N Kaushik

How to customize your MacBook touchbar

April 04, 2021

Customizing your MacBook touchbar:

I was excited about the touchbar when I first bought my MacBook. But that excitement lasts only for a few days. It is not as good as I though, atleast for me.

For example, I am writing this blog post in a text editor and it is showing me different word suggestions while I am typing. I don’t type looking at the touchbar. Nobody does. And if I think that the current word is wrong, I will not check the touchbar to fix that.

I am listening to music and I expect the touchbar to show me the controls of the Music app. It also changes when I switch to a different App. For example, if you are using Safari to browse, it shows the tabs and you can use the touch bar to switch tabs. Overall, we can’t. customize it with any predefined keys.

Thankfully, one opensource package is available in Github to do that easily. It is called MTMR. Here is the link on Github. MTMR stands for My touchbar. My rules. I like the name more than its features :)

How to download and install MTMR:

You can download MTMR as dmg and install it or you can download it via homebrew.

  • Download the dmg file from here
  • Or open one terminal window and use brew install --cask mtmr

Once it is downloaded, you can try to open it. Apple will show one security error as it is downloaded from an unknown source. So, you need to go to settings to allow it :

  • Go to System-Preferences -> Security & Privacy and click on the open Anyway button.

Screenshot 2021-03-30 at 11.11.39 AM

It will show you one popup. Click on open and done !!

It might show you questions like where is iTune, where is Spotify etc. It will show you all apps installed in your system. Select the one that it is asking for.

Enable Accessibility:

You need to provide Accessibility after the installation. Otherwise, system functions like music buttons, escape, brightness etc. will not work.

In the Security & Privacy window, under Privacy tab, go to Accessibility and select MTMR. If this part is disabled, you might need to click on the lock button at lower left corner.

mac accessibility settings

How to use themes:

One more great feature of MTMR is that it allows you to change themes. You can even create your custom theme and share it with others.

Also, it supports gestures. For example, the default theme provides two finger slide to change the volume. You can go through the readme file to learn more on its customization options.

This repository contains different themes shared by different peoples.

Everything can be managed from a json file. Click on the MTMR icon in the statusbar, and click on Preferences to open the json file. Here, each JSON object represents configuration for one icon. For example, if I want to add one promodoro and one network speed meter, I can add the below two objects inside the array:

{ "type": "network", "width": 50, "align": "left", "bordered": false },
  { "type": "pomodoro", "align": "right", "bordered": false },

These are built-in types. You can check the readme file to check for all built-in types.

It reloads immediately while you make any change to the json file. That makes easy to test different configurations.

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