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8 Common Ways to Fix Your MacBook’s Touch Bar

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Apple introduced the Touch Bar in the 2016 MacBook Pro models but eventually discontinued it from the redesigned 2021 lineup due to a lack of positive reception.

Nevertheless, many people still own Touch Bar-equipped MacBooks, and even the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro still has it. In most cases, it’s beneficial and helps people create a smoother workflow. But many users have reported that it often stops working or freezes.

So, to prevent your Touch Bar from becoming a nuisance and an impediment to your work, you can try these various methods to fix it:

1. Restart Your MacBook

Restarting your MacBook will solve most problems you’re facing, including an unresponsive Touch Bar. If a normal restart doesn’t work, you could also try force restarting your MacBook.

There are multiple ways to restart or force shut down your Mac. The easiest way to do it is by pressing and holding the power button until the screen goes black.

2. Force Quit Apps

The Touch Bar controls change as you switch between apps to adapt to whatever you’re doing. So, if it freezes while you’re using an app, then that app might be what’s causing the issue.

This can happen when you use a bug-ridden app that hinders the Touch Bar from performing its normal functions.

To get it to work again, you’ll have to force quit the app. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Click on the Apple logo in the macOS menu bar.
  2. Select Force Quit in the drop-down menu.
  3. Click the name of the app that’s causing the Touch Bar to freeze.
  4. Click on Force Quit.

If the app is the culprit, the Touch Bar will resume working after you force quit it.

3. Update Your MacBook Pro

If the Touch Bar doesn’t start working when you turn your MacBook Pro on, you may have to update your macOS. Running an outdated macOS can cause your Touch Bar to become infested with bugs or glitches preventing it from working normally.

Despite having been discontinued in the later MacBook Pro models, Apple still releases bug fixes for the Touch Bar regularly. So, go to System Preferences > Software Update on your Mac to check if any new updates are available for your Mac.

4. Activate the Control Strip

If you’ve noticed that you can’t see the options on the rightmost side of the Touch Bar, it might be because you’ve accidentally disabled the Control Strip.

The Control Strip refers to the brightness and volume options displayed on the rightmost part of the Touch Bar.

Here’s how you can activate it:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard on your Mac.
  2. Now, check Show Control Strip next to the Touch Bar shows setting.

5. Restart the Touch Bar Using Activity Monitor

Restarting the Touch Bar will refresh it and get it to work again. There are two ways to restart the Touch Bar.

You can restart it either by using Activity Monitor or Terminal.

Activity Monitor is the Mac equivalent of Task Manager. It’s an app that shows all the active apps and processes. You can use it to force quit apps or processes that have become unresponsive.

  1. To open Activity Monitor, open Finder > Applications > Utilities. You’ll find Activity Monitor in this folder.
  2. Alternatively, you can search for Activity Monitor using Spotlight Search (Press Command + Space bar).
  3. When you open Activity Monitor, you’ll see a long list of apps and processes arranged alphabetically.
  4. Look for Touch Bar Agent in the list. You can quickly look for it by typing it in the search field. If you can’t find Touch Bar Agent, try looking for Control Strip or TouchBarServer.
  5. When you find any of the Touch Bar processes mentioned above, select them and then click the stop (X) icon at the top of the window.

6. Restart the Touch Bar Using Terminal

Terminal is macOS’s command-line interface. It lets you make changes to your Mac by typing commands. You don’t need any coding knowledge to perform this step, though. All you need to do is copy and paste the code we’ve typed here into the Terminal app.

There are many ways to open Terminal on a Mac. You can find it in the Utilities folder or access it using Spotlight Search. Once you open a Terminal window, type the following and hit the Return key:

sudo pkill "Touch Bar Agent";

When your Mac prompts you to enter the password, type it in and hit the Return key on your keyboard. Note that you cannot see your password when typing it in Terminal. And if the above command line didn’t work, type in the following:

sudo pkill TouchBarServer;

Hit the Return key, but if that didn’t work either, try the following command line:

​​​​​​​sudo killall "ControlStrip";

Once you successfully do this, the Touch Bar should refresh and start working as intended again.

7. Reset the SMC on Your MacBook Pro

The System Management Controller (SMC) is a chip that controls various power functions. So, if there’s something wrong with the SMC, it can cause the Touch Bar to malfunction.

Apple suggests that resetting SMC to solve power-related issues with your Mac should be your last resort. Whether your MacBook Pro is powered by Apple silicon or an Intel chip, you can follow the instructions below:

Resetting the SMC on Macs With Apple Silicon:

  1. Plug your Mac into power.
  2. Restart or shut it down and then turn it on again.

Resetting the SMC on Macs With the T2 Chip (Intel Models):

  1. Turn off your Mac.
  2. Press and hold the Control, Option, and Shift keys simultaneously.
  3. Your Mac will turn on after a few seconds. Keep holding the three keys for 7 seconds, and then press the power button without letting go of the other three keys.
  4. Your Mac will turn off again. Hold all the keys for another 7 seconds, and then let go.
  5. Press the power button to turn on your Mac.

Resetting the SMC on Older Macs (Pre-2018 Intel Models):

  1. Turn off your Mac.
  2. Press and hold the Shift, Control, and Option keys.
  3. Press and hold the power button and hold all the keys for 10 seconds.
  4. Let go of the keys and turn on your Mac.

If none of the methods above work, your only option is to contact Apple. The Touch Bar can sometimes stop working if your Mac has suffered hardware or water damage which should only be fixed by a professional.

So, feel free to book a Genius Bar appointment and head to your nearest Apple Store with your MacBook Pro for hardware repairs.

Get the Touch Bar Working Again

The Touch Bar is a great feature that you can customize according to your needs to make it more useful. If you followed all the methods above, your Touch Bar should be fixed and functional by now.

But if nothing worked, then it’s time to take your Mac to a professional, as they’ll be able to assist you in more ways than we could.

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