Previously on my MacBook Air 2013 I was able to increment/decrement screen brightness, volume and the keyboard backlight in quarter steps when pressing + and a media key. This doesn't seem to work anymore with the Touch Bar on my 2019 MacBook Pro 16" running macOS Catalina.

It seems to work for some people as can be seen from https://youtu.be/_MQFS-0eqtk and https://youtu.be/dTCbKYIqLqs, but it does not work for me. I've tried on a 2019 15" on Mojave and 2019 16" on Catalina.


Tap the arrow on the left of the system area to expand the full list of system buttons, then use the brightness increase and decrease buttons from there. (If you've removed them, you might need to go to View → Customize Touch Bar and add them back in.) Since those buttons have the exact same function as non-Touch Bar models, you can use the key combination to get the quarter-step changes.

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  • This unfortunately does not work. – ruohola Aug 6 '19 at 17:10
  • I’m running the current developer beta of macOS Catalina on my 2015 MBP, and it literally just worked using the emulated Touch Bar that Xcode provides. You’re on the page that mimics the old-school function keys, right? – Bob Aug 6 '19 at 17:26
  • Yes, on this view: venturebeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/… I am using a 2019 MBP with macOS Mojave. – ruohola Aug 6 '19 at 17:28
  • Yeah, that’s what I was on when it worked. What are you currently booted into? Is that the out-of-box setup screen? – Bob Aug 6 '19 at 17:39
  • That's not my image, just got it from internet quickly. What do you mean by booted into? – ruohola Aug 6 '19 at 17:40

The quarter step increments don't work with the Touch Bar anymore. The backlight small step increment seems to be completely gone, but it's possible to add the small step increment of the brightness and volume to the Touch Bar with BetterTouchTool:


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Quarter-step adjustments are still alive and well.

I'm running a 2019 MBP and all you have to do is expand the control strip and hold Shift and Option while toggling the desired Up or Down buttons.

Control strip minimised:

Control strip minimised

Control strip expanded:

Control strip expanded

Keep in mind that the control strip can be customised, so what I have on mine may be different to yours, but the volume and brightness up and down buttons are still available as options.

I have recorded a YouTube video to demonstrate.

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  • Does not work for me. – ruohola May 31 at 12:27
  • @ruohola have you tried it properly? I have just uploaded a recording to YouTube for you to see what I mean – jonodjlee May 31 at 12:44
  • Might work on the Touch Bar simulator, but it does not work with the real Touch Bar. – ruohola May 31 at 13:00
  • @ruohola I was using my real Touch Bar, but I had to use the simulator in the recording to demonstrate what I was doing... – jonodjlee Jun 2 at 8:14
  • This is really weird then... What Mac you have? I've tried on a 2019 15" on Mojave and 2019 16" on Catalina. – ruohola Jun 2 at 9:09

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