Mac Touch ID Icon

Tech Tip: How to Force Restart a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar & 2018 MacBook Air

I have a very embarrassing admission to make: after 33 years of being a Mac user, I was completely stumped when I recently tried to force quit and restart my 2017 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. Fortunately, I was able to figure it out so I thought I’d pass along this tip to readers of the Rocket Yard who might also run into this situation. [Update: October 2018:] This tip is also compatible with the new 2018 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and the 2018 MacBook Air.

This all happened while I was upgrading the MacBook Pro to macOS 10.13 High Sierra beta 8. During the installation process, my MacBook Pro restarted several times, and at one point I was asked to log in. I did so, and then followed the prompt to log into iCloud. So far, so good.

The next time I looked at the MacBook Pro screen, it was black except for a progress bar that didn’t seem to be making any progress. I waited about a half hour, and finally decided it was time to force quit the laptop, reboot, and see if that solved the problem.

On just about every recent Mac I’ve ever owned, there’s a simple method of doing a force restart — just hold down the power button until the machine reboots. On old Macs, the power button was useful for a similar method — shutting off the Mac, and then turning it back on. So I started searching for the power button on the MacBook Pro…

The (nearly) invisible power button of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar
(The (nearly) invisible power button of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.)

Do you see it in the picture above? I didn’t. And believe it or not, in the months that I had owned the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, I had never needed to use a power button. The login screen was always there when I flipped the display up, and the MBP always went to sleep when I flipped the screen back down.

What I didn’t realize is that the Touch ID button at the far right end of the Touch Bar is actually a button — the power button. I had placed my finger on it plenty of times to log in, but never actually pushed it. All it takes to force a restart of a frozen MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is to press down on the Touch ID button until the device reboots.

This is one case where I think Apple carried its simplistic design a little bit too far. Would it have been that much of a bother to just put a small power button graphic above the Touch ID button? The only clue that the Touch ID button is also a power button is at the very bottom of this Apple support page in a discussion on Touch Bar accessibility features:

Press Touch ID Power Button

Sigh.

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Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
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Steve is the publisher of Apple World Today, a website providing news, reviews and how-tos for the world of Apple, as well as an author on The Rocket Yard. He's an avid photographer, an FAA-licensed drone pilot, and a really bad guitarist.

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228 Comments

  • Owned my MacBook Pro for over a year – first time it has frozen. Had no idea how to reboot!! Thanks so much for this simple resolution :)

  • So embarrassing- my week old 2018 mbp just went black – I had absolutely no clue how to find power/restart. Kind of rediculous. Thank you so much!!! This was extremely helpful!

  • Steve, I made some unknown move that froze Outlook and kept me from restarting my week-old MBP. Thank you for taking the time to post this VERY helpful button “reveal” and save my day.

  • Made some unknown move that froze Outlook and kept me from restarting my week-old MBP. Thank you for taking the time to post this VERY helpful button “reveal” and save my day.

    • Hi Steve!
      I’m a much more recent Mac user (about 10 years). My MBP TouchBar just had a frozen screen. Thank goodness for my phone! And Google. I had to look up how to switch off….just like you. Your post was the first I saw, I followed your tip and now it’s working again. Thanks so much!

  • Ditto. I did try pressing this button, but not for long enough. It needs the same Three to five second hold that the older power buttons did.

  • Thank you, I was on the verge of throwing my MacBook Pro out in sheer frustration when I found your article. All fixed now Bless you

  • I wish you would’ve seen how wide my eyes got when I tried pushing down on the touchID and it “clicked”. :’) Mind literally blown.

  • my fingerprint sensor is not working…so I can’t force it to shut down. Is there any other way to solve this problem…?

  • THANK YOU SO MUCH OMG. I JUST GOT MY NW MC BOOK TODAY AND IT FROZE AND I WAS SO SCARED, BUT YOUR METHOD WORKED AND IT WAS SO HELPFUL THANK YOUUUU

  • Thanks for the tip!
    And if it makes you feel any better I too have been using Apple products all my life (I STILL have a working Newton too!) and I wasn’t aware of this “power button” :-) BTW. The problem you describe here happened after I updated to 10.13.4 Cheers!

  • Apple is so confident that its OS is strong and stable enough, no crash or freeze would occur like Windows. So users do not need to know where the power button is. Good job helping Google increase search volume!

  • Thank you so much! I have only had this computer for 3 days and could not find power button when my computer froze. Sigh of relief. ☺

  • Thank you! This is the only answer that helped me.
    My stupid computer would not respond and I could not figure out how to resolve issue. Even a mouse wasn’t responsive.
    I am regretting purchase of MacBook Pro with touch pad.

  • You saved the day! Thank you so much! I was truly panicked! I have been a loyal fan for many, many years but I think Apple needs a reboot . . .

  • Thank you!! You totally saved me from throwing my MacBook Pro across the room!!! It froze at the login in screen and nothing on the touch bar was lit up.

  • Thank you! Was struggling with the same issue and I’m a Mac newbie so it’s comforting that this was non-intuitive to a seasoned user as well. Hope I remember for next time!

  • Thank you so much for this article… it really helped when I faced the exact same issue. I too was totally stumped and I have been a Mac user for 10 years. The panic that set in today when my touch bar Mac would not shut down! Where was the power button? How do I do a forced shut down?
    Fortunately after frantically searching for support on the internet (all the support articles were based on the old Macs) I came upon your article….. thank goodness. I did as you suggested and all was fine again.
    You are right…. Apple should have put a power symbol because the power button is definitely not obvious. I wonder ihow many panicking Touchbar Mac users had to go running to their local Apple Store in sheer horror?

  • you wrote, “This is one case where I think Apple carried its simplistic design a little bit too far. Would it have been that much of a bother to just put a small power button graphic above the Touch ID button?”

    Apple has carried its simplistic design WAY too far! I’m a 25 year Mac veteran who is getting REALLY tired of looking for simple operations that are hidden until I happen to mouse over some “blank” area and find a hidden command or action (got any tabs open in Safari? How would you close that tab without clicking on it to open it, and then hitting Command~W? Easy, IF you already know where the hidden button is).

    Apple built it’s reputation by being user~friendly. “It just works.” “Think Different.” Remember? But user friendliness doesn’t seem to fit with minimalist flat design, and for some reason, Apple has given up on its base. Yep, I know, it’s more profitable than ever. But can’t you make sh*tpots of money AND be user friendly?

    Yes, you can. If you want to…LOL