Mac sales are on a hot streak seeing the ‘three best quarters ever’ as consumers continue to upgrade their work-from-home setups

Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Apple CEO Tim Cook.

  • Tim Cook’s comments on the Mac’s success coincide with a rise in demand for the computer.
  • Apple’s Mac and iPads have boomed in the past year as remote workers seek home office improvements.
  • However, Cook confirmed on Wednesday that the chip shortage will delay Mac production.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Mac sales are on a hot streak.

“The last three quarters for Mac have been its three best quarters ever,” CEO Tim Cook said on the company’s second-quarter earnings call.

Mac quarterly sales by the numbers:

  • Q2 FY 2021: $9 billion
  • Q1 FY 2021: $8.7 billion
  • Q4 FY 2020: $9 billion

Mac sales nearly doubled in Apple’s most recent quarter compared to $5.4 billion the same time a year ago, which was just before sales began to tick up in the third-quarter of 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic began.

The Mac, iPad, and other remote work-friendly products have seen a boom during the pandemic, as people were driven into their homes. The company’s sales in 2020 were largely driven by Macs and other accessories, like Watches.

Cook also said the Mac took a “big step forward” last week when the company unveiled a redesign, which includes the company’s new M1 chip, which it began producing last year. Apple debuted a new colorful line of Mac computers at a virtual event last week.

Amid a crushing chip shortage that is sweeping the globe, Apple’s iPhone production has been unaffected. However, the production of its MacBooks and iPads has been postponed due to the semiconductor crisis.

Read more: Apple’s reportedly delaying its next Macs and iPads thanks to a global parts shortage, and it’s a bad sign for the tech industry

Sources told Nikkei that Apple has pushed its orders for components back to later this year, since the shortage is already delaying the assembly of the devices.

Cook and Apple’s chief financial officer Luca Maestri confirmed on Wednesday’s call that the chip shortage has indeed impacted MacBook and iPad production.

“It’s a combination of the shortages as well as the very, very high level of demand that we are seeing for both iPad and iMac,” Maestri said.

Cook said he estimates Apple will lose $3 billion to $4 billion in revenue because of the shortage.

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How to mirror your iPhone screen to a Mac computer with QuickTime or AirPlay

  • You can mirror your iPhone screen to a Mac with QuickTime and a Lightning to USB cable, or AirPlay and a third-party app.
  • When you mirror your iPhone to Mac with AirPlay, you need to be on the same Wi-Fi network and use a third-party app like Reflector.
  • When you use QuickTime to mirror content, you don’t need AirPlay or the same Wi-Fi network, but you do need a cable.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

One of the iPhone’s greatest assets is its connectivity. Built into Apple products are several ways to share what you’re viewing or working on from your iPhone to a Mac.

This can be useful if you want to display a photo album or app on your computer, or play video content directly from iPhone apps like Hulu.

The drawback to mirroring your iPhone to your Mac, however, is that you have to either use the QuickTime app on your Mac, which requires a wired connection, or download a third-party app, like Reflector, which uses AirPlay. Here’s how to do both.

How to mirror your iPhone to a Mac with QuickTime

1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac using your Lightning to USB cable.

2. Open QuickTime on your Mac.

3. Click on “File” in the menu bar at the top of the screen.

4. Click “New Movie Recording.”

Under “File,” click “New Movie Recording.”

5. Next to the red record button (bottom middle), click on the down arrow. Select your iPhone from the list of available devices. If it’s not there, try disconnecting and reconnecting your iPhone.

Select your iPhone from the drop-down menu to connect to it.

6. Your phone should now be fully mirrored on your computer, in the exact shape of your iPhone screen.

How to mirror your iPhone to a Mac with AirPlay

AirPlay is an Apple feature that lets you wirelessly stream content from one device to another. It’s designed for streaming from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac to an Apple TV or AirPlay-compatible smart TV.

There’s no direct way to AirPlay, or screen mirror, from an iPhone to a Mac, but you can work around that by downloading a third-party app like Reflector, and connecting both devices to the same Wi-Fi network.

To mirror your iPhone to Mac, first download Reflector on Mac. Then open the Control Center on your iPhone, click AirPlay, and select the Mac you want to mirror to.

Here’s a full step-by-step guide.

1. Download the Reflector app on your Mac, and open it.

2. You can either AirPlay content directly from an app that allows for AirPlay like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, or the NFL app, in this example. Or, you can AirPlay your entire iPhone screen by opening the Control Center.

3. If you’re AirPlaying from within an app, start playing content, like a show or movie, and hit the AirPlay symbol (it’s a rectangle with a solid triangle at the bottom) in the upper-right corner of the video.

When playing content within some apps, like Amazon Prime Video, you have the option to AirPlay the video.

If you’re AirPlaying from the Control Center, select the “Screen Mirroring” tile.

In the Control Center on your iPhone, select “Screen Mirroring.”

4. Once you’ve selected either the AirPlay symbol from within an app or “Screen Mirroring” from the Control Center, a pop-up will ask you to select a device – tap the name of your Mac.

5. Your iPhone will ask for an AirPlay Code, which will be displayed on your Mac. Type the code into the text box on your iPhone. Your iPhone content will now show up on the Reflector program on your Mac.

Your AirPlay content will appear on the computer in the exact quality it appears in on your iPhone.

How to use AirPlay on a Roku player to stream content from an Apple deviceHow to mirror your iPhone’s screen onto a TV using a Chromecast or a Chromecast TVHow to mirror your iPad’s screen onto a Roku, to watch videos and view pictures on a TV screenHow to mirror your Samsung Galaxy S10’s screen onto a Roku player for presentations, gaming, and more

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The 4 best Apple MacBook laptops in 2021 for work, general use, and students

  • Apple’s M1-powered MacBook Air is the best choice for most people.
  • But for those who need a bigger screen and better speakers, we recommend the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
  • Check out our guide to the best laptops for more buying advice.

Whether you’re a Mac or Windows fan, buying a new computer is an important decision. At the very least, a good laptop should offer the right level of performance, long battery life, and a comfortable keyboard and trackpad at a reasonable price.

For Apple users, the M1-powered MacBook Air is the best at fulfilling this criteria. Apple’s new chip enables battery life that may very well be the longest we’ve ever seen in a laptop, as well as impressively fast performance.

Of course, the MacBook Air isn’t right for everyone, which is why we also recommend the 16-inch MacBook Pro for those who need more screen space, storage, and higher-quality speakers. There are also a few reasons why Apple’s Intel-powered MacBook Pro might be a better choice, especially if your workflow involves specialized software that might not be optimized for Apple’s new chip yet.

But if you’re not in a rush, it might be worth waiting before you buy. Apple is expected to release new versions of the MacBook Pro this year, followed by a refreshed MacBook Air, according to Bloomberg. The new laptops are said to come with the next iteration of Apple’s M1 processor, improved designs, and a new version of the MagSafe charging system it used to include on its laptops.

Here are the best MacBooks you can buy:

The best MacBook overall

Apple MacBook Air 2020

The latest MacBook Air released in late 2020 gains Apple’s new M1 processor, which brings impressively fast performance and long battery life, for under $1,000, making it the best Apple laptop overall.

Pros: Fast performance, super-long battery life, much-improved camera

Cons: iPhone apps don’t add much to the experience

The MacBook Air has consistently been the go-to MacBook for most people and a solid entry-level computer. But the introduction of Apple’s M1 chip makes it even more powerful than its predecessor for the same price, solidifying its choice as our top pick.

The M1-powered MacBook Air‘s battery life alone makes it a worthwhile choice. During my testing, I was able to get more than 12 hours of use out of the MacBook Air, far longer than the roughly seven hours of usage I experienced on the Intel-powered model from early 2020. 

The M1 chip’s eight-core processor also brings notable performance gains, making tasks like photo editing and exporting large files a breeze. During my tests, it was faster than the previous Intel-powered MacBook Pro at just about everything. It also uses Apple’s image signal processor for its webcam, meaning you can expect much clearer video quality on your next Zoom call. 

Otherwise, it comes with the same sleek wedge-shaped design that’s been present on the MacBook Air line for years, as well as Apple’s much-improved Magic Keyboard. In terms of storage and memory, the MacBook Air goes up to 2TB of capacity and 16GB of RAM. It comes with two USB-C ports on all configurations. 

Laptops like the MacBook Air that are powered by Apple’s own chip can also run iPhone apps, since this chip is based on the same basic architecture as the one in the company’s smartphones. While that’s a nice perk, it’s really the performance and battery life that make Apple’s M1 stand out.

The best high-performance MacBook


The 16-inch MacBook Pro‘s powerful performance, larger screen, and high-quality speakers make it a great choice for creative professionals. 

Pros: Larger display, great keyboard, lots of configuration options, excellent speakers

Cons: Hefty upgrade prices, only four I/O ports for the size

The end of 2019 brought us the first entirely new MacBook Pro since 2016: a 16-inch version that replaces the long-standing 15.4-inch model. It was also the first laptop to get Apple’s superior new Magic Keyboard.

The 16-inch MacBook Pro has plenty to offer when it comes to performance and configuration options. Although it doesn’t run on Apple’s new M1 chip, Apple’s biggest laptop does come with up to an eight-core Intel processor, up to 64GB of memory, up to 8TB of storage, and up to 11 hours of battery life.

Those are the highest configuration options for memory and storage across Apple’s laptop lineup. Compared to the other laptops Apple sells, the 16-inch Pro also has the most selection when it comes to graphics, with the option to configure it with a variety of AMD Radeon Pro GPUs. 

But it’s not just the broader configuration options and larger size that makes this the best choice for pros. The 16-inch MacBook Pro comes with a three-microphone array and is the only Apple laptop with a six-speaker audio system, making it a better choice for media professionals that may need high-quality audio playback. The speakers can also come in handy if you’re on a lot of Zoom calls throughout the day and need a system that’s a bit louder and clearer. 

All told, the 16-inch MacBook Pro‘s bigger size, variety of configuration options, and high quality speakers are ideal for those shopping for something that isn’t quite as large and powerful as a desktop, but is closer to the desktop experience than any of Apple’s other laptops.

The best middle of the road MacBook


For anyone that needs as much power as Apple is willing to cram within a 13-inch laptop, the MacBook Pro with M1 is worth a look. 

The MacBook Air is powerful enough for everyday tasks. But the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 is better-suited for those who need more power in a laptop that’s not as big as the 16-inch. It shares many similarities with the MacBook Air; they both come in nearly identical configuration options, include the same number of ports, and have very similar screens. 

But since the MacBook Pro has a fan-powered cooling system unlike the Air, it’s probably better at maintaining high performance for longer periods of time. So if you frequently run heavy workloads that involve crunching a lot of data, for example, the Pro is probably a better bet. Another added benefit: it has slightly longer battery life than the M1-powered Air.

Those are the biggest differences between the M1-powered Pro and Air, but the former’s processor also has an extra core in its GPU at the base level compared to the Air. Its screen is also slightly brighter, and the Pro’s speakers support high dynamic range unlike the Air’s.

Like the Air, the Pro has two USB-C ports, a 720 camera that uses Apple’s image signal processor, Touch ID, and the Magic Keyboard.  

The 13-inch M1 MacBook Pro falls into a strange place in Apple’s lineup. It doesn’t have the perks that make the 16-inch Pro stand out, like a six-speaker audio system and flexible configuration options. But it also doesn’t have much that distinguishes it from the Air to justify the $300 starting price difference. 

Still, that’s exactly what makes it the right choice for buyers who find themselves in the middle. It’s a great option for those who want a bit more than what the Air has to offer along with the benefits of Apple’s M1 chip.

The best college MacBook

13 inch macbook pro 2020 magic keyboard

The best MacBook for college packs powerful performance into a compact, 13-inch laptop, but expands the connectivity options to four USB-C ports instead of two.

Pros: More storage and RAM, two extra USB-C ports for connectivity, great keyboard

Cons: Shorter battery life than M1 MacBook Pro and Air

Apple’s Intel-powered versions of the 13-inch MacBook Pro fill in the gaps when it comes to storage, memory, and connectivity compared to the M1 model. 

Unlike the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1, the Intel version offers up to 32GB of memory, up to 4TB of storage, and four USB-C ports. The M1 model, by comparison, tops out at 16GB of memory, 2TB of storage, and two USB-C ports. It’s great for those who need more connectivity and storage than the M1-powered MacBook Pro allows for, but don’t want a laptop that’s as large and expensive as the 16-inch model. 

That extra ports alone could make this model worth it for college students, who may need to charge their laptop, plug in their iPhone, and connect a hard drive containing large video projects for class all at the same time. Plus, the Intel-powered MacBook Pro may be a safer option if you rely on specific software for classwork since Apple’s M1 architecture is still new and app makers are still updating their programs for it.

The Intel-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro comes in models that run on a Core i5 or Core i7 chip, which should be more than capable of managing hefty workloads. It has the same Retina display as Apple’s M1 laptops, and also has Apple’s Magic Keyboard. Like its M1-powered sibling, the Intel-based 13-inch Pro also has speakers with high dynamic range.

Although the Intel-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro offers the right balance of performance, portability, and flexible choices that make it ideal for the college experience, there are reasons students should consider Apple’s M1 laptops, too. 

The M1 MacBook Air may be a better fit if you need a laptop for little more than writing papers and prioritize long battery life and portability over additional configuration options.

How to buy a MacBook

MacBook Pro and Air

These are the top factors to consider when purchasing a new MacBook.


To decide which MacBook is right for you, it’s important to understand what you intend to use it for. If you need a powerful machine for processing images, editing video, or handling complex data, the MacBook Pro is a better choice. 

Apple’s MacBook Pro models, particularly the 13-inch Intel-powered one with four ports and the 16-inch MacBook Pro, are upgradeable to 32GB of memory, while the less expensive M1 MacBook Pro, Intel-powered MacBook Pro with two ports, and M1-powered MacBook Air only come with up to 16GB of memory.

Even if you don’t need that much memory, a MacBook Pro model is still the best pick if performance is your top priority. For example, although the M1 MacBook Pro and MacBook Air are very similar, the MacBook Pro has a slight edge when it comes to performance since it has a fan-powered cooling system and an extra graphics core in its processor at the base level.

Battery life

If battery life matters the most, go for the M1 MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. Apple’s custom chip brings unprecedented battery life to its laptops, with the MacBook Air lasting for up to 18 hours according to Apple’s estimates, and the MacBook Pro lasting for 20 hours. Apple’s Intel-powered laptops, by comparison, are only estimated to get between 10-12 hours of battery life.


Storage is also critical when it comes to picking out a new laptop. If you need the most space you can possibly get in a MacBook, you’ll want to consider Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro, which is configurable up to 8TB. The 13-inch Intel-powered MacBook Pro with four ports is a close second, since you can order it with up to 4TB of storage.

Apple’s other current laptops, including the M1 MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, are only configurable up to 2TB of storage.


Looking for a larger-sized laptop for getting work done? The 16-inch MacBook Pro is your best bet. It’s the only Apple laptop that comes in a size bigger than 13 inches, making it the right pick if you want a laptop that’s more ideal for a desktop-like setup rather than portability. 

If you want the most compact Apple laptop, check out the MacBook Air. Like most of Apple’s MacBook Pro laptops, the Air has a 13-inch screen. But it’s slightly lighter at 2.8 pounds, while the MacBook Pros weigh 3 pounds or more.

Check out our guide to the best USB-C hubs you’ll need for your Mac

hootoo USB-C hub

The best USB-C hubs you can buy

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How to connect a Magic Keyboard to your Mac so you can type wirelessly

business professional using desktop mac computer typing keyboard
It’s easy to connect a Magic Keyboard to any Mac computer.

  • You can connect a Magic Keyboard to your Mac through Bluetooth or using the Lightning port and charging cable.
  • The first time you pair your devices, you’ll need to use the latter method, along with a Lightning-to-USB (or USB-C) cable, to create a connection, then turn on Bluetooth.
  • You may also need to get an adapter for the Lightning port method, depending on the computer you have.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Whether you’re using a Mac or MacBook, the Magic Keyboard can be a valuable tool for getting things done.

Here’s what you need to do to connect the keyboard to your computer so that you can start using it.

How to properly clean any Mac computer’s keyboard25 essential Mac computer keyboard shortcuts to help streamline your workHow to connect your AirPods to a Mac computer, whether or not you have a paired iPhoneMacBook Touch Bar: The special touchscreens built into MacBook Pro models, explained

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Lawsuit over Apple’s faulty MacBook butterfly keyboards gets class-action status in California

Macbook Pro
  • A judge approved a class-action lawsuit against Apple for the defective butterfly keyboards.
  • Since 2015, the butterfly design has been widely criticized for its “sticky” keys.
  • Apple discontinued the butterfly keyboard last year and replaced it with its Magic Keyboard.

A California judge has approved a class-action lawsuit brought against Apple for the company’s faulty MacBook keyboards known as the butterfly keyboard design.

According to the suit, “Apple noticed that customers were returning the butterfly-equipped MacBook at a higher rate than predecessor products.” The company began to modify the design to address customer concerns, but the butterfly keyboard was still used on MacBook models through 2019.

Customers in California, New York, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Washington, or Michigan are eligible to join in the class-action suit. Qualifying products include:

  • 2015 MacBook
  • 2016 MacBook, MacBook Pro
  • 2017 MacBook, MacBook Pro
  • 2018 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air
  • 2019 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air

The class-action suit excludes those who own the 16-inch MacBook Pro released in November 2019.

The butterfly keyboard design has been widely criticized by consumers since its launch in 2015. Customers have complained of having issues with the keys sticking together, the keyboard’s inability to work when pressing certain keys, discomfort when using the slim design, and overall issues with the keyboard’s ability to function properly.

In 2018, John Gruber, a well-known Apple blogger, even went as far to call the keyboards the “worst products in Apple history.”

Apple initially told MacBook users to keep the keyboards clean with compressed air to address technical issues. However, in 2019 the company issued a formal apology for the trouble that its keyboards had been causing. Soon after, Apple began offering free repair services and issuing refunds for people who had been paying for the keyboards upkeep.

In 2020, Apple discontinued the butterfly keyboard design and announced that its Magic Keyboard would be available across Apple’s entire laptop lineup.

In the press release announcing the new MacBook Pro last year, Tom Boger, Apple’s senior director of Mac and iPad product marketing, called it “the best typing experience ever on a Mac notebook.”

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Apple’s latest computers are being targeted by a new type of malware – and 30,000 machines are already infected

apple m1 chip
Apple’s M1 chip is the target of a new type of malware.

In November 2020, Apple unveiled a sleight of new computers that were powered by the company’s first-ever in-house silicon: The Apple M1 chip.

By early 2021, it looks like Apple’s line of new computers has already been breached by a malicious set of software nicknamed “Silver Sparrow.” Just shy of 30,000 of Apple’s new computers have already been infected, according to the security firm Red Canary, primarily in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Germany.

The infected machines range from the Mac Mini desktop to the latest version of Apple’s laptops. Both the latest MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro are powered by M1 chips.

Notably, security researchers have yet to observe the Silver Sparrow malware actually doing anything harmful. 

“Though we haven’t observed Silver Sparrow delivering additional malicious payloads yet,” Tony Lambert, an analyst at Red Canary intelligence, wrote in a blog post. “Its forward-looking M1 chip compatibility, global reach, relatively high infection rate, and operational maturity suggest Silver Sparrow is a reasonably serious threat, uniquely positioned to deliver a potentially impactful payload at a moment’s notice.”

Though viruses are uncommon on Apple’s computers, a variety of other malicious software impacts Macs. The best way to protect yourself is to use free software from companies like Malwarebytes, which scans your computer and quarantines harmful software.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (, or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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Why does my Mac’s mouse keep disappearing? How to fix a mouse cursor that won’t stay on the screen

using mac
It’s easy to find a mouse cursor that’s disappeared.

  • If the mouse keeps disappearing on your Mac, make sure that it’s connected, and the cursor isn’t too small.
  • You can quickly find your cursor by shaking your Mac’s mouse, which will cause the cursor to suddenly grow larger.
  • Though rare, a constantly disappearing mouse could also signal an issue with an app or your Mac’s memory.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

A disappearing cursor or mouse pointer can be a frustrating time-waster. The good news is that while there are several reasons why you might not be able to find your cursor, there are also easy ways to bring it back.

