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

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 07/12/2018:] This tip is also compatible with the new 2018 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

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: