It’s been nearly a year since Apple released the MacBook Pro with its most forward-thinking hardware innovation in a long time: the Touch Bar. It got a pretty bad rap straight out the gate, with claims of being gimmicky or just a cop-out for not giving the MacBook a touch screen.
One year in, we’ve actually had a lot of fun getting to know the Touch Bar and found plenty of apps that integrated the new technology well. If you’ve recently picked up a new MacBook Pro , check out our list of the best Touch Bar-compatible apps!
Spark has landed a spot on many of our best app lists, including Best Email Apps for iPhone and iPad, and Mac. This is for a couple of reasons. First, it’s free. Second, it’s just an overall solid email client, which is a breath of fresh air if you’re used to staring at something like Gmail all day. The design is great, and it simplifies your email workflow by grouping together all of your accounts in one place – even one inbox if you prefer.
Not only that, but there are a handful of features that come in handy throughout the day. You can create custom smart folders, customize your swipe actions, snooze emails for viewing later, and also pin emails that you want to remember.
Spark also has great integration with the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pros. From the Touch Bar, you have a range of controls. While browsing through your emails you can mark them as read or unread, pin them, snooze them for later, delete them, and more. If you want to respond to the email, the reply key in the Touch Bar will expand a menu so you can choose to reply to the sender only, reply all, or forward the email.
You can also start an email draft with the Touch Bar and touch the nice blue paper airplane button to send it off.
If you have any experience at all with Keynote, you’ll know that once you learn your way around, it makes creating awesome presentations a breeze. Unlike other presentation software (looking at you, Powerpoint) Keynote is responsive, has minimal lag time— if any— and has premium features like more professional-looking transitions and effects. In fact, with a little bit of time, you can create simple and very professional animated videos.
This is an Apple product, so you can pretty much bank on it having excellent Touch Bar integration. With the limited time that I’ve used the Touch Bar with Keynote, I can easily see how this will make building presentations even easier. Now, instead of hunting around in menus, the Touch Bar will provide you with contextually-relevant tools the moment you click on an object on your slide. For instance, when you’re editing text or shapes, the Touch Bar will present you with color sliders galore. You can manually adjust your RGB, CMYK, or HSB levels with a slider, or you can select pre-made colors. You’re also able to quickly adjust opacity. When editing shapes specifically, you can adjust the stroke color with the same RGB, CMYK, or HSB sliders. You can also select from 10 different stroke types and use another slider to set your preferred weight.
This is by far one of my favorite Touch Bar integrations. It’s simple, easy to understand, and actually makes the program easier to use.
If you still aren’t using a password manager, maybe it’s time to start. 1Password is among the best password managers around, and it’s even better on a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar. With the Touchbar, you have quick access to accomplish many of the same tasks you would with your mouse. You can select new items to add to your vault, create passwords, etc. You can even unlock 1Password with your fingerprint, use a slider to adjust the strength of a new password, and more. This is definitely a welcome addition, as password managers generally aren’t that easy to navigate, especially when you have them loaded up.
BetterTouchTool has been around for a little while and has been allowing Mac users to create custom actions using whatever touch input hardware they’ve got at their disposal. There’s even an iOS companion app that allows you to control your Mac in new ways. With the release of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, BetterTouchTool has a new means of allowing you to have full control.
After installing BetterTouchTool, you’ll be able to customize your Touch Bar far beyond what you could before. You can create actions to live on the TouchBar now, too, whether they’re system-wide or app-specific.
A system-wide shortcut could be a button for screenshot, or a button to bring up the force quit applications window. The same goes for app-specific shortcuts. If in your favorite app there are keyboard shortcuts that elevate your productivity, there’s a good chance you can turn those into a Touch Bar button.
The above picture pretty much says it all. You remember that mildly popular game Pong that was released by Atari back in the 1970s? Well, you might not remember it first hand, but you’ve surely heard of it and have played some form of it. Now, you can play it with your Touch Bar! By simply sliding your finger horizontally from one side to the other on the Touch Bar, you will compete against a computer-controlled player that supposedly gets better as you play. There are also three different difficulty modes for you to choose from.
TouchPong also touts the ability to play multiplayer. One person gets to use the Touch Bar, while the other uses the trackpad. It’s a little clumsy, but hey, why not?
In my opinion, Notes is probably one of the most underrated Apple apps; it comes with every Mac; it’s simple; it’s clean; it’s easy-to-use; and it syncs across all of your Apple devices without hesitation. With Touch Bar, the Notes app becomes even more useful.
Whether you’re furiously taking notes in class, at work, or even if you’re using the app to write up an article, the Touch Bar can really increase your speed. Instead of using your cursor to hunt around for certain functions such as bullet lists, type treatments, or checklist buttons, you can find them all on the Touch Bar. With a simple tap, you can get your bullet lists started and keep on typing. This makes me love using the app even more than I already did.
The MacBook with Touch Bar, though ridiculed by many, has proven to bring a new level of productivity when used with the right apps. Whether you just want to add a bit more functionality to the Touch Bar, or you’re looking for ways to have fun with it, hopefully, this lists sets you in the right direction!
Do you own a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar? If so, what are your favorite apps with Touch Bar integration? Let us know in the comments below!