Is the touch bar not working on your Mac when you try and make changes? Is the OLED display not lighting up at all?

Issues with Apple’s touch bar will transpire if you have damaged the hardware of your laptop through water spillage, or the macOS on your device is outdated.

Simply restarting your Mac, and erasing the touch bar cache on your device will help fix this feature from not functioning properly.

With this easy to follow guide, we will go through all the reasons why your touch bar may not be working, as well as provide you with four simple fixes that you will be able to execute.

Why is My Mac Touch Bar Not Working?

Touch bar not working

Why is my Apple touch bar not working?

Have you recently updated your Mac OS to the Big Sur version? It has been recorded that the Mac touch bar is not working after an update has been completed on your device. This is because the software update contains faulty files that get downloaded onto your Apple. 

If you have not updated your Mac OS, your touch bar is not working for the following reasons;

Reason 1. Mac Low Disk Space

Your touch bar can become unresponsive if your Macbook is running low on disk space. This is caused when your system’s resources get depleted due to a large number of programs running simultaneously.

This can also be due to a build-up of cache files from the standard usage of the touch bar.

Reason 2. Water Damage

If you have spilt a liquid on your Mac device, this could be why your touch bar is not working.

The water will seep through into the internal components of your computer and eat away at the hardware.

This will result in your Mac’s OLED display bar to stop functioning properly.

Reason 3. General Mac Software Glitch

Sometimes, your Apple device will incur a general software error caused by general use.

This does not mean there is a specific issue with your Mac. You may have unintentionally downloaded corrupted files onto your device through the use of an application.

Reason 4. Outdated Mac OS

Even though your touch bar not working can be caused by updating your Mac device, leaving your operating system on an outdated version can also be the cause for the Mac OLED display to stop working.

Reason 5. Mac Hardware Issue

Your Mac device may have an internal hardware issue that is preventing your bar from working.

Have you recently dropped your laptop? If there is a loose component or a broken piece of hardware, you will experience issues with your Mac.

How to Fix Touch Bar Not Working

Touch bar not working

How to fix Mac touch bar not working

If your touch bar is not working after you have updated your Mac OS, you can fix this error by rebooting your Mac to help get rid of any faulty files currently downloaded on your device. Restart your Apple by selecting the Apple logo at the top of your screen and choosing ‘Restart’.

Other methods that will help fix your touch bar not working include;

Fix 1. Force Quit Applications on Mac

If your Mac is currently low on disk space you can force quit out of applications that are active on your device to free up space.

This method is also beneficial if any of the programs running on your Apple device are being problematic.

Step 1. Open the Apple Menu

Step 2. Select ‘Force Quit’

Step 3. Go through all the current applications and click on ‘Force Quit’

Restart your Mac to ensure all the applications data is erased.

Fix 2. Refresh Touch Bar Mac

You can refresh the touch bar on your Mac.

This will aid in getting rid of any faults within the OLED’s display unit.

Step 1. Access the Applications section on your Mac and open ‘Utilities’

Step 2. On the Black screen, insert the command: pkill “Touch Bar Agent”

Step 3. Press the ‘Return’ button

This will refresh your touch bar, and reinitialise a connection.

Fix 3. Clear Touch Bar Cache

Erasing the built-up cache will help stop the touch bar from getting stuck.

Step 1. Open your ‘Finder’ and access ‘Location’

Step 2. Now, follow ~/Library/Preferences/

Step 3. Search the file; apple.touch bar.agent.plist 

Step 4. Once found, move it into your trash

Step 5. Now find the cache folder;  ~/Library/Caches/and move it into trash

Once you have done this, restart your Mac.

Fix 4. Update Mac OS

If you are making use of an outdated operating system, this can interfere with your touch bar working properly.

Update your macOS to ensure you are on the latest version. Once your system has been overridden with the newest software, reboot your device and test your touch bar.

How to Change Touch Bar Settings on Mac

Touch bar not working

Photo by Mia Baker on Unsplash

The settings you have configured on your Apple device for your touch bar could be the reason why the OLED display is not working. Have you enabled the control strip setting? If not, your touch bar will appear blank, and you will be unable to make use of the feature.

How to Enable Touch Bar on Mac

Step 1. Access ‘System Preferences’

Step 2. Select ‘Keyboard’

Step 3. You should see a dropdown available from ‘Touch Bar Shows’

Step 4. Make sure ‘Show Control Strip’ is turned on

Step 5. Check that ‘App Controls’ has been selected

Once these preferences have been set, your touch bar should now successfully display the correct options.

Note, you can click on ‘Customize Control Strip’ to edit what options get shown on your touch bar display. You will be able to add, delete and rearrange your chosen options.

(Fun Fact; Every Apple iPhone advert that gets played will show the time as 09:41 am. This is the exact time Steve Jobs released the device back in June 2007).

Why is My Touch Bar Not Lighting Up?

Touch bar not working

Your touch bar will not light up if there has been a temporary software error on your device. This can transpire through downloading faulty files, or your Mac was restarted in error.

You can fix your touch bar from not lighting up by completing one, or a few of the following solutions;

If none of these methods works for you, you may need to contact Apple support.


With this extensive guide, we hope you now understand why your touch bar was not working, and that at least one of the easy fixes supplied was the solution to this issue on your Apple device.

If you are still experiencing problems with your touch bar not working on your MacBook, we recommend you contact Apple directly for them to assist you further.

You can follow the steps provided on the online Apple support page.

(Quiz Time; What year was the first iPhone released? Complete our online form with your details, and answer in the comments box).