macbook touchbar

I thought the new touchbar on the MacBook Pros was a gimmick without any real use. Well, one use:

I had assumed Apple would limit the functionality of it. I was wrong (sorta). The app Better Touch Tool, which I am late to, makes it quite useful.

The killer feature is it can run AppleScripts and Shell Scripts. It isn’t just a shortcut for a script, it can run and return the output to the touchbar! Imagine GeekTool, but using your touchbar for interaction. In this way, the MacBook pro’s touchbar is more useful and powerful than an Apple Watch, etc.

I was originally hipped to this as I was looking for a way to display Vox, Spotify or iTunes track info in the otherwise useless touchbar. This cat Luca (who’s site looks very cool), wrote up a quick how-to and provides a simple AppleScript that can be used for all audio apps:


I use VOX a lot on my Mac to listen to 24bit FLAC files. I modified Luca’s script to use VOX’s AppleScript dictionary:

— This script can be used in conjunction with Better Touch Tool to display the currently playing track on the MacBook Pro TouchBar
— More info here:
— modified with VOX's dictionary
if application "VOX" is running then
tell application "VOX"
if player state is 1 then
return (get artist) & " – " & (get track)
return ""
end if
end tell
return ""
end if

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After some more digging, I found this oft-cited Medium post by Alex Wolkov, which is awesome and perhaps the only thing you need to read to get up to speed:

View at

I still say if you can get the 13″ with the new form factor, but without the touchbar, you should. It is much cheaper and has a noticeably larger battery (54.5 vs. 49.2 Watt Hours). If you can live with integrated graphics the 13″ is WAY better than the 15″.

I had the 2016 version of the touchbar-less 13″ pro. I had switched to that 13″ from the 15″ with touchbar (2016) because the 15″ battery life was a total joke (2-3 hrs in practice). The 13″ sans-touchbar gets 8-10 hours in practice. I now have a 2017 13″ with touchbar (wanted the faster CPU) and its battery life is decent too, but you will get an extra hour or so without the touchbar (and save some $$$).

Related Reading:
Better Touch Tool:

Github Discussion of Media Scripts:


GeekTool Scripts: