Zooming in on the Touch Bar

We’ve already talked about how VoiceOver works with the Touch Bar on the new MacBooks, but what about low vision users? How could Apple possibly make items on such a tiny screen usable by the visually impaired? It’s called Touch Bar Zoom, and we’re going to tell you all about it.

What’s Touch Bar Zoom?

Much like Zoom on the Mac, Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch, Touch Bar Zoom magnifies elements, making them easily accessible to everyone. Since the Touch Bar is small, Apple opted to show a zoomed version on screen whenever it’s needed. Once the user has selected an option, the icons disappear from screen.

How to Enable or Disable Touch Bar Zoom

  1. Click the Apple logo in the menu bar.
  2. Click “System Preferences.”
  3. Click “Accessibility.”
  4. Click “Zoom.”
  5. Click the checkbox next to “Enable Touch Bar Zoom.”

To disable Touch Bar Zoom, follow the steps listed above, and deselect the checkbox.

Note: Touch Bar Zoom is not available while VoiceOver is running, due to conflicting gestures.

How to Use Touch Bar Zoom

To show the Touch Bar on screen, hold one finger on the Touch Bar. Note: Simply tapping it will not work.

If the version of the Touch Bar shown on screen is either too small or too large, you can adjust the zoom level. This is done by holding down the command key, and performing the pinch to zoom gesture on the Touch Bar. Just as it does on iOS, bringing the two fingers closer together (pinching) will zoom out, and spreading the fingers apart will zoom in.

How to Select Items

Holding one finger on the Touch Bar will show it on screen. Then, slide your finger to the item you wish to select. The circle surrounding it on screen will change color, and then you can lift your finger. Alternatively, you may split-tap items to select them. To do this, touch and hold an icon you wish to select, then tap the Touch Bar once with another finger.


When the new Macs were just rumors, we were concerned that low vision users would be left out in the cold. However, we really should have known better. Regardless of what accessibility features a user needs, the Touch Bar is completely accessible. We wish Touch Bar Zoom would work with VoiceOver, but we believe this is a great start. We cannot wait to get our hands on the new MacBooks!

Featured image from iMore

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