When Apple launched the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID, Adobe were one of the first software vendors to announce support for the new Touch Bar technology, demoing Photoshop integration live onstage at the launch event.
Now that we have both the 13″ and 15″ models in stock, and Adobe have released a list of all the shortcuts that will be available on Touch Bar, we thought we’d set our designers loose on a Touch Bar MacBook Pro and see how they found using the new shortcuts.
Liana, Graphic Designer and hand model
To begin with it does feel a bit strange forcing yourself to use the Touch Bar rather than keyboard shortcuts, but I imagine it’s like when you first start using a Wacom Cintiq – once you get used to using it, it’s really useful.
The shortcuts I used most were definitely the ones to change layer properties. The brush options are a lot more intuitive on Touch Bar, as they increase and decrease in much smaller increments than they do when you use the keyboard shortcuts, so there’s a nice gradual slide that allows you to get exactly the size you want. The bar is very good at sliding, generally; each slider expands when you click on it, so if you’re changing colour options you have a nice wide range to get the exact hue and brightness you need, and you have a lot more room to edit the opacity options than you do when you edit them directly on your Wacom.
The favourites bar has a nice range of common shortcuts that you can add to your Touch Bar. Having full screen mode just a tap away is useful if your art director is hovering over you and wants a clean preview of your work. From a non-design point of view, I really liked having tiny previews of all my open tabs in Safari, which made searching for images far easier.
Jamie, Web Designer
I hadn’t used one of the new generation of keyboards before and the lack of key travel feels weird at first, but the larger key area certainly makes the keyboard easier to type on. The one complaint that I would have is that the keys are perhaps a bit too noisy for the amount of travel they have. The light touch makes me a feel like a hacker, the loud noise makes it sound like I’m mashing buttons on Street Fighter.
Touch Bar looks nice; it’s vibrant and sharp, and the matte finish allows fingers to just slide over the surface, which is nice when there are a few apps that have tabs or slides that require you to interface this way.
In Photoshop, Touch Bar initially feels a little redundant, as keyboard shortcuts can be used for a lot of the same tasks, and don’t require me to move my hands from the keyboard or move my eyes away from the screen. As time goes on though, it does have its advantages. For example, controls for brush size and opacity are easily within reach. I could imagine using a Wacom with my hand hovering over the Touch Bar, drawing with my right hand and dynamically updating the size, flow etc along the way.
There are some features that are nice with Touch Bar too. In Photoshop again, having the blending modes and layer transparency readily available is nice. I haven’t learned the keyboard shortcuts for blending modes yet, so this feels pleasant. It’s easy to see that Touch Bar would be a hit with those who aren’t privy to the dark magic of keyboard shortcuts and those used to touch screens as a primary interface.
One nice touch I did like was dialogue boxes, and that their options are readily available on the touch bar. I don’t have to move my mouse to get to the buttons to quickly dismiss pop-ups.
Thierry, Graphic Designer
I can see Touch Bar being really useful for designers who don’t use a pen tablet as part of their normal workflow. The quick button options mean the left hand can be used to adjust Touch Bar controls while you use the touchpad with your right (or vice versa for lefties).
The options that are usually stuck in Menu Options are the most useful to me. Having options like horizontal/vertical flip and new layer on the bar is a huge time saver as they’re now in easy reach and don’t require me to temporarily break my train of thought to navigate menu options. Hopefully as time goes on, the customisable options available on the bar will expand, and then it’ll be a great tool for tweaking your workspace to suit your preferences.
Tried the new Touch Bar? Let us know what you think in the comments. You can browse the new MacBook Pro range here, or get in touch with our Adobe team to update your Creative Cloud subscription on 03332 409 251. For all the latest news and reviews, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.