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Introduced with the MacBook Pro in 2016, the Touch Bar replaces the familiar row of function keys found on other Mac keyboards, and it works quite differently. Because it is actually a miniature screen, buttons on the Touch Bar change depending on context. In fact, different apps utilize the Touch Bar in different ways—some don’t add much, but others draw attention to key features or make certain functions easier to use. Here’s what you can do with the Touch Bar.
The handy Touch ID button on the right end of the Touch Bar lets you log in to your MacBook Pro with the touch of a finger—you don’t have to type your password! You can also touch this button to give the Mac permission to install new software and to pay for purchases in the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBooks Store, as well as with Apple Pay. Some password managers, including 1Password and LastPass, support Touch ID, so you can unlock those apps with your finger.
Plus, if several people have accounts on the MacBook Pro, each user can switch to their account by pressing the Touch ID button.
Found next to the Touch ID button near the right side of the Touch Bar, the Control Strip provides access to system functions similar to those available on the top row of an Apple keyboard, including brightness and volume. To view the entire Control Strip, you may need to tap the More < arrow button. To shrink it back down, tap the X at the far left.
The left side of the Touch Bar typically offers controls related to the current app. For example, when Calendar is frontmost on the screen, it shows buttons for viewing your schedule in different time frames. With so many apps available, it’s impossible to cover them all, but here are our favorites:
Because the Touch Bar takes on a different personality depending on which app is frontmost, it’s worth paying attention to. That way, you can take advantage of the controls that will benefit you the most.
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