How to use the Touch Bar with Windows on the MacBook Pro

Macbook Pro Touch ID
Macbook Pro Touch ID (Image credit: iMore)

By adding the Touch Bar to the latest MacBook Pro, Apple has added a way for Mac users to access all manner of tools without having to click a mouse or trackpad. Everything sits at the top of the keyboard, mere inches from where your fingers already rest. The Touch Bar is specially designed for use with Mac-based programs. But, many of us like to use both Windows and macOS on one computer and the Windows operating system relies on the function keys, which are now folded into the Touch Bar. So, what does the Touch Bar mean for Windows users on the Mac?

What the Touch Bar does when using Boot Camp with Windows

Apple's built-in utility, Boot Camp, lets you install Windows onto your Mac using a partitioned drive. When you boot up Windows via Boot Camp, the Touch Bar will display the function keys F1 - F12 and an escape key. As soon as you log into Windows, the default setting will be the function keys. It is not clear yet whether there will be further customization for the Touch Bar when you use Book Camp to log into Windows.

What the Touch Bar does when using Parallels with Windows

While Boot Camp lets you install the Windows operating system on a partitioned drive, Parallels is a third-party app that allows you to use Windows while still in macOS. Developers are able to add Touch Bar support to apps, so it is highly likely that Parallels will add a row of function keys to the Touch Bar. The company hasn't made any official announcement yet about what it will add to the Touch Bar.

What if my third-party app doesn't support the Touch Bar, but I need the function keys?

Have no fear. Apple didn't forget about the function keys, even if its own operating system doesn't really make much use of them. If you want to use F1 - F12, and the app you are using doesn't have Touch Bar support, simply press the fn key on your keyboard and the Touch Bar will display those trusty function keys for you.

Any questions?

Do you have any questions or concerns about losing the physical row of function keys on the Mac when you are booting up Windows? Put them 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).