,765
1,197
as shipped by apple, i really dislike the touchbar. the usability for even basic things like volume control is poorly thought out, and for most software i use, it remains either unsupported or reproduces functions that were already readily available without having to look down at a separate interface. (i have an external monitor so my eyes are no where's near the keyboard)

but i downloaded bettertouchtool and was able to vastly improve my experience to the point where i'm mostly ok with it (the one exception being lightly brushing the edge of the touchbar triggers accidental input)
  • i can now adjust volume or brightness by 2 or 3 finger slides *anywhere* on the touchbar, requiring no looking.
  • i rolled my own persistent spotify controls that show the now playing song/next/back in any app and never get stolen away by other system mutlimedia.
  • i can manually populate the touchbar with exactly the functions in apps that are useful but inacessible enough to justify their existence rather than a smattering of ones i'll never use.
 

an-other

macrumors 6502
Aug 12, 2011
343
133
casperes1996 does a great job summarising things imho.

I personally don't use function keys for the stuff I do (and it's ok if your use case is different!) It is still maddening how hard it is to get a screen print, but I'll let it go. And yes, I'm aware of the new Catalina program.

The idea of the touchbar is pretty clever, and Apple programs do take advantage of it. I often, just do things they way I do, and don't look for touch bar shortcuts. I have to consciously think to use them. The volume slider is now something I access.

Most non-Apple programs don't take advantage of their usage. I've seen some interesting touch bar programs in the app store, but nothing that had me click to buy.

If you read comments, Apple can't do anything right. They actively review user experience, and realise the existing function keys are generally not used. They attempt to innovate. There's a very dedicated group that needs function keys for their work, so a lot of negative feedback. It didn't help matters that the touchbar machines were a premium over the non-touchbar machines when you had a choice. You want the latest and greatest machine? You must pay more, and key functionality [you need] is taken away. The pun was not intended.

It's important to keep in mind, people that read/write on sites like this are dedicated users. The top subset of consumers. What's critical to them may not be important to you. In fact, it may be better for you. One of the things that make Apple a brilliant product company is not what they put in a Product. It's what they leave out. It's an art and it's hard. And sometimes it's not successful. Their track record is they get it right more than they do otherwise.

My summary is simple: Do you currently use function keys for your work? If you don't actively use them, then the touchbar is likely going to be an improvement for you. It's a small evolution (with potential to be greater if developers start exploiting it more.) Do you need function keys for your current work? Then you may be frustrated. Hop down to an Apple Store, and take one for a test drive...
 

psingh01

macrumors 68000
Apr 19, 2004
1,536
570
It’s a gimmick and nothing more to me. The sliders for volume and display brightness are nice, but I’d rather have physical keys for everything else.
 
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Rotten_Apple_

macrumors newbie
Oct 10, 2019
6
2
The problem with the touch bar is it's location on the keyboard. Being all the way at the top it's just too cumbersome to be practical. For people like me, who type with 2 fingers, it's just too much trouble reaching up there, I have a hard enough time with the physical media keys on the regular macbooks while people who know how to type probably don't need it. Now a trackpad at the bottom that doubles as a touch screen, that would've been useful, very Apple-like, I'm surprised they didn't do that instead.
 

MrMister111

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Jan 28, 2009
3,368
270
UK
Now a trackpad at the bottom that doubles as a touch screen, that would've been useful, very Apple-like, I'm surprised they didn't do that instead.
ASUS do this, wonder how it compares. Basically their trackpad is a touchscreen for stuff. I wonder how it works for accidentally touches etc though.
 

Rotten_Apple_

macrumors newbie
Oct 10, 2019
6
2
ASUS do this, wonder how it compares. Basically their trackpad is a touchscreen for stuff. I wonder how it works for accidentally touches etc though.
Yeah, I've seen it on other laptops but in my opinion it would be more useful on a Mac and Apple is competent enough to make it work right.
 

Darth Tulhu

Suspended
Apr 10, 2019
1,617
2,610
When carpool lanes were first introduced they were installed in place of one normal lane. The result was instant stress and anger. Carpool lanes since have only been added to existing lanes.

By itself the bar is a sweet idea. But it should be it’s own row, not in place of the F keys. Most complaints are for this reason. Including my own: large hands mean I’m forever accidentally hitting the esc key.

This.

The problem wth the TouchBar is the fundamental problem with Apple: They LOVE to remove things, even useful ones.

The TouchBar would have been fine as an addition, or in their consumer-level ultrabooks as a subtraction.

A so-called pro machine should have no such limitations.

The MacBook Pro used to, and still should cater to the widest possible range of professional users. This means a variety of (currently used) ports, accessible internals (at least SSD), better-than-decent screens and a reliable, full keyboard, all in a package that is reasonably light.

In my opinion, 2012 was the last year Apple actually built a MacBook Pro.

Just because people can use an iPad, an iPad-like ultrabook, or a consumer-level laptop for pro work does not mean Apple should have stopped also catering to customers that wanted actual pro-level power without workarounds, like they used to.

I've always been of the mind that Apple should expand their offerings in the Mac side... we have 5 diferent iPads, for crying out loud.
 

casperes1996

macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2014
6,688
4,577
Horsens, Denmark
It is still maddening how hard it is to get a screen print, but I'll let it go. And yes, I'm aware of the new Catalina program.

Really? I’ve always thought that screen captures were amazing on macOS.
cmd+shift+3 whole screen
cmd+shift+4 drag an area to capture with the mouse
cmd+shift+4 followed by space bar and you can click a window to screenshot the whole window
and Catalina: cmd+shift+5 enter screen capture mode.

Did you know the shortcuts or did you open the screen grab tool every time?
Inside the new Catalina UI you can also change all sorts of things, like whether the result is saved to a location or just goes to clipboard.
 
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KPOM

macrumors P6
Oct 23, 2010
16,325
5,144
Yes. It's a step back and a PITA.
At the very minimum it should be optional, if not outright killed.

They tried something - it really hasn't taken hold like it should have by now - time to kill it.

Apple has a big problem with killing things they've tried that didn't work. They dig in like no other on all their mistakes and it's a huge problem for them these days (in my opinion anyhow)
How so? They tried FireWire and dropped it. They tried 3D Touch and dropped it.
 

an-other

macrumors 6502
Aug 12, 2011
343
133
Really? I’ve always thought that screen captures were amazing on macOS.
cmd+shift+3 whole screen
cmd+shift+4 drag an area to capture with the mouse
cmd+shift+4 followed by space bar and you can click a window to screenshot the whole window
and Catalina: cmd+shift+5 enter screen capture mode.

Did you know the shortcuts or did you open the screen grab tool every time?
Inside the new Catalina UI you can also change all sorts of things, like whether the result is saved to a location or just goes to clipboard.

I don't take a lot of screen prints on the mac, so I forget the shortcut commands. I use a PC at work, and it's the Print Screen Button or Ctrl + Shift+ P. I can take 20 screen prints a day at work.
 
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