For as many keys as your keyboard holds, there are always hundreds more symbols that get left out. One of these is the degree symbol.
Luckily, the degree symbol is on your keyboard – just hidden behind a special code or action. Here’s how to type the degree symbol on your keyboard, whether you’re using a computer or phone.
How to type the degree symbol on a Windows PC
On a PC, you have a few options.
If you’re using a full-size keyboard with a numeric keypad (or “numpad”) on the right side, you can type the degree symbol with an Alt Code. These codes require you to hold down the Alt key and type a series of numbers on the numpad.
The degree symbol code is Alt + 0176. As soon as you let go of the Alt key, the symbol should appear.
The emoji menu
Windows 10 has a hidden emoji menu that lets you easily insert any emoji or special character into your text.
1. While you’re able to type, press the Windows key + . (period) to open the emoji menu.
2. At the top of the menu, click the omega symbol (Ω) to see the list of every special character.
3. Scroll down in the list until you find the degree symbol and click it to add it to your text.
Third-party keyboard remappers
Remapping is the process of changing what a specific button or key does. You can download apps and configure your keyboard so when you press a specific key, or enter a keyboard shortcut, it types out a degree symbol.
There are a few apps that let you create custom keyboard shortcuts, but the best for making special character shortcuts (like for the degree symbol) is probably CatchChar. It takes a little tinkering, but will let you insert any special character with a quick keyboard shortcut.
How to type the degree symbol on a Mac
To type the degree symbol on a Mac, press Shift + Option + 8.
Alternatively, press Control + Command + Space to open the Emoji & Symbols menu and then click Punctuation in the left sidebar. You’ll find the degree symbol in this list – double-click it to add it to your text.
How to type the degree symbol on a Chromebook
The method on a Chromebook will sound a bit confusing at first, but once you do it once, it’ll be clear.
1. While you’re able to type, press Ctrl + Shift + U. The letter u with a line below it will appear where you typed.
2. Without clicking away, type OOBA and then press Enter.
The underlined u will turn into the degree symbol.
How to type the degree symbol on an iPhone or iPad
1. Tap a place that you’re able to type so the keyboard appears.
2. Press the 123 icon in the bottom-left corner of your keyboard, and then press and hold your finger on the zero key (0).
3. After a moment, a small pop-up will appear with the degree symbol in it. Drag your finger over to it and release.
How to type the degree symbol on an Android
1. Tap a place that you’re able to type so the keyboard appears.
2. Tap the ?123 icon in the bottom-left corner, and then the =< icon above it.
3. The degree symbol will be on this page. Tap it to type it.
Mechanical keyboards offer tactile and auditory feedback that can reduce typos for fast typists.
Many gamers also appreciate the speed of mechanical keyboards.
The best mechanical keyboards come from brands like Das, Razer, Logitech, SteelSeries, and more.
Mechanical keyboards create both tactile and auditory feedback, delivering more accuracy for typing and more speed for gaming. The best mechanical keyboards deliver a mix of speed and accuracy in a comfortable set-up that doesn’t feel too loud.
Mechanical keyboards use a physical switch under each key rather than a membrane or rubber dome. Besides offering a satisfying “clicky” feel, mechanical keyboards are more accurate for fast typists. Tom Gilmore is the technology education coordinator at Free Geek, an electronic recycling and refurbishing nonprofit. People who type fewer than 150 words per minute won’t see much of an improvement by ditching the membrane keyboard, he said, but fast typists will gain more accuracy. “The robust construction of each switch also lends itself to being much more durable in terms of the number of times that a key can be pressed before it wears out,” he said.
The feel of the switch is a matter of personal preference. That’s why mechanical switches come in different variations. Besides the amount of pressure required to push each switch, the different types of keys will also have a different feel and noise to them.
As a writer, I regularly type for several hours a day. To find the best mechanical keyboard, I consulted experts, fellow Insider writers, and dozens of professional reviews on the top-ranked options. We’re currently testing many mechanical keyboards to narrow down our list.
