Replacing physical function keys, the Touch Bar on select MacBook Pro models lets users access specific app functions and system and zoom features on Mac quickly. But sometimes Mac's Touch Bar doesn't work, behaves weirdly, or even disappears.
Here are some cases reported by Mac users about the Touch Bar on Mac not working:
- MacBook Pro Touch Bar wobbles
- MacBook Pro Touch Bar is missing
- Mac Touch Bar Won't Turn On
- Mac Touch Bar volume not working (volume slider not appearing)
- The Touch Bar on Mac does not react or display shortcut buttons.
- Touch Bar not working after Big Sur/Monterey update
- The right side of the Touch Bar does not work
There are many more, but most of them can be fixed with the methods in this post. Before discussing the solutions to fix Touch Bar on Mac not working, let's have a look at the reasons behind this issue.
Guide on Macbook Pro Touch Bar Not Working:
- Why isn't my Touch Bar working?
- How to Fix Mac Touch Bar Not Working?
- Mac Touch Bar Not Working FAQ
Why isn't my Touch Bar working?
There are various reasons for different issues for "Touch Bar MacBook Pro not working". To help you identify the cause, we've summarized all the possible reasons that can lead to Touch Bar failures.
Here are the possible causes for the Mac Touch Bar not switching with apps, not turning on, not showing volumes, not responding, freezing randomly, not showing app-specific functions, etc :
- Faulty apps
- Temporary software problems
- Obsolete macOS
- Incorrect parameters
- Running resource-intensive software
- A recent keyboard replacement
- overheating mac
- Insufficient memory or disk space
- Spilled water on the Mac
- Hardware issues
- Connected to an external monitor
Now that you have a rough idea of why your Mac's Touch Bar isn't working, it's time to fix the problem.
How to Fix Mac Touch Bar Not Working?
This complete guide contains all the solutions known to users who manage to fix Touch Bar MacBook Pro not working issue in various scenarios. You can apply these solutions on MacBook Pro based on Intel and M1 processors. It is advisable to check if the Touch Bar returns to normal after each solution.
Sometimes the Touch Bar does not light up or buttons are invisible, although it responds to touch input. If this happens to you, you need to plug in your Mac to charge it. If not, continue reading the solutions below.
How to Fix Touch Bar on Macbook Pro:
- Force Quit Disturbing Apps
- Restart your Mac
- Refresh Touch Bar
- Refresh control strip
- Check the Touch Bar display settings
- Clear the Touch Bar cache files
- Change sound output
- Update macOS
- Resetting SMC and NVRAM
- Ask for help from Apple Support
Force Quit Disturbing Apps
Suppose you notice that the Touch Bar Mac is not responding or showing commands after switching to a particular app. It's likely that the app is crashing or causing minor bugs and hidden processes that can prevent the Touch Bar from working properly. In this case, you need to force quit the problematic app to fix Touch Bar on MacBook Pro.
How to fix Touch Bar on MacBook Pro force quit app causing problems:
- Press the Command + Option + Esc keys simultaneously to bring up the “Force Exit” dialog box.
- Select the app causing the Touch Bar to malfunction and click Force Quit.
If quitting the app isn't enough, keep reading to fix Touch Bar not working on Mac.
Restart your Mac
Often, a simple restart is all it takes to fix minor issues that cause the MacBook Pro Touch Bar to not work. This simple trick has worked for several Touch Bar malfunctions, including the MacBook Pro's Touch Bar not showing the volume slider when tapped. Follow these steps:
- Click Apple menu > Restart.
- Click Restart in the dialog box to confirm the action.
If you are facing a frozen MacBook Pro screen, you need to press and hold the power button to force shutdown the Mac, wait for some time, and then turn on the Mac.
If restarting again doesn't help, read the methods below on how to reset Touch Bar on MacBook Pro by refreshing Touch Bar and control strip.
Refresh Touch Bar
When you encounter issues like your MacBook Touch Bar not working, one of the most effective solutions is to kill the Touch Bar process and restart it. By refreshing the Touch Bar, macOS will free up the memory and resources it's using, then allocate new ones to it.
It's especially useful when Mac's Touch Bar won't turn on. You can either refresh the Touch Bar using Activity Monitor, or…with Terminal.
How to refresh Touch Bar on MacBook Pro with Activity Monitor:
- Launch Activity Monitor from Finder > Applications > Utilities.
- Locate a process called TouchBarServer.
- The process is titled Touch Bar Agent on MacBook Pros running macOS 10.12 Sierra and earlier.
- Select the process and click the x icon to force quit it.
- Click Force Quit to close the “TouchBarServer” process.
You will notice that the Touch Bar shuts down for a moment, then returns to normal while macOS closes the Touch Bar, allocates new resources to it, and restarts the TouchBarServer.
