Frozen Mac Touch Bar? Here's how to fix it. | Cult of Mac

Frozen Mac Touch Bar? Here’s how to fix it.


To an iPad user, four USB-C ports are a luxury.
Fix a frozen Touch Bar.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Just like anything else on your MacBook Pro, the Touch Bar can freeze and become totally unresponsive. And, just like with every other frozen process on the Mac, there’s an easy way to fix it: You just have to force the Touch Bar to restart.

Today we’ll see how to fix a frozen Touch Bar so you can keep using the MacBook Pro’s best feature.

Two ways to Force Quit regular apps

The Mac Force Quit menu.
Force Quit menu.
Photo: Cult of Mac

To Force Quit a Mac app, you can right-click on it in the Dock, then hold down the Option key to turn the Quit option into Force Quit. Or you can mouse up to the Apple Menu and choose Force Quit from the list (or hold down ⌥ ⌘ Escape). This opens the Force Quit panel.

Force Quit from the Mac Dock.
Force Quit from the Dock.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Force Quit a frozen Touch Bar

But what if you want to Force Quit something other than an app? The Touch Bar has its own running process on your Mac. However, it doesn’t appear in the Dock or in the Force Quit panel. To see it, you need the Mac’s built-in Activity Monitor app.

The Force Quit panel.
The Force Quit panel.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Activity Monitor lives inside the Applications > Utilities folder. If your Touch Bar crashes, you can open Activity Monitor and use its search bar to narrow the list of running apps. Just type in “Touch Bar” and you’ll see this:

You can fix frozen Touch Bar from inside Activity Monitor.
Activity Monitor.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Next, select TouchBarServer from the list, then click on the little x icon at the top left of the window. You’ll see this panel:

Force Quit the Touch Bar with Activity Monitor.
Force Quit the Touch Bar with Activity Monitor.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Click on Force Quit, and the TouchBarServer will quit and automatically restart itself. Congratulations — you’ve fixed your problem.

Before you go, it’s worth taking a look around the Activity Monitor app. You can find out all kinds of things in here, from your Mac’s disk activity and energy usage to how much CPU% each app uses. It’s great for troubleshooting, but don’t leave it running all the time. Why? Well, if you look in the CPU panel of the app, you’ll see that Activity Monitor uses quite a lot of cycles itself.