How to capture screenshots of the Touch Bar on Apple's new MacBook Pro

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited November 2016
The Touch Bar input strip on new MacBook Pro models is itself a Retina Display, but it doesn't show up as a display in System Report. That's prompted Apple to create specialized support in its Grab app to enable capture of screenshots of its current status.




The Grab app was originally used to capture screenshots of the entire display, a specific window or an arbitrary selected portion. Apple hasn't publicly released the beta version of Grab that also enables a timed capture of the Touch Bar, but plans to make the tool available in a subsequent release of macOS.

Because the Touch Bar is dynamic, Grab offers to set up a 10 second timer to allow you to switch to the app you want to capture within.

As with virtually all of Apple's bundled apps, even the unreleased beta version of Grab supports Touch Bar; when you initiate a screen capture with Command Shift 4, the Touch Bar presents options to capture a Selected Portion, a Window, or the Entire Screen, and also allows you to set a location for saving the grabbed image.




This also highlights how the Touch Bar goes beyond simply offering another way to type basic keyboard shortcuts. While a variety of early reviews groused that the Touch Bar didn't impress them much because they already knew some common keyboard shortcuts, the fact is that Touch Bar can present useful options in tandem with keyboard shortcuts, and presents these options graphically so there's no need to learn every complex option available.

Touch Bar appears to function as a self contained input peripheral, isolated from the rest of the computer. It appears to run an embedded variant of iOS on Apple's new ARM-based T1 chip, which also handles security for the Touch ID sensor, using the same Secure Enclave architecture as Touch ID-enabled iOS devices.

The Touch Bar doesn't show up as an attached display, nor as a USB device, nor as part of the keyboard and trackpad. It essentially appears to be a separate computer that boots up in parallel with the Mac, enabling it to also function (at least in a limited fashion, presenting esc and 12 basic Function Keys) when the MacBook Pro hardware is booted into Windows via Boot Camp.

This design suggests that Apple could integrate its new Touch Bar into an external keyboard for use with other Mac models, including the iMac, Mac mini and Mac Pro.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,665member
    I was wondering about this. I hope there's a way I can do it with keyboard shortcuts without opening up Grab or using a timer.
  • Reply 2 of 8
    Who else remembers that the Command-Shift-4 option goes all the way back to Mac OS 1?  I don't remember which was which now, but Command-Shift-3 and -4 were used to do a screen shot and send that screen shot directly to the printer.  Command-shift-1 and -2 where used to eject disks 1 and 2.
  • Reply 3 of 8
    I'd 100% buy a USB keyboard with the touch bar - I need to replace the clear/white keyboard I got with my G5 back in 2004. It's crumb-tastic! 
  • Reply 4 of 8
    An external touch bar keyboard would be welcome. Most of the time, I am using my laptop with an external monitor and keyboard that render the built-in touch bar useless (and its costly!).
  • Reply 5 of 8
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,665member
    mscohen said:
    An external touch bar keyboard would be welcome. Most of the time, I am using my laptop with an external monitor and keyboard that render the built-in touch bar useless (and its costly!).
    If you think the built-in Touch Bar with Apple Pay and Touch ID all running off of a T1 chip that is running a version of OS X based on watchOS, just imagine what that will do to an external keyboard where the sales are already comparatively low, and where other HW will have to be beefed up to deal with the new Touch Bar. For instance, this will likely a larger battery in a thicker and heavier keyboard, as well as Bluetooh+HS so that Touch Bar data from the Mac's app can be pushed to the T1 to be displayed on the Touch Bar in a reasonable timeframe.
  • Reply 6 of 8
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,720member
    Wait. What? The touchbar runs as a separate iOS-powered computing device?? Who thought that was a great idea? Sounds wildly over-complicated.
  • Reply 7 of 8
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,162moderator
    dysamoria said:
    Wait. What? The touchbar runs as a separate iOS-powered computing device?? Who thought that was a great idea? Sounds wildly over-complicated.
    It actually makes sense from a security and functionality point of view. The other article that they linked to has more details:

    http://appleinsider.com/articles/16/10/28/examined-the-new-macbook-pro-touch-bar-and-apples-t1-authentication-chip

    Being separate from the Mac OS means that it can't be easily hacked into and it can be powered without wasting much battery life to allow turning the machine on. They also get all the multi-touch input and graphics performance from iOS devices. As the above link says, you could think of it more like an Apple Watch than an iPhone.

    Image result for apple watch s2 chip
    Image result for apple watch s2 chip

    It won't be as complex as that because it doesn't need it's own Bluetooth, Wifi, power management etc, they would build their own chip with just the parts needed. That goes some way to explaining the added cost. They are effectively bundling a $269 Apple Watch without the extra chips, battery, strap and casing.
  • Reply 8 of 8
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,162moderator
    mknelson said:
    I'd 100% buy a USB keyboard with the touch bar - I need to replace the clear/white keyboard I got with my G5 back in 2004. It's crumb-tastic! 
    This could be a reason why they delayed updates to the MP, iMac and Mini. Ideally they'd have keyboards with touch id and the touch bar for those too:

    https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-set-up-use-apple-pay-on-a-macbook-pro/

    They'll have wireless keyboards at least but they'll need to figure out how to keep the cost down because a $299 Magic Keyboard would be a bit much. $199 is about as much as they could get away with. They can absorb the cost somewhat by bundling them with the Retina iMacs and Mac Pro but not with the Mini. I'd guess they'll have a standard wireless one at $99 and a more expensive one that is bundled with new iMacs and MPs.
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