Here are the best mechanical keyboards you can buy:
With a classic layout, a sturdy build, and a click that isn’t overly loud, the Das Keyboard 4 Professional is an excellent yet versatile mechanical keyboard. The Das Keyboard 4 comes in a PC or a Mac version, so keys like command and Windows will be properly labeled for your system. It’s a full-size, 104-key layout with a numeric pad, with the addition of a nice-sized volume dial and a few media keys.
The version with Cherry MX Brown keys offers that mechanical feedback without annoying anyone that happens to be nearby.
The full-size keyboard is constructed from plastic, but it’s a thicker, sturdier build than some aluminum models we’ve tested. It doesn’t have colorful backlighting, but the sleek black design will easily fit into any office. The keyboard also connects with a chunky USB cord. But for the mix of comfortable typing, system-specific layouts, and build quality, the Das Keyboard 4 Professional stands out.
Razer’s gaming keyboards are highly ranked, but the company’s new mechanical keyboard geared toward the office is getting high praise, too. The Razer Pro Type Wireless loses the colorful backlighting and black keys for a clean, white keyboard with white backlighting.
Using Razer Orange keys, the keyboard uses a quieter key that doesn’t require much force. That makes the keyboard much more office friendly than one designed for gaming, though it’s not as quiet as a membrane, non-mechanical keyboard. The keys are also fully reprogrammable, so you can customize them with shortcuts that best fit your workflow.
Most mechanical keyboards are still corded, but the Razer Pro Type Wireless uses a dongle-free Bluetooth or a wireless connection that requires a USB dongle. That keeps your desk space less cluttered. The Bluetooth connection works with up to four devices, including smartphones and tablets.
But this mechanical keyboard is power hungry, according to Forbes. If you use the lights and the Bluetooth, the battery is rated to 12 hours, so this is a keyboard you’ll want to plug in at the end of every day. Alternately, you can get up to 84 hours with the lighting off or 78 hours with no lights connecting via Wi-Fi. You can use the keyboard while charging, if necessary. Some users also didn’t like the automatic sleep mode made for saving battery, which can create a delay after pausing.
The best budget mechanical keyboard
The Drop ENTR is ideal for users new to mechanical keyboards and those on a budget.
Mechanical keyboards usually cost over $100. The Drop ENTR, from a company known for its customizable keyboards, sells for $90 without sacrificing the must-haves. Drop says that the keyboard is designed for newbies, so you don’t have to be a mechanical keyboard expert to get started with a tactile typing experience.
The keyboard is available with a tactile switch called Halo Trues or a linear switch without that bumpy feedback. N-key rollover helps the keyboard keep up with any typing speed. The ENTR is a tenkeyless keyboard, which means it has everything except for that secondary number pad that usually sits on the right. If you don’t need the extra numbers, the smaller keyboard can be more comfortable for centering in the right position on your desk. It also allows you to comfortably reach your mouse. It uses a USB-C wired connection, so there’s no need to charge or worry about batteries.
While it’s a budget-friendly keyboard, PC Magazine notes that the build is good for the price. The keyboard is made from both metal and plastic.
The Drop ENTR lacks the customization of some of the pricier models. It doesn’t have any extra buttons, like media controls, and it’s labeled for use with a PC. It can be used with a Mac, but the layout of some of the extra keys are different.
The best quiet mechanical keyboard
The Logitech G513 is ideal for those looking for a mechanical keyboard to use in a shared office space and for gamers who don’t want to annoy their roommates.
The Logitech G513 is a slightly older model, but it delivers some flagship-like features without the price. Insider writer Matthew Smith says that the keyboard has a good, chunky tactile feel for the price point. It’s a full-sized keyboard with a number pad, though it lacks extras like play and volume buttons.
Using Logitech’s own Romer-G Tactile or Romer-G Linear switches, the keys have a bit of a different feel than the Cherry MX options. Membrane-based keyboards will still be the quietest option, but PCMag notes that these keys are quieter than a lot of other mechanical keyboards while still retaining the feel. The keys are also quick enough for gamers to consider this keyboard.
