The addition of the touch bar to the MacBook Pro has been a source of controversy ever since it was introduced, with many users finding it to be detrimental to their productivity due to reasons such as having to look away from the screen to operate the touch bar, and that the physical function keys (F keys) were removed to make space for it.
As if the controversy about the usefulness of the touch bar wasn’t enough, it also turned out to be a component that has a chronic problem across many different models of the MacBook Pro, where a very bright light on the touch bar suddenly starts flickering and causes quite a disturbance to the eye.
Fortunately, in the case of the flickering problem, there is a quick fix that allows you to temporarily resolve the issue at hand without disrupting your workflow and get back to using your MacBook Pro without touch bar issues, which we will be sharing with you below.
To stop the touch bar of your MacBook Pro from flickering, launch the Activity Monitor application, locate the “TouchBar Server” and the “Control Strip” processes, and stop them by selecting them and pressing the Stop button (x icon in an octagon) located at the top of the window.
Moving forward, we will be taking a deeper dive into the process of fixing the MacBook Pro touch bar flickering problem and discussing the culprit behind the occurrence of this issue in detail to have a clearer understanding of its nature.
How to Fix MacBook Pro Touch Bar Flickering?
Since it becomes practically impossible to use the MacBook Pro when the touch bar starts flickering, as it causes a considerable level of disturbance to the eye in the process, dropping everything else and fixing the issue as quickly as possible becomes a necessity.
Below, you can find a step-by-step guide that will allow you to stop the flickering of your MacBook Pro’s touch bar immediately, allowing you to use your computer without the disturbance caused by the flickering:
- Launch the Activity Monitor application on your MacBook Pro.
- Search for the “TouchBar Server” process using the search input in the top-right corner.
- Select the “TouchBar Server” process, and stop it by clicking the Stop button on the top of the Activity Monitor Window.
- Search for the “Control Strip” process using the search input in the top-right corner.
- Select the “Control Strip” process, and stop it by clicking the Stop button on the top of the Activity Monitor Window.
Please note that this fix is only a temporary one to stop the current flickering, meaning that the touch bar of your MacBook Pro will start flickering again once it becomes inactive, requiring you to follow the steps to stop the flickering once more.
While there is no confirmed permanent fix for the MacBook Pro touch bar flickering issue, the one fix that gets mentioned often is to reset the SMC and the NVRAM/PRAM of your MacBook Pro, which is known to be helpful in some cases.
First, let’s go through the steps required to initiate the process of resetting your MacBook Pro’s SMC:
- Press and hold the Control, Left Option, and Right Shift keys on the built-in keyboard.
- Wait for ~10 seconds (while holding the keys), then press and hold the Power button.
- Hold all the keys for another 10 seconds.
- Release all the keys, and press the power button to power on your MacBook Pro.
Now, let’s take a look at the steps you will need to follow to reset the NVRAM/PRAM of your MacBook Pro:
- Power off your MacBook Pro.
- Power on your MacBook Pro and immediately press the Option, Command, P, and R keys.
- Hold the pressed keys down for ~20 seconds.
Please note that the NVRAM/PRAM resetting process will only work on Intel-based MacBook Pro computers and won’t have an effect (or be necessary) on MacBook Pros with Apple silicon.
If resetting the SMC and the NVRAM didn’t permanently solve your MacBook Pro’s touch bar flickering problem, you will need to take your laptop to Apple for a repair, as there is no other fix that you can perform on the software side for this issue.
What Causes the MacBook Pro Touch Bar Flickering Issue?
The touch bar of the MacBook Pro starting to flicker out of nowhere is definitely a strange issue, especially considering that the issue has been present for a long time now, with many distinct MacBook Pro models affected by the same problem.
Considering that there is no reliable way of permanently fixing the MacBook Pro touch bar flickering issue by making changes on the software side, the culprit behind the problem is almost certainly hardware related, with a component, such as the touch bar lights, failing over time.
While Apple resolves this problem by replacing the entire top case of the MacBook Pro, which contains the touch bar, the keyboard, the trackpad, and the speakers (sometimes the battery as well, depending on the model), DIY enthusiasts have managed to resolve the problem by only replacing the touch bar, meaning that the issue is most likely isolated to the touch bar component.
The touch bar of the MacBook Pro never really had an excellent reputation at any period since it first came out, with many users finding it to be a nuisance rather than an upgrade, and the chronic flickering problem that appears across different models of the MBP does definitely not help its case.
To summarize, you can temporarily fix the MacBook Pro touch bar flickering problem by stopping the “TouchBar Server” and the “Control Strip” processes by utilizing the Activity Monitor, which will stop the flickering from occurring until the next time the touch bar becomes inactive.
On the other hand, while resetting the SMC and the NVRAM are mentioned as potential permanent solutions to the problem, it becomes necessary to send the MacBook Pro in for repair in the majority of the cases, which usually involves the complete replacement of the top case.
Mark’s first real encounter with tech was when he had to format his computer with Windows 98 around the age of 6 to quickly get back to playing Heroes of Might and Magic III without having to send the computer in for a repair, which he strangely found to be rather enjoyable since it was a new challenge for him at the time.
While he has always been particularly interested in the software side of things, which eventually led to him becoming a software developer, he enjoys keeping up with the advancements in consumer electronics and smart home technology when he’s not busy coding.