Using the Escape Key on Touch Bar MacBook Pro
Perhaps one the most controversial aspects of the Touch Bar equipped MacBook Pro models is the removal of a physical hardware Escape key. Instead of being an always present physical Escape key, the new Escape key is a digital button on the Touch Bar screen which is usually visible but not always.
We’ll discuss using the Escape key on the Touch Bar of a Mac, and also how to make it appear if the Escape key is not visible for whatever reason.
Hit the digital “ESC” button on Touch Bar to Escape
Accessing the new Escape key on Touch Bar is usually just a matter of tapping “Esc” when it appears on the Touch Bar screen, but sometimes it is not displayed on the MacBook Touch Bar.
Escape key not visible on Touch Bar? Try this
If you can’t see the Escape key on the Touch Bar, it’s likely because the Touch Bar is in some secondary menu option, whether it’s the control strip or an app specific Touch Bar menu.
If the Touch Bar “Escape” key is not currently visible, you likely need to press the “(X)” button, or the “Exit” button, the “Done” button, or the “Cancel” button to exit out of a current Touch Bar screen to return to where the standard Escape key would be shown. This should make the “Esc” key visible again.
For example, hitting the “X” button to close the app strip control strip:
Or hitting the “Cancel” button to close the Touch Bar options:
This will reveal the Escape key you might expect to see:
(Demonstrated above with native Touch Bar and with the app Touche which can demo the feature on screen as well, which makes it a bit easier to explain)
Escape key is not showing up at all, Touch Bar is acting weird?
Rarely, the Touch Bar can also freeze and become unresponsive, in which case forcing Touch Bar to relaunch should resolve such a problem.
Want a real tactile Escape button on the Mac keyboard?
If you’re like me and use the Escape key often throughout the day, you may find the digital Touch Bar escape key to be a challenge particularly when it’s not always visible or available without toggling a few buttons on the screen first. The best current option (aside from using an external keyboard) would be to remap for a hardware Escape key to replace the Caps Lock key or another auxiliary key you don’t use much.
While some advanced computer users may find the lack of a physical Escape key to be unintuitive or frustrating, but one of the perks of the Touch Bar approach is the other digital keys that can be added on the Touch Bar, like a screen lock button.
Can you relocate the Escape key on Touch Bar to be flush with the left side of the keyboard?
Another interesting aspect of the virtual Escape key on Touch Bar Macs is that instead of being in it’s longstanding location of exactly in the upper left corner of the keyboard, the Touch Bar Escape Key is indented slightly nearly an entire key length. This can make for some missed Escape key presses and a bit of finger dancing until users get accustomed to the new indented virtual escape key position. Currently there is no way to remove that indentation of the Escape key on the Touch Bar however, as the Touch Bar display itself does not actually correspond to that area of the Touch Bar.
For now, these are the options available to use the Escape key on Touch Bar Macs. Perhaps future versions of Macs will allow users to opt out of having the Touch Bar on high end hardware, and perhaps future Touch Bar versions will no longer curiously indent the virtual Escape key button into the Touch Bar as well, or maybe future Touch Bar Macs will have 3D Touch and haptic feedback on the Touch Bar to make it a bit more obvious when touch typers are hitting the virtual Escape key? Who knows what the future will bring?
How do you like the new virtual Touch Bar Escape key? Do you have any tips or comments? Let us know!