Customization options include both the function keys and adjusting the colorful RGB lighting down to individual keys. The keyboard includes a USB pass-through port, but you don’t gain an extra spot to plug in peripherals because the keyboard needs two USB ports to power that “extra” port.
The best mechanical keyboard for typing
The Varmilo VA87M is great for frequent typists who want both comfort and style.
You don’t need to choose between standard black or white to get a comfortable keyboard. The Varmilo VA87M is a tenkeyless mechanical keyboard. That means there’s no extra number pad on the right. It’s easily customizable by switch type, color, and even layout, making it easy to find one that suits your needs, including options that are tailored to Mac.
With its custom switches, the Varmilo VA87M allows you to choose whether you want a lightweight, quiet push; a firm, clicky feel; or something in between. The keyboard’s caps use dye-sub printing to get a variety of colors and styles. That makes it easy to color-code frequently used keys or to get a keyboard that doesn’t look like every other one out there.
The VA87M has a few customizable controls, though it lacks the every-key customizing of some of the pricier models. For roughly $130, it has a mid-range price, but it does lack macros and lighting. Business Insider writer Simon Hill said the keyboard is “easy and effortless to type on.” He also noted that the construction will last for years, though some gaming features are missing.
Razer added an optical sensor to each switch on the Huntsman series. Similar to the light sensor on a mouse, it registers when you press that mechanical switch. You get the feel of a mechanical keyboard but at a much faster speed with the Razer Huntsman Elite.
Available in linear or clicky switches, the keyboard uses switches designed by Razer rather than a third-party key, like Cherry MX. Razer says the switch has a shorter actuation distance than other similar switches. That means you don’t need to press the keys hard or far. Though it’s a gaming keyboard, it’s also great for general typing, according to TechRadar.
Besides the speed and comfortable typing, the Huntsman Elite offers a full set of keys, including extra controls for media and a custom dial. It has custom macros and custom lighting and can save five user profiles, more if you plug in more memory. The keyboard is constructed with an aluminum top plate. It’s pricey, but you can get those fast switches in models with a smaller design and fewer features, such as the Huntsman Mini.
The best adjustable mechanical keyboard for gaming
The SteelSeries Apex Pro allows you to customize the sensitivity of individual keys, so you can make it fit your preferences.
Mechanical keyboards make it possible to find a key that works best with the way that you type, but the SteelSeries Apex Pro takes that one step further. The keyboard uses linear switches that have adjustable actuation points. That means you can change how hard you need to push each key before it registers, between 0.4mm and 3.6mm. If you tend to always accidentally bump a key, for example, you can turn the actuation way up. The keys you need to press the fastest, on the other hand, can be reduced to just a slight press.
After trying out the Apex Pro late last year, Insider’s Simon Hill said it “might just be the best gaming keyboard there is.” Besides the ability to customize the sensitivity of each key, the keyboard also integrates a small LCD screen and a clickable roller, along with the usual keys that you find on a full-size keyboard.
The Apex Pro is made from aluminum alloy. The USB connection has two ports. You’ll need both if you want to use the USB pass-through port that’s on the keyboard itself. It also includes a magnetic wrist rest, but we’ve tried models with more cushioning. Hill notes that the keycaps can develop grease build-up, while the keyboard surface tends to attract dust. But for gamers who want both a light, easy press and a firmer, harder key, the SteelSeries Apex Pro is hard to beat.
A full-sized keyboard doesn’t easily tuck into a laptop bag. The HyperX Alloy Origins 60 is a compact, 60% keyboard that still delivers the feel and durability of a high-end mechanical keyboard. Despite the smaller size, it still builds in RGB lighting, which the white swirls on the space key tend to pick up, too.
A 60% keyboard does away with the numpad like a tenkeyless but goes one step further and removes the arrow, function, and command keys to the right of the Enter key on a typical keyboard. These keyboards make up for those missing keys via shortcuts, so you’ll need to press two keys to hit an arrow key, for example.
