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How To Add A Custom Button To The Touch Bar In macOS

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The Touch Bar on new MacBook Pros will take time to catch on. Users have to decide when/if they want to upgrade their laptops and if they want these newer models. It’s going to take some time for this new hardware addition to become popular. Of course, user adaptability isn’t the only obstacle here. Developers need to add support for the Touch Bar too. If they don’t, users won’t see any value in having it there. Unfortunately, users are at the mercy of developers at this point. The good news is, you can add a custom button to the Touch Bar for any app or action you like. All you have to do is be willing to invest a little time.

In order to add a custom button to the Touch Bar, you need an app called BetterTouchTool. The default customization options for the Touch Bar don’t let you add custom button. BetterTouchTool is a very old, and very popular Mac app that lets users add and customize gestures for the touch pad. It’s a paid app but it has incredibly flexible pricing so that you can pay as little as $6 for it, if you want. The app also has a trial version that lets you try it out for 45 days.

This tool doesn’t just support the Touch Bar. It’s built to let you add a custom button to it. This button can do anything from opening apps and scripts, to executing app actions e.g. opening a new tab in a browser, or opening a file with a specific app

Download the latest, stable version of BetterTouchTool. Once installed, open the System preferences and go to Security & Privacy. Here, you need to allow Accessibility access.

Once you give it access, you can start creating custom buttons for the Touch Bar. Open BetterTouchTool’s preferences and go to the TouchBar tab. If you want the button to work regardless which app you’re in, select ‘Global’ in the left column. If you want a button to work only when a specific app is active, add it in the left column first. Click TouchBar Button at the bottom.

Enter a name for the button. You can configure the button to execute a keyboard shortcut, or you can choose an action from the exceptionally long list of supported actions. There is nothing left wanting here and everything from system toggles to mouse actions is covered. Assign the button an action and you’re done.

For our example, we’re going to add a global button that can open a new tab in Chrome. We called the button New Tab Chrome. The keyboard shortcut needed to open is Command+T. BetterTouchTool will ask you if you want to send the shortcut to a specific action. Select Chrome under it, and save the button. That’s all it takes.

The Touch Bar will show you all the buttons you’ve added and execute them as though they were native to the app.

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