BetterTouchTool: The Touch Bar Functionality Apple Lacks

Reviews • Nov.30, 2021


Since the release of the Touch Bar for MacBooks, many users think Apple could do a better job in adding more features to it. BetterTouchTool is an app that allows you to get the most out of the Touch Bar. BetterTouchTool has always brought the tools that were lacking to Macs with a trackpad, and now it can add extra functionality and customization to MacBooks with Touch Bar too.

Let’s take a look at what it has to offer, and why this app is a must-have.

Create custom Touch Bar buttons with the BetterTouchTool

The Touch Bar on its own falls a little short of being great, but BetterTouchTool lets you customize it to suit you. You can edit the existing setup to create new functional buttons that work on unique triggers, so you can maximize work (and play!) time on your Mac.

Here’s how easy it is to create a new button using BetterTouchTool.

Once you’ve downloaded the app, setting up new buttons for the Touch Bar is a breeze. Go to BetterTouchTool’s Preferences screen, and click on the Touch Bar section.

Choose which app you want the button to apply to. Pick ‘Global’ for ‘anytime’, or for a specific app that’s running on your Mac, and click on the ‘+TouchBar Button’ option.

All you have to do next is to assign a keyboard shortcut or other trigger action to the button. It’s that simple and easy! Repeat to create new buttons.


Change Touch Bar icon size, color, and even corner radius

You can even customize icons for your Touch Bar with BetterTouchTool. You can use the app’s own icon, which is found inside the Ressources folder in the app’s package contents, or you can often find pared-down versions of many popular app icons by searching on DeviantArt.

To change the icon settings, click on ‘Advanced Configuration’, and you will see ‘TouchBar Item Customization Options’. From here you can choose the background color, the free space after the button, and whether you want to see text or just the icon on the TouchBar.


Set display rules for different occasions

If you want to reconfigure your Mac’s green window button, BetterTouchTool will help you do that too. The green window takes the current window into full-screen mode, but you don’t always want that to happen.

BetterTouchTool can configure your Mac to allow it to maximize the current window without making it full-screen. You can also set it so that you can immediately go into full-screen mode too, so you can switch between the two easily.

You can also make use of window snapping with BetterTouchTool, which is similar to the window-snapping used in Windows. When you enable snapping, you drag a window to the edges or corners of your display, and it snaps to new configurations, depending on where you drag it to.

For instance, you could have the window resize to halfscreen when it is dragged to the right edge, or maximize when dragged to the top edge. The choice is yours, and you can define window sizes when snapping, along with background colors, borders, and more.

All you have to do is create some snap areas from the ‘Window Snapping & Moving’ section in the BetterTouchTool Settings, and decide how you want the snap to look, as well as what modifier keys you want to use.


Use Touch Bar with gestures

You can create a set of time-saving custom gestures to speed up your workflow with BetterTouchTool. It’s really easy to set up the process, with BTT guiding you through creating gestures.

Start in the Device tab. Select which pointing device you want to use the gesture with. Once you’ve chosen, decide which apps you want to use the gesture in. If you want to use it in all apps, choose ‘Global’. If not, set it up for a specific app.

When you pick an app, you can then add a gesture. BetterTouchTool already has a huge library of gestures with it. These don’t currently have any action assigned to them, instead, they are gestures you can assign a function to (like a two-finger swipe, or tapping the middle of your trackpad).

You don’t have to use BetterTouchTool’s library of readymade gestures. It’s easy to create a new, unique gesture by using the drawing tool and drawing your gesture in the white part. If you like, you can really get creative, using letters of the alphabet, swirls, or checkmarks for your custom gestures!


You can get the BetterTouchTool as a standalone app for $21. It also comes as part of the Setapp subscription, and this is a value-for-money way to get your hands on some great Mac apps including CleanMyMac X, DiskDrill, ClearVPN and others. For $10 per month, Setapp gives you access to BetterTouchTool and more than 200 other curated Mac apps.

Final thoughts

These are just a few of the ways BetterTouchTool can help you make the most of your Mac’s Touch Bar. The new interface makes it much easier for non-techies to be able to create automated actions, and you are guided through steps with an interactive screen.

There is also a dedicated control panel called Apple Touch Bar in the settings. You can change the Touch Bar functions and feel here, and there are also advanced settings if you are confident you know what you are doing.

Another great feature of BetterTouchTool is that you can use all kinds of input devices to trigger your actions.This includes trackpad, Touch Bar, Magic (or ordinary) Mouse, keyboard, and iPhone, as well as Siri, so you always have control at your fingertips. If you know AppleScript, you can code custom widgets for your Touch Bar through BetterTouchTool.

We’ve just scratched the surface of BetterTouchTool here, but it’s made our Mac lives so much more efficient and easier. It’s like having a dedicated assistant by your side who can launch apps, change brightness, snap windows, and much, much more, all by using a tap or gesture.

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