We liked the feel of the HyperX Alloy Origins 60 while conducting tests for the best keyboards overall. While the 60% design isn’t for everyone, the smaller profile may be worth considering for gaming away from home or finding that perfect perched keyboard position.
How to choose a mechanical keyboard
Key type plays a big role in the overall feel of the keyboard in your hands. Mechanical keys come in three main types, Free Geek’s Tom Gilmore explains:
Linear switches are a simple switch type. When you press a key, a circuit is completed, which is what gets that signal to the computer.
Tactile switches add a bump to a linear switch. This creates tactile feedback so you can physically feel that the key has been fully pressed.
Clicky switches are tactile switches but with auditory feedback as well. As the name suggests, you get a louder click with this switch type.
There’s more than just the basic switch type. Different types of switches will also vary depending on the amount of pressure that you need to use them. This creates variety even among, say, two tactile switches. Pressure sensitivity is measured in grams (g) or centinewtons (cN). “A lighter key (say 45 cN) will be easier to press than a heavier key (60 cN), which can be beneficial for writers or others who type a lot,” Gilmore said. “The lower pressure allows for a faster keypress and less finger fatigue —yes, that is a real thing — for a more efficient workday. A heavier key, however, gives a lot more feedback to the typist and can make people feel more connected to their computer and the work that they are doing.”
Many companies use Cherry switches. Cherry MX has several colors with different feels. The MX Red is quiet without feeling any physical feedback, MX Brown is quiet but tactile, and MX Blue has both physical and auditory feedback. Some companies design their own switches. Some people will prefer one type of switch over another. If you have no idea what type of switch you want, a switch sample costs around $20 and lets you test the sound and feel of different types.
Outside of the keys, consider features like size and connectivity, and extras like a built-in wrist pad. “A built-in wrist pad keeps your wrist in a neutral position, not flexed or extended,” said Kevin Weaver, a clinical assistant professor of physical therapy at New York University.
What we are currently testing
Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT: With smooth typing and some gaming-focused macros, the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT receives some good praise from the gaming community. It lacks the custom pressure keys and optical-mechanical design of the other $200 gaming keyboards on this list, however.
SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL: The SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL is similar to the Apex Pro, but it uses standard mechanical switches and not customizable switches. It comes in the smaller tenkeyless design. If you don’t want the customization or numpad, you can save $70 and still get a great gaming keyboard.
Leopold FC900R: Recommended by Wirecutter, the Leopold FC900R has a lot of customization options for a full-sized keyboard. Reviewers also note the keyboard’s sturdy build.
Feeling out of the loop is never fun, and seeing acronyms frequently thrown around online can easily invite that feeling. But taking a few seconds to learn them can help you quickly communicate information.
One such acronym is AFK. Here’s what you need to know to understand and use this acronym in your own online life.
AFK is an acronym that means “away from keyboard.” But it’s primarily meant to convey that you won’t be available at your computer or device for a period of time. You can pair it with a time frame to communicate how long you will be away from your keyboard.
The AFK acronym has been around since the early days of internet culture, specifically in chat rooms in the 1990s.
It even dates back to an online news bulletin from FidoNews in 1989, alongside other emoticons and abbreviations. The newsletter defined AFK as “away from keys.”
It was later commonly used in the gaming community for online multiplayer games. You can still find it in various spaces on the internet, though it isn’t as widespread as it once was.
The acronym has had a bit of a resurgence, thanks to the game “Among Us,” in which idle players are often labeled as AFK.
Ergonomics, wired or wireless, and other factors come into play when choosing a keyboard.
Our tips for choosing a keyboard will help you pick the right one for your setup.
The Das Keyboard 4Q is our pick for the best keyboard because of its unique notification system.
When it comes to your home or office setup, a keyboard shouldn’t be an afterthought. You want something that’s comfortable and won’t strain your wrists, but there are also a lot of decisions to make. While there are a lot of inexpensive options, you don’t want to sacrifice comfort and support for something you use for hours every day.
