Despite my long history as a Mac user, I recently had an embarrassing encounter with a TouchBar MacBook Pro – the machine had frozen, and I wanted to do a force restart. While this should have been completely simple, I couldn’t work it out!

Eventually, I managed to sort it out, but thought it would be wise to share it with you, in case you end up in the same situation.

The freeze happened when upgrading the MacBook Pro to one of the macOS High Sierra betas. I went through the installation as per usual, but the MacBook Pro ended up stuck in a loop of rebooting, before showing the login screen. I shrugged, entered my login details, and everything seemed OK.

Not long after, I noticed the screen of the MacBook Pro was stuck on a loading bar. I gave it some time, but after waiting for almost 30 minutes, I got impatient and thought I’d better force reboot and try again.

All previous Macs that I’ve used in recent years have had a simple way to perform a force reboot—all you needed to do was hold down the power button and the laptop would force shut down. Since the power button had a similar function on older Mac versions (i.e. shutting down and turning on the machine), I started looking around for the MacBook Pro’s power button…

(The MacBook Pro’s (near) invisible Touch Bar power button.)

Can you see it? It wasn’t visible to me! Even after using this MacBook Pro for months, I had never bothered with the power button – the computer would wake from sleep whenever it was opened, and would quietly go back to sleep when closed. Thinking about it now, it must have been turned on at some point, but I had just forgotten about it!

The key, quite literally, is to look at the Touch Bar’s right end, where the Touch ID button is located – this Touch ID sensor is actually the power button as well. This was obvious once you know, but I had never noticed due to just thinking of it as the login key, using Touch ID.

In the end, all that was required to force reboot a MacBook Pro was to push and hold down this Touch ID button.

I think this is a clear example of where the simplistic design of Apple might have accidentally made something more confusing intially (as a suggestion, perhaps they could have added a power symbol somewhere on, or near, the Touch ID button?). The only documented hint that suggests that the Touch ID button is doubling as the power button is hidden within a support document about accessibility features of the Touch Bar.

We might just be stupid, but hopefully sharing this will help someone else avoid the trouble we had!


Do you share our shame at not knowing which button on our Mac was the power button, or maybe have run into something similar? Help us out, let us know what simple problems you’ve been stumped by!