Not sure you love the touch bar? Maybe you mostly just don’t love what’s on it. No worries: that’s easy to change.
I’ve long had a troubled relationship with the top rows of keys on the Mac. Some, such as the volume and brightness toggles, I use constantly; others, like the Mission Control and the Launchpad, I’ve never touched. There were ways to swap out these key’s functions for something else, if I decided to put these buttons to work, but they depended on third party software and often didn’t work consistently. Plus, they key itself would look the same, meaning the icon wouldn’t match any new functionality.
This is where the touch bar shines. You’re in control of which buttons show up, and how they show up. And it’s easy to customize out of the box.
Before we talk about customization, let’s talk through the basics of how the touch bar works. Here’s what the bar like without any application open:
The escape key takes up the leftmost spot, as it pretty much always does. On the right we’ve got four buttons, which Apple calls the Command Strip. You can tap the left-facing arrow to expand this strip, showing a collection of buttons similar to the top row of physical keys on other MacBooks.
This is called the Expanded Control Strip. Most users will only see it when they specifically expand the Command Strip. It’s possible to make this the default, though (more on that later).
For now, let’s talk about the rest of that empty space, which Apple refers to as App Controls. This space is used by whatever app is open, to show basically whatever that application feels is important. Safari gives you back buttons, a search bar, and a new tab button, for example.
Microsoft Word, meanwhile, gives you exactly the sort of buttons you’re used to seeing in a Microsoft Word toolbar.
And some applications, mostly older ones, show nothing at all here. That’s about all the touch bar can do, save one more trick: the old-fashioned F keys (F1, F2, etc.). To see these, simply hold the “fn” key.
All of this is basic, but it’s important to understand before you start customizing things. Speaking of: let’s dive in.
Maybe you’re not a big fan of the App Controls, and would prefer to always see the expanded Control Strip. Maybe you want it the other way around. Either way, to get started you need to head to System Preferences, then to the Keyboard section.Read More...
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