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Question: Control Strip (Touch Bar) randomly disappears

This is going to be rather frustrating to people who are reading it because I have a tremendous lack of reasoning or proof for when/how this problem occurs but it seems to be that after roughly 15-20 minutes of use, the control strip will go completely black except for the siri icon located in the far right corner next to the touchID sensor. I would try switching applications to get it to reappear but nothing got it to show up until I went into system preferences>keyboard>customize control strip. Anyone else been seeing this issue?

MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2016), macOS Sierra (10.12.1)

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Dec 10, 2016 9:39 AM in response to Matt_Sanford In response to Matt_Sanford

I just got off the phone with Apple Support and the rep couldn't find anything in their notes related to the issue so he had me reset the SMC during startup (hold down Shift-Ctrl-Opt w/ power button for 20 seconds) and then the VRAM (hold down CMD-Opt-R-P for 20 seconds immediately after hitting power button), but I just came back to my computer after being away for about 15 minutes and the touch bar was dark all the way across.


With that said, I think I found a quicker / more convenient way to reset it moving forward. Hit the 'fn' function button in lower left of your keyboard and it'll present the the F1-F12 keys in the touch bar. As soon as you let go of the 'fn' button the touchbar reappears.

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Dec 10, 2016 8:26 AM in response to Matt_Sanford In response to Matt_Sanford

Yes, I have this EXACT same problem with my 13" MBP. I don't know if it's time-based as there appears to be no consistency as to when or why the icons disappear, but usually everything except the 'esc' button will disappear. Sometimes if I touch where the icons/buttons should be they will reappear. However, I usually I then have to do the same thing as you - go to System Preferences and tweak what the Touch Bar shows to "reset" the icons.


Out of curiosity, are you hooked up to an external monitor(s) when this happens? I have only noticed this issue when I am hooked up to dual monitors via USB-C to DVI adapters.

Dec 10, 2016 8:26 AM

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Question marked as Helpful

Dec 10, 2016 9:39 AM in response to Matt_Sanford In response to Matt_Sanford

I just got off the phone with Apple Support and the rep couldn't find anything in their notes related to the issue so he had me reset the SMC during startup (hold down Shift-Ctrl-Opt w/ power button for 20 seconds) and then the VRAM (hold down CMD-Opt-R-P for 20 seconds immediately after hitting power button), but I just came back to my computer after being away for about 15 minutes and the touch bar was dark all the way across.


With that said, I think I found a quicker / more convenient way to reset it moving forward. Hit the 'fn' function button in lower left of your keyboard and it'll present the the F1-F12 keys in the touch bar. As soon as you let go of the 'fn' button the touchbar reappears.

Dec 10, 2016 9:39 AM

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Dec 22, 2016 9:03 AM in response to ElBrenzo In response to ElBrenzo

Just to add my 5 cents: I have only seen this happen when connected to an external monitor (USB-C to DP cable) but I don't know if that's just coincidence.


The "tap the fn" key fix seems to work for me to bring the icons back.

Dec 22, 2016 9:03 AM

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Jan 12, 2017 9:43 PM in response to Alexander Ljungberg In response to Alexander Ljungberg

seems that way...although I have only just bought the LG ultra wide display, used it last night with and unplugged the MBP from it this morning, to find the missing touch bar. Mine came back on after a restart. Will have a go again tonight to see if its a persistent issue. The small issue I had was that it had trouble detecting the display, but eventually did.

Jan 12, 2017 9:43 PM

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Jan 13, 2017 3:12 AM in response to ElBrenzo In response to ElBrenzo

The "tap the fn" key fix doesn't seem to solve a disappeared escape key. This is probably because there's no change to the display for the escape key (while the others are refreshed).

I'm also encountering the issue with a connected external display, but didn't verify it yet without a display.

It seems the keys disappear after a bit of inactivity (when the keyboard backlight would also be dimmed), but are not reinstated.


I also noticed that the keys work even while they're not displayed (although they're hard to find). So it's just a display error.

Jan 13, 2017 3:12 AM

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Jan 17, 2017 2:42 PM in response to Matt_Sanford In response to Matt_Sanford

I have a Macbook Pro 2016 touch bar 15 inch.


The following things happen to me at different times:

- entire touch bar disappears; or

- all buttons appear, except the escape key; or

- only 1 1/2 buttons appear at times (the 1 1/2 buttons on the far right);

Ways to reproduce:

- Having an external hdmi monitor plugged in, then disconnecting, then putting macbook to sleep, then walking it up --> escape key missing.

- I haven't found a pattern to reproduce either:

- all the keys missing

- 1 1/2 keys missing


Hacks for showing buttons when one or more are missing:

- Shows all icons every time (but it takes a while to do): going to Settings --> Keyboard --> Customise Control Strip

- pressing on the button where it should be (but doesn't appear) makes just that button appear

- pressing function key: shows all the keys again EXCEPT they escape key.


So quickest fix is:

1. press function key

2. press where the escape key should be


However these are all hacks. There is obviously a problem here that Apple needs to look into.

Jan 17, 2017 2:42 PM

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Jan 26, 2017 8:31 AM in response to Matt_Sanford In response to Matt_Sanford

The fn key to show the 'F' buttons is a good solution. I have had this happen also, no external monitors connected. Laptop monitor turned off/sleep and so did the touchbar. When I woke it, the bar didn't come back up. I went into settings and made a change in there to have them come back up. I also noticed if I touch a spot on the bar where there should be a button, that button shows again. It's almost like it needs to refresh once you rewake the laptop.

Jan 26, 2017 8:31 AM

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Jan 27, 2017 8:27 AM in response to Matt_Sanford In response to Matt_Sanford

I have also found that this happens when I connect the MacBook Pro to an external display. However once disconnected the problem still persists until I reboot the machine. What's more is that the buttons, although not visible, are still completely responsive. Sometimes only half of the control strip will disappear or even just random individual toggles! I have to reboot my laptop at least once a day, which is serious considering I would only have to reboot my 2015 MacBook (The Super thin one), once every few months! Pressing the fn key will sometimes solve the problem but other times it won't.

Jan 27, 2017 8:27 AM

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Jan 30, 2017 2:36 PM in response to Matt_Sanford In response to Matt_Sanford

My 2016 15" MBP started doing this as well. If I tap it, that one button will return.


I use Mission Control and 2x HDMI monitors and the laptop display.


I recently changed the Touch Bar shows to Expanded Control Strip (Sys Prefs>Keyboard). Turning this back to App Controls with Control Strip resolved it, but I don't like that setting personally.


Pressing the fn key resolves the issue until it reoccurs.

Jan 30, 2017 2:36 PM

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Question: Control Strip (Touch Bar) randomly disappears