The 13-Inch MacBook Pro Is Gone, Taking the Touch Bar With It

While it disappeared from other MacBooks years ago, we can finally say RIP to the Touch Bar. It's all function keys, all the time now.

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops | Desktops | All-in-one PCs | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
2 min read
MacBook Touch Bar

The Touch Bar is no more.

Lost in Apple's prime-time "Scary Fast" event Monday, where the company introduced new MacBook Pro models based on its new M3 processors, was the demise of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. 

The 13-inch Pro model was always a bit of an oddball, squeezed between the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Airs and 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros. It was also the last remaining MacBook with the much-derided Touch Bar. Every MacBook now has a traditional row of physical function keys. And we are all the better for it.

I give Apple credit for taking a swing with the Touch Bar, but I'm not going to shed a tear at its funeral. My first MacBook predated the Touch Bar. My second MacBook featured the Touch Bar. My current MacBook marks a return to the classic function key row. Guess which was my least favorite MacBook?

If you said the Touch Bar model, stand up and collect your prize. I admit I was curious and perhaps even a bit excited about the Touch Bar when I first got my Touch Bar MacBook. Within days, however, the honeymoon was over, and I was ready to run back into the arms of a row of function keys. But because I'm loyal (and cheap), I stayed with my Touch Bar MacBook for four years.

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Touch bar

The Touch Bar took simple tasks and made them more complicated.

Sarah Tew

Function row > Touch Bar

The Touch Bar made my daily life in front of my MacBook a bit more of a chore. It prevented me, for instance, from blindly tapping a function key once or twice to adjust the volume or screen brightness. Instead of performing that simple maneuver, the Touch Bar forced me to look down from the display and tap and hold and slide to turn the volume down a notch. That might not seem like that big of a deal, but that's an action I perform dozens of times a day. It got old fast.

The Touch Bar not only made simple processes more complicated, but it was also distracting at times. When typing in certain apps, it would flash and blink with every keystroke. It looked like a mini fireworks display was occurring right above my fingertips when I was trying to concentrate and work.

I never found an app that made good use of the Touch Bar that might offset the number of minor annoyances I had collected about it. I had hoped it would offer assistance in navigating my photo library, but the thumbnails were so tiny on the Touch Bar that I found them useless. I also never found the controls it offered in Chrome or Safari more useful than simply navigating either browser via the MacBook's stellar touch pad. 

With the 13-inch MacBook Pro meeting its end, the Touch Bar can pull up a seat next to the butterfly keyboard and Intel processors in Apple's scrap heap of MacBook features that came and went.