What to Do if the Touch Bar Freezes on Your MacBook Pro

I have mixed feelings about the Touch Bar on Apple’s MacBook Pro. I think it’s a gimmick, and, while useful at times, isn’t useful often enough. As I type, I see predictive text options, but I’m not going to stop typing and tap the bar just because I see a word that I want to type next; it will slow me down. When I’m using Safari, some graphics sort of show what tabs are open, but they’re pretty useless; you can’t see enough to distinguish one tab from another.

The only thing I really use the Touch Bar for is the volume and brightness; adjustments that I made on previous laptops with F keys.

But this morning, the Touch Bar froze; at least the part on the right, the Control Strip. I couldn’t adjust the volume, or change the brightness. So I did some sniffing around and found what I needed to do to force quite the Touch Bar and relaunch it. It’s worth noting that this is the first time since I got this MacBook Pro in June that this has happened; and that there was a major macOS update yesterday. Coincidence?

Open Activity Monitor (it’s in your /Applications/Utilities folder), and click in the search field. Type “touch.” You’ll see one or more items.


Select TouchBarServer, then click the X button at the top left of the window. In the dialog that displays, click Force Quit. (Quitting might work, but force quitting should always work.)


This should resolve your problem.

2 thoughts on “What to Do if the Touch Bar Freezes on Your MacBook Pro

  1. I experienced this today on my 2016 macbook pro and have noticed this issue 2-3 times only after upgrading to macOS Catalina!.
    Only the right side of the touc hbar seemed to freeze. The side which has only the brightness & volume icons. Strangely it was not the entire touch bar that got frozen. The icons in the center group and the left group were responsive.
    And your solution worked with just the ‘Quit’ button.
    I’m curious to know why it’s happening? You can email me at: xxxxx@gmail.com if you know the answers or get to know about this.
    It’s a sure shot software issue, otherwise using your solution from the Acitvity Monitor app wouldn’t have solved it if it was actually a hardware issue.
    Thanks a ton!

  2. Thanks, this was much better than restarting the whole system. Force-quitting certain applications might trigger them to relaunch, so I find that more reliable than regular quitting. I knew there had to be an easy way! 🙂

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