If your computer doesn’t have a ton of USB ports, you might want to consider a wireless keyboard. Gamers will have a different set of priorities than someone who’s using a keyboard mainly for typing. Whatever you choose, you’ll want to make sure it’s compatible with all the devices you’ll use it with.
Ergonomics are an important component of any good work or gaming setup. Be sure to factor in keyboard layouts and height, so they work with your typing style. Sound and key feel matter a lot to some people, with some preferring a clickier, responsive experience. Whatever your criteria are for a keyboard, you should find something on our list.
The RGB backlighting on theDas Keyboard 4Q doubles as a notifications platform, you can get alerts on your keyboard.
Pros: Unique alert system, two USB ports
Cons: Q software takes some getting used to
Many keyboards come with RGB backlighting, but the Das Keyboard 4Q puts it to use, letting the colors serve as notifications as reminders. The logo is dark and unobtrusive, so it looks more like a work keyboard than a gaming one, until all the lights start flashing.
The Q utility allows you to set up individual keys to light up for reminders like Google Alerts and weather forecasts. You can even customize it so that the keyboard lights up if you’re tagged on social media or blinks when it’s time to take a break and move around.
In its full review, PCMag says the Das Keyboard 4Q’s N-key rollover feature is what makes it perfect for people who need a keyboard that keeps up with them. The device packs a lot into its 18-by-6.8-inch layout. There are media controls in the top right, including a large volume knob. The switches are Cherry MX Brown, not quite as clicky as the MX Blue.
The Das Keyboard 4Q includes two USB ports and an instant sleep button, rounding out an already excellent feature set.
The best gaming keyboard
TheRazer Huntsman Elite gaming keyboard has optical switches designed for faster speed and performance.
Pros: Optical switches, discrete media controls, wrist rest is very soft
Cons: Keyboard takes up second USB port on your PC
Speed is essential for gaming keyboards, and that’s what the Razer Huntsman Elite offers with its optical switches. Instead of using metal contact leaves, it has a laser under every switch. It’s among the first gaming keyboards to feature the technology, which uses infrared light beams to detect keystroke actuation.
While the Razer Huntsman Elite is a clicky switch, the click mechanism is separate from the switch’s actuation mechanism, making this ideal for rapid tapping. The switches have their own stabilizer bars to ensure consistent switch behavior no matter which corner you press. Each switch is rated to last 100 million keystrokes, according to Razer, compared to Cherry MX’s 50 million keystrokes.
You can easily program the Razer Huntsman Elite with Razer’s Synapse software, which allows for all keys and keypress combinations to be remapped for complicated commands. This should help with players of first-person shooters as well as various esports.
Tom’s Guide raves that this keyboard is comfortable while maintaining a futuristic look, although they thought the light-up padded leather wrist rest was a little gaudy. The wrist rest magnetically attaches to the keyboard, so you don’t have to use it.
For its hefty price tag, this keyboard boasts layers of personalization options and in-came effects like underglow lighting unlike any other.
The best ergonomic keyboard
The ergonomic design of the Logitech Ergo K860 can help support your wrists and improve posture.
Pros: Terrific ergonomic design, comfortable palm rest, Bluetooth support for up to three devices
Cons: Ergonomic design takes getting used to, pricier than standard Bluetooth keyboards
Logitech’s wireless Ergo K860 is the best ergonomic keyboard we’ve used. Not only does it provide a more comfortable typing experience, it can help improve posture and alleviate wrist strain.
The keyboard rises to a slope in the middle, and the layout of the alphanumeric keys is split apart. If this is your first ergonomic keyboard, you will have to get used to the different typing position, and you’ll probably make some mistakes for a bit. This design puts you in a proper typing position, as it reduces pronation, and places your arms, neck, and shoulders in a more relaxed posture as well. Logitech says the palm rest along the bottom can reduce wrist bending by 25%. Flip-out legs can tilt the keyboard even higher if needed.
The Ergo K860 operates on two AAA batteries, which provides the keyboard with two years of power, according to Logitech. The device only connects to a computer wirelessly, either via Bluetooth or with a USB dongle that’s neatly stored beneath the keyboard.
