How to have your Touch Bar and an Esc key on the new MacBook Pro

MacBook Pro
MacBook Pro

The Touch Bar is a touch-based OLED panel that sits at the top of the latest model MacBook Pro and gives us access to system settings, as well as app tools. It replaces the row of function keys, as well as the escape key.

Instead, the escape key sits to the far left of the Touch Bar, basically where it is on a physical keyboard, but it isn't always there. When performing certain activities in some apps, the escape key is hidden. You can access it simply by clicking on your desktop screen. The escape key will reappear, along with the Control Strip and primary system controls.

You probably won't miss having a physical escape key, but if you have a strong desire to press a key instead of tapping the leftmost corner of the Touch Bar panel, or worse, having to perform two steps in order to use the escape key (click on the desktop, then tap escape), there is a solution. You can reassign the caps lock key to be used as the escape key.

How to remap the caps lock key to use as the escape key

  1. Click on the Apple menu icon in the upper left corner of the screen.
  2. Select System Preferences from the drop down menu.

Click the Apple menu, then select system preferences

  1. Click on Keyboard.
  2. Click on Modifier Keys.

Click on Keyboard, then click on Modifier Keys

  1. Click Select keyboard if you have another keyboard paired with your Mac laptop.
  2. Select the built-in keyboard (there is no reason to remap the escape key on another keyboard since it isn't going away).
  3. Click on the drop down menu next to Caps Lock.
  4. Select Escape.

Select the built-in keyboard, and then select Escape from the Caps Lock drop down menu

The caps lock key will now function as an escape key. Frankly, I use the escape key way more often than I use the caps lock key, so this is no loss for me.

Any questions?

Do you have any questions about how escape works on the Touch Bar or how to remap the escape key to the caps lock key? Let me know in the comments and I'll help you out.

Lory Gil

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).