How can I make my touch bar ALWAYS show the Volume Down, Volume Up, Brightness Down, Brightness Up buttons?

I absolutely hate having to touch the button, look down at the slider, and try to drag it into the right position.

Is it possible for me just to show these controls by default (basically the old keyboard layout)?

  • Hi Donny, thank you for choosing my answer (based on a comment below). Please accept the answer and award the bounty now that the bounty period is concluded. Thanks! Jun 15, 2017 at 18:31

7 Answers 7


Yes, you can go into System Preferences and set the default view for the Touch bar.

  1. Open the System Preferences app.
  2. Select the Keyboard option (third row, sixth item)
  3. On the first tab (also called Keyboard), locate the dropdown for "Touch Bar shows" and choose "Expanded Control Strip".

enter image description here

  • 4
    This is exactly what I was looking for. Jan 11, 2021 at 23:55
  • 2
    It's like having a car stereo that ONLY has a touch screen option for adjusting the volume, just silly. You have to look at the screen to change the volume. Annoying. Glad this option is here though.
    – teewuane
    Jun 9, 2021 at 22:12

If you don't need the application-specific touch bar controls, you can configure it to always show the expanded control strip

Expanded Control Strip

Otherwise, you could try configuring something in BetterTouchTool

  • Thanks for the answer @drewcassidy - I saw you answered first, but it took a while hunting around for where this option was, so I'm giving it to the above post with the more explicit directions
    – Donny P
    Jun 14, 2017 at 17:21

If you're interested in further customization of your Touch Bar, I'd recommend trying out BetterTouchTool (BTT). You can add additional controllers, app icons, and actions to your Touch Bar (in addition to keyboard, trackpad, and mouse customizations too).

Their licenses are reasonably priced and they offer things like student discounts, which is actually how I obtained their software.

Here's their website, if you're interested in checking it out: https://folivora.ai/


You can customize the Touch Bar to show the up and down buttons. However, if your primary goal is to be able to adjust brightness or volume in a single move (without having to open the slider) there is an awesome shortcut to do this:

Tap the button and hold, then drag side-to-side.

So for example, to adjust audio you can tap and then drag side to side to get the audio level you want. Same trick works with brightness. For me this is as fast as the old hardware keys and still keeps the controls compact when you aren't using them!


Definitely try out BetterTouchTool (BTT)! I've set up the app so that the volume can be adjusted when I slide the touch bar with 1 finger, the screen brightness can be adjusted when slide with 2 fingers, keyboard backlight can be adjusted when slide with 3 fingers. This way, I don't even have to look down and can start sliding anywhere I want on the touch bar. This also eliminates the tedious miss-triggering risk if you simply try to display the old fashion function keys. I hate that sometimes I have to light up the touch bar then use it. Setting up like what I described above also solves this issue. Everything can be adjusted without the need for lighting up the touch bar!

It does come with a price though, but I think it is well worth it!

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  • Whoa amazing. Don't see why mac can't have this sort of functionality natively.
    – apg
    Dec 18, 2022 at 18:36

Keep App Controls AND Easy Access to Sound Controls

  1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard
  2. For "Press and hold 🌐 to", select "Expand Control Strip"
  3. Now you get App Controls and with a simple key press (and hold), you get all your other controls!

Alt text


Go to Activity Monitor and stopping TouchBarServer. after that

Go to Preferences > Keyboard,


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