We tested the Ergo K860 with a MacBook Pro using Bluetooth. Set-up was quick and easy, and the keyboard quickly re-pairs every time we start up the laptop, without fail. It can pair with up to three Bluetooth devices. In addition to the MacBook Pro, we paired it with an iPhone and iPad, and we seamlessly switched between three without issues.
The keyboard is very lightweight, but the unique design does require annexing a bit of table surface. The plastic makes the Ergo K860 feel deceptively cheap, but from our experience, it’s well-made.
Insider Reviews Senior Editor Les Shu tested the keyboard for several months, and he hasn’t noticed significant improvements to his sitting posture (good workplace ergonomics requires more than just changing a keyboard), but the Ergo K860 has alleviated any pain or discomfort in his wrists. This was especially noticeable when he returned to using a non-ergonomic keyboard. While it is pricey for a keyboard, he thinks the ergonomic features are well-worth the cost.
Pros: Easily share files among connected devices, soft keys for quiet typing
Cons: Circular keys may not be for everyone
If you want to turn your tablet into a computer, the Logitech K780 Multi-Device Wireless Keyboard could be the right keyboard for the job. At 6.2 by 14.9 inches and less than an inch in height, it has a low profile and fairly compact footprint. A built-in cradle holds smartphones and tablets right above the keypad. You can connect to your devices via Bluetooth or use a USB receiver to connect to a laptop or desktop.
A Tom’s Guide review noted that its circular keycaps will be a turn-off for some users, but also says Logitech’s software offers a lot to make up for that. Logitech’s Flow technology allows for file-sharing from one device to another, as long as both are connected to the keyboard via Bluetooth.
The keyboard’s customization options allow you to remap keys. The keyboard already has designated keys that allow you to switch back and forth between three connected devices. It does weight just under two pounds, so you might not want to lug it everywhere.
Pros: Good for new typists and those with visual impairments, easy to use
Cons: Large footprint, no backlighting
The Nuklz N Large Print keyboard has high-contrast keys in large, bold type that are easier to see in low or dim lighting. It’s lightweight, and the keys are soft and quiet. There aren’t a ton of features, so there’s no backlighting, for example.
The Nuklz N connects via a USB cable, so you’ll need an available port to use it. In order to make it highly visible, some keys, like delete, are abbreviated, so it may take some time to familiarize yourself with them.
The keyboard is on the large side, measuring 18 by 7 inches, and it’s 1.5 inches tall. It weighs just over a pound.
Pros: Lightweight, folds up fairly small, good battery life
Cons: Keyboard layout may be a deal breaker for some
The Ikos Bluetooth Folding keyboard is a bifold-style portable keyboard that has a tactile feel when typing. Slim and lightweight, it’s half a pound and measures 11.54 by 3.32 inches. It’s 0.47 inches thick when you fold it up.
A two-hour charge produces 80 hours of battery life, about two months on standby mode. Its case doubles as a stand for your phone or tablet, but it works remotely with devices that are about 30 feet away.
If you’re using multiple devices, this keyboard’s built-in memory feature will track and remember those connections. You can switch back and forth between three devices by toggling between slots. Because it folds up, the Ikos keyboard has a gap in the middle of the keys. That may take some getting used to when you’re typing.
Some reviewers pointed out that you’ll need a hard, flat surface to use the keyboard and noted that unfolding and folding the unit doesn’t turn it on or off; you will have to do that manually.
Cons: Uses 2 AAA batteries instead of rechargeable ones
Some people love the click and clack of a keyboard, but others will prefer the quiet of the HP Wireless Elite V2. One of the reasons this keyboard is so quiet is its scissor-style keys, which have a silent, spring-like rebound.
The full-size keyboard is 17.28 by 6.02 inches and 0.61 inches high. It can connect to up to five devices at once and has a 16-month battery life, though it runs on 2 AAA batteries you’ll have to replace. An indicator light illuminates when they’re running low.
