Restore your Macbook Pro’s TouchBar soft ‘Esc’ key if it turns unresponsive (hung / struck)

It’s very rare that I either ‘Restart’ or ‘Shutdown’ my Macbook Pro. Most often, I just opt ‘Sleep’.

Since I do not reboot my Mac often, there are cases where I have found the TouchBar strip to turn unresponsive. One such instance occurred today as soon as I woke up my Mac. The soft Esc key on the TouchBar was unresponsive. Since it isn’t a physical key, there is nothing much I could do other than hitting it multiple times akin to a child!

I remembered that the TouchBar on the Macbook Pro runs on a dedicated ARM processor and a customized version of iOS. So, could I reboot (or force reboot) or restore or refresh it?

The answer is yes. There are few things we could do:

  1. We could Quit or Force Quite the Touch Bar Agent via the Activity Monitor or through the terminal, using the command: pkill "Touch Bar Agent".
  2. Refresh just the Control Strip, fire up the terminal and execute the command: killall ControlStrip.

It turns out that that soft Esc key on the TouchBar is part of the Control Strip. Therefore, the first option listed above did not fix my problem. But, the second option of refreshing the Control Strip fixed the problem.

In summary: if any of the soft buttons on your Macbook Pro’s TouchBar turn unresponsive, refresh the Control Strip using the command: killall ControlStrip.


  1. Is there a way to restart the Touch Bar on MacBook Pro
  2. MacBook Pro Touch Bar stuck? Learn how to unstick it
  3. The new MacBook Pro’s biggest secret? It runs iOS on an ARM chip
  4. MacBook Pro’s new Touch Bar is powered by iOS
  5. Everything you need to know about the Touch Bar for MacBook Pro

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