If your Mac’s mouse cursor has a habit of going missing, here are the most common ways to get it back. 

How to troubleshoot when your mouse keeps disappearing on a Mac

Quickly shake your mouse

When troubleshooting a problem like this, where there are several different explanations, it’s best to start with the simplest solution.

If you can’t see your mouse pointer, try shaking your physical mouse – do this by moving it left and right across your mousepad quickly. 

If you do it quick enough, your mouse cursor will blow up in size until you stop shaking. It’s hard to miss, but you may need to do it a few times before you find it.

This feature should be enabled by default, but if it’s not, you can enable it:

1. Click the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your screen, and select “System Preferences.”

2. In the menu that appears, click “Accessibility.”

3. Click “Display” in the sidebar.

4. Check off the “Shake mouse pointer to locate” option.

Make your cursor bigger

If you’re having trouble tracking your mouse as it moves, it might mean you need to make the cursor bigger permanently. Luckily, you can do just that.

1. Click the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your screen, and select “System Preferences.”

2. In the menu that appears, click “Accessibility.”

3. Click “Display” in the sidebar.

4. Use the “Cursor size” slider to make your cursor bigger. The farther to the right it is, the bigger it’ll be.

Screen Shot 2021 02 03 at 2.40.26 PM
Use System Preferences to make your mouse bigger temporarily or permanently.

Check that your mouse is working

If your mouse isn’t working, your cursor won’t appear at all. 

If you’re using a wireless mouse, turn your mouse off and replace its batteries, or charge it. Once you do, turn it back on and reconnect it.

If you’re using a USB mouse, disconnect and reconnect it.

If neither of these methods work, disconnect your mouse and restart your computer, then reconnect.

Screen Shot 2021 02 03 at 2.51.07 PM
If you see this in your “Mouse” menu, there’s no mouse connected.

Change or restart apps

It’s possible the app you are currently using is suppressing the mouse. Sometimes this happens intentionally, like with certain video apps, but it might also be a bug or a glitch. 

Press Command + Tab to switch to a different app and try moving the mouse again. If you think it’s a bug with a specific app, restart the app.

Make sure it’s not on a different monitor

This might seem obvious, but it’s often the culprit: If you have more than one monitor connected to your Mac, it’s possible the mouse is on a different display and not where you expect it. 

This is most likely if your monitors are misconfigured so you can’t drag the mouse pointer from one monitor to the next. 

monitors office setup
If your monitors are on the wrong sides, it’s easy to lose track of your mouse.

Reset your NVRAM

If your mouse is still missing, your Mac’s NVRAM (nonvolatile random-access memory) might be corrupted. Resetting this memory will restore your mouse (and probably fix other bugs you’re having).

Don’t worry – this won’t delete any of your files or personal data.

To do this:

1. Turn off your Mac computer. 

2. When you turn it back on, immediately press Option + Command + R + P. 

apple keyboard nvram
You’ll have to press Option + Command + R + P.

3. Hold these keys down for about 20 seconds. You can release the keys after the second startup sound; or, if your computer is a recent model with the T2 security chip, after the Apple logo appears and disappears for the second time.

Let your computer start up again normally, and the issue should be fixed.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

Read the original article on Business Insider

MacBook Touch Bar: The special touchscreens built into MacBook Pro models, explained

MacBook Pro Touch Bar
The Touch Bar is only available on the high-end MacBook Pro models.

  • The MacBook Touch Bar is a thin touchscreen above the number keys on MacBook Pro keyboards that offers versatile functionality.
  • To use a Mac’s Touch Bar and its library of digital icons, you can tap, swipe, and slide along the bar. 
  • Some Touch Bar buttons change depending on the app you’re using, while others remain constant.
  • You can open your Mac’s System Preferences menu to change some of the Touch Bar’s settings.
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

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).

apple macbook pro touch bar
Apps have specific Touch Bar commands.

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.

And if something appears on the Touch Bar that you want to save for later, you can take a screenshot of just the Touch Bar.

The Control Strip

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. 

Macbook Pro with touch bar
Once you get used to it, the Touch Bar is easy to use.

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.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

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5 ways to lock a Mac computer to keep your files secure

Macbook Air
There are many ways to lock a Mac computer.