This keyboard’s wireless connection allows you to move it around to find the right typing distance, within a 30-foot radius. There are hotkeys dedicated to volume control and other desktop features, as well as additional media playback controls.
In its review, PC World noted that the V2 responds quickly and quietly to each keystroke and is very comfortable to type on.
How to choose a keyboard
Our top pick is a great keyboard, but it won’t be right for everyone. Some people might need an ergonomic keyboard or prefer wireless options. Here are some basic features you’ll want to think about when selecting a keyboard.
What are you using it for: The first question to ask yourself is how you’ll be using your keyboard. Gamers will want responsive keyboards, while someone doing a lot of data entry won’t want a layout without a numeric keypad. Some keyboards make it easy to switch between devices, so that’s important to take into consideration if you’re looking to use yours with a laptop, phone, and tablet, for example.
Ergonomics and layout: If you find yourself with a lot of wrist pain during the day, you might get some relief with an ergonomic keyboard. These are shaped very differently from a flat keyboard. They curve upward in the middle and separate the keys into two groups. That means you’ll have to get used to a new way of typing. Folding keyboards will also split up keys. If you’re used to typing on a Macbook, you might want to look for keyboards with a similar layout or one that you can remap; the order of some keys is different for Mac and PC keyboards.
Wired or wireless: You’ll never have to worry about your keyboard suddenly running out of battery if you use a wired keyboard, but they also take up valuable port space. If your laptop doesn’t have room for something to be always plugged into it, then wireless might be right for you. You’ll want to make sure your devices are compatible with the keyboard as well.
Mechanical keyboards: Mechanical keyboards are big with gamers, because of their responsiveness. Their design does make them louder, however. The type of switch will make the sound level and feel of the key different. A mechanical key tester can give you an idea of what it’s like to type with different switches.
Introduced to MacBooks in 2016, the Touch Bar is a small touchscreen located above the number keys on MacBook Pro keyboards.
The Touch Bar was built to replace the function keys – the numbered F1 through F12 keys that come standard on most keyboards. Despite this, the Touch Bar actually has a variety of features and tools that change depending on what app you’re using.
As of this writing, the Touch Bar is only available on 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro models. However, this might change in the future.
How to use a MacBook Touch Bar
As its name suggests, Apple’s Touch Bar is activated by touch, and as such responds to gestures like tapping, swiping, and sliding. You can use these gestures to adjust the brightness and volume, activate Siri, access function keys, and more depending on the app you’re using.
For example, if you’re checking your email, you’ll see actions to reply or flag emails on the Touch Bar. Image editing apps might let you trip or crop with a touch. And a calculator will display the standard adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing symbols.
Try using different apps and watch how the Touch Bar changes to match them.
This Apple Support page shows which buttons pop up when you select a file in Finder (including Preview and Share) and when you view a picture in the Photos app (including Rotate and a slider to quickly navigate through photos).
An advantage of the Touch Bar is its ability to customize which buttons appear. For app-specific functions, you can customize the buttons to include commonly used tasks. To change your Touch Bar’s settings, open System Preferences, select “Keyboard” and the “Keyboard” submenu afterward, then choose and adjust among the variety of customizable options available for the Touch Bar.
While the buttons located in the center of the Touch Bar will change depending on the app you’re using, the Control Strip, which is located on the right side, doesn’t change. Here, you’ll find buttons to activate Siri and adjust settings like brightness and volume. To expand the Control Strip, tap the left facing arrow button.
In the expanded view of the Control Strip, you can also adjust keyboard brightness, control video or music playback (with pause, play, rewind, and fast forward buttons), and more.
The function keys
Function keys (F1 to F12) are standard on most keyboards, meaning that you’ll likely still need them.
For Macs with a Touch Bar, the function keys are accessed via the Touch Bar. To find them, press and hold the Fn key or Globe key (whichever one you have) on your keyboard.
If this doesn’t work, go to your Mac’s keyboard preferences to ensure this shortcut is enabled. You can find your keyboard preferences in the “System Preferences” app.