How to refresh Touch Bar on MacBook Pro with Terminal:
- Open Terminal from Finder > Applications > Utilities.
- Paste the following command and press Enter.
- On MacBook Pros running macOS 10.13 High Sierra and later:
sudo pkill TouchBarServer
- On MacBook Pros running macOS 10.12 Sierra and earlier:
pkill agent Touch Bar
- Enter your password and press Enter to continue.
Refreshing the Touch Bar has also proven useful in cases where the MacBook Pro Touch Bar is not showing or the Touch Bar is working but has no display.
Did this solution fix the "MacBook Pro Touch Bar disappeared" issue? If it fails, proceed to the other solutions below.
Refresh control strip
The control strip refers to the right side of the Touch Bar, where you can adjust brightness, volume up/down, and ask Siri. If you find that the right side of the Touch Bar is not working, refreshing the control strip is likely the solution. You should also give it a try if you're having issues like the Touch Bar not showing up or becoming unresponsive to shortcuts.
How to refresh control strip on Mac:
- Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Terminal.
- Type the following command and press Enter: killall ControlStrip
Refreshing the control strip should have fixed issues with the right side of the Touch Bar (e.g. Mac Touch Bar brightness not working). But if it didn't work as expected, you need to check the display settings.
Check the Touch Bar display settings
- Go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Keyboard.
- Select "App Controls" or "App Controls with Control Strip" in the "Touch Bar" field.
If the Touch Bar is set to show "Extended Control Strip" instead of "App Controls", you will find that the Touch Bar does not change with apps.
Also check your keyboard settings (System Preferences > Accessibility > Keyboard > Hardware) and make sure "Enable Slow Keys" is disabled. If enabled, the Mac Touch Bar volume may not work.
Clear cached files from the Touch Bar
The temporary cache files generated and stored on Mac to speed up the processes may be full or corrupted causing the Touch Bar to malfunction. Similarly, configuring its preferences can also cause problems. So it helps to reset cache files and Touch Bar preferences.
How to reset Touch Bar cache files and app preferences on MacBook Pro:
- Open Finder.
- Click on the “Go” menu and select “Go to Folder”.
- Enter this path to the Touch Bar application preferences: ~Library/Preferences/
- Find the file named apple.touchbar.agent.plist, then delete it.
- Head to this path to the Caches folder: ~Library/Caches/
- Delete all contents of the folder.
- Remember to delete whatever is in the folder, but not the folder itself. Otherwise, some applications may not work.
- Restart your Mac.
Change sound output
Mac Touch Bar volume slider not working after plugging in an external display? If so, you need to go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Sound and select the Output tab. Try changing the output device and see if the Touch Bar works. You can also try with headphones and then go through the external speaker.
If you still haven't succeeded, it's time to update macOS.
New macOS updates provide security fixes and improve app support and other features like the Touch Bar. If you're using an older version of macOS, consider updating to the latest available for your Mac model.
Go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Software Update to update macOS, then install the available update.
Since the initial update may contain bugs causing the Touch Bar to not work, you should install the latest combo update to see if Touch Bar returns to normal. Chances are that software compatibility and bugs are also the reason users find Touch Bar not working after Big Sur or Monterey update.
If a recent update crashed Touch Bar and made Touch Bar options disappear from your MacBook Pro's keyboard settings, you should launch First Aid Disk Utility to repair Mac disk. If First Aid does not report any problems, try reinstall macOS without erasing the hard drive.
If the Touch Bar still does not respond or turn on, proceed to resetting the SMC and NVRAM.
Resetting SMC and NVRAM
The System Management Controller (SMC) is responsible for low-level functions related to physical parts like keyboard, indicator light, battery, processor, etc. If the Mac's Touch Bar won't turn on or the right side of the Touch Bar is missing, resetting the SMC may fix the problem. Note that the M1 powered Mac does not need an SMC reset.
If resetting the SMC does not fix the Touch Bar issue on the MacBook Pro, try resetting the NVRAM.
Ask for help from Apple Support
If none of these solutions solved your Mac Intel or M1's Touch Bar issues, it's likely that your Mac has hardware issues such as water damage, broken parts, or loose connections. As a result, you need to seek the help of Apple Support to perform a comprehensive hardware test on your MacBook Pro.
If the "MacBook Touch Bar not working" problem occurred after replacing the keyboard, you should report it to the technician who replaced the keyboard and ask them to fix it.
Many users have also reported the MacBook Pro Touch Bar flickering issue – the Touch Bar flickers with a bright white square when idle. Unfortunately, this is also a hardware issue. Other than running an Apple diagnostic to determine which hardware component is at fault and getting help from professionals, there's not much you can do to fix the flickering issue. Touch Bar.