  • There are many options when it comes to locking a Mac, from simply closing the lid to keyboard shortcuts. 
  • You’ll need to set up a password for your Mac before you can properly lock it.
  • Once you have a password, you’ll need to set your computer’s sleep and wake settings to control how often you need to log into your locked Mac with a password.
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference page for more stories.

Out of all the measures you should take to protect your digital privacy, locking a device might be the most basic, but it can surely be the most effective.

Whether you’re at school, an office, or even at home, locking your Mac – even if you step away just for a moment – is a no-brainer. Just think of all the sensitive information that’s just a few clicks away: Security codes, work documents, financial statements, all of your social accounts, and more.

There are several ways you can lock your Mac, which we outline below. But before you can do that, you’ll want to set up a password for your computer. Here’s everything you need to know.

Setting up a password on Mac

In order to lock your Mac, you’ll need to first set up a password. This password will be required for both logging into your Mac as well as approving changes to your computer.

1. Click the Apple icon, located in the top-left corner of your screen and select “System Preferences.”

2. Click “Security and Privacy” 

3. In the General tab, check the box that says “Require password.” You can also set the timing of the password, from “immediately” up to “8 hours.” It’s important to choose “immediately” if you want your computer to automatically lock when it goes to sleep or screensaver mode. 

set password security privacy
Choosing “immediately” gives you the best protection.

We should also note that clicking “Advanced” in the lower-right hand corner of the window allows you to specify how long your computer can be idle before it automatically logs out and requires a password to get back in. This is an ideal last line of defense against would-be intruders.

Once your password is set, you’ll be able to lock your Mac in several different ways – the best method depends on your habits and preferences, and if you typically use your computer in a private or public setting.

Closing the lid

If you’re working on a MacBook, you can simply close the lid. This by far the easiest method, but only works if you’ve set the computer to “immediately” lock when you set up your password. 

Apple menu bar

apple menu bar lock screen
Using the Apple menu bar is another easy way to lock your computer.

Another simple way to lock your Mac is from the Apple icon in the menu bar. From the Apple icon dropdown menu, click on “Lock Screen.”

Using keyboard shortcuts

You can easily lock your Mac from your keyboard:

  • Press Control + Command + Q: This shortcut will take you directly to the lock screen. 
  • Press Control + Shift + Power button: This shortcut will turn your displays off only – background tasks, like music, will continue. 
  • Press Command + Option + Power button:  This shortcut will put your computer into sleep mode.

Note: If you’re using an older Mac with a media eject button, press the Eject button in place of the Power button. 

Using Hot Corners

If you prefer locking your screen with a flick of the wrist, you can set a shortcut so your screen goes into screensaver mode when you move your pointer to a certain corner of the screen. This feature is called Hot Corners, and here’s how to set it up:

1. Click the Apple icon. From the dropdown menu, click “System Preferences.”

lock screen desktop screensavers
Hot Corners can be accessed from the “Desktop & Screen Saver” menu.

2. Click “Desktop & Screen Saver”

lock screen hot corners
Click into the Screen Saver tab to access Hot Corners.

3. In the window that pops up, navigate to the “Screen Saver” tab, then click “Hot Corners.”

lock screen hot corners choose
Choose the corner you want to use.

4. Click the pop-up menu for the corner you want to use, and choose “Start Screen Saver,” then click “OK.” Now, whenever you move the cursor to the corner selected, your computer will enter screensaver mode.

Using the Mac Touch Bar

If you have a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, you can customize it to include a “Screen Lock” icon.

1. Click the Apple icon and open System Preferences. 

lock screen touch bar keyboard
Navigate to the “Keyboard” in System Preferences.

2. Click “Keyboard.”

touch bar control strip
You can rearrange what shows up in your Touch Bar here.

3. From the Keyboard menu, click “Customize Control Strip.”

4. An icon menu will pop up from the bottom of your screen. Find the “Screen Lock” icon and drag it into the touch bar. You can arrange the buttons any way you like.

lock screen touch bar
Drag the “Screen Lock” icon down into your Touch Bar.

5. Once complete, click “Done.” You’ll now be able to lock your screen via the Touch Bar.

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