The good news is that the brand new Logic Pro X 10.3 update provides super cool implementations for the Touch Bar. The bad news is that you need one of those brand new MacBook Pros that come with a Touch Bar ... or do you? In this article, I show how you can still enjoy the loveliness of Touch Bar functionality in Logic Pro X 10.3, even if you don't have a real Touch Bar (yet).
What is a Touch Bar?
In case you lived under a rock the last few month and haven't heard of a Touch Bar, it is that little strip above the keyboard on the new MacBook Pros. Not only is it multi-touch sensitive, it automatically changes its appearance to provide buttons, controls, and all types of visual interactivity depending on your current application.
Touch Bar support
An app has to be programmed to use the Touch Bar functionality, which means, it is up to the developer how to utilize it.
Although the Touch Bar was considered more of a toy when it was introduced in October 2016, this impression must have come mainly from "users" who haven't used it yet. Once you actually use it on a daily basis or with apps like Final Cut Pro X and now Logic Pro X, you will quickly realize that this is not a toy at all. Besides the coolness factor, it is quite useful with new workflows and ways to interact with your apps.
Touché - Touch Bar for Everyone
But what if you don't have a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar? Don't worry, you still can use it. Former Apple software engineer Daniel Jalkut created a nice little (free!) OS utility app "Touché" that simulates the Touch Bar (macOS 10.12 Sierra required) so you can use it on any Mac.
- Once you open the Touché app, it puts a floating window on the screen the size of the Touch Bar, which you can position anywhere on your screen.
- The window acts exactly like the real Touch Bar, displaying the same content as if you would have a physical Touch Bar on a MacBook Pro.
- The System Preferences show the same configuration parameters, so you can customize it like the real thing.
- Instead of tapping or sliding with your finger on the Touch Bar, you click or drag on the controls of the Touché Window.
- The only restriction is the multi-touch capability of the Touch Bar. With Touché, you can only click or drag one control at a time while the real Touch Bar lets you perform multi-touch gestures, something Logic has nicely implemented, i.e. playing drum pads and the musical keyboard with both hands and multiple fingers.
Here is the download link for Touché and a few other solutions to check out. For example, use your iPad as an external Touch Bar. Plenty of stuff to play with while you are saving up for the new MacBook Pro, or until Apple comes out with an external keyboard with integrated Touch Bar.
Touch Bar Configuration
First, a few configurations to setup the Touch Bar.
The System Preferences has settings to configure the Touch Bar. Because Touché makes the OS believe it sees the real thing, the settings function the same.
This is the main Parameter that you want to configure:
- Go to the Keyboard System Preferences and select the Keyboard tab.
- From the "Touch Bar shows" popup menu, select "App Controls". This utilizes the entire strip to show only the controls provided by the app that currently has key focus.
Logic's Touch Bar Navigation
The Touch Bar is not just a strip with some touch controls. Whatever you see on the Touch Bar is called a "View" and that view can change, determined by two factors, the Key Focus (what you do on the computer) and the Navigation (what you do on the Touch Bar):
- Key Focus: Whatever app (i.e. Logic) you have selected and what window (i.e. Tracks Area) or element on a window (i.e. a specific Track) is selected can change the currently displayed View, which means, what controls are available.
- Navigation: With whatever View is displayed, you have the option to navigate to different Views (which might or might not change when you switch to a different key focus).
Please note that the Touch Bar is a new thing with a new interface. You have to learn and understand the concept or you will be confused about how it switches to different Views or you don't know how to get to a specific View that you had before. The Touch Bar interface for Logic is not as "logical" as it could be, so try to follow the next few steps I demonstrate and play around with it to better understand your "way around".
Logic Pro X's Touch Bar has four Main Views:
- Smart Controls ➊
- Timeline Overview ➋
- Key Commands ➌
- Performance Views ➍
The navigation between the Main Views and other Views needs a little bit of getting used to.
- Performance View ➎: This view can have four different icons (Keyboard, Scale, Drum Pad, Audio) depending on the selected Track.
- Go To View Selector: Each of the Main Views (with the exception of the Performance View) has the esc button ➏ and a button with an icon ➐ next to it. Tapping on that button switches to the View Selector.
- View Selector ➑: The View Selector shows the buttons for the three or four Main Views. Tap on one of those buttons to switch the Touch Bar to that view ➊ ➋ ➌ ➍.
- Close View Selector: The View Selector has the button of that Main View highlighted ➒ from where you accessed this View Selector. Tapping the Close button ➓ will go back to the view of that highlighted button.
Three Logic Examples with Touch Bar
I will cover all the details of the Touch Bar implementation in Logic in my upcoming book "Logic Pro X - What's New in 10.3". Here are just three quick examples to show how you can use those Touch Bar features in Logic without the actual Touch Bar (just with the Touché utility) and still extend Logic's functionality.
If you select the Timeline Overview for the Touch Bar and place the Touché window over the Toolbar in Logic's Main Window, you can simulate a Pro Tools feature that many Logic users would like to have implemented in Logic, a Timeline Overview of your entire Project.
Here is how it works:
- Horizontal Zoom: The Touch Bar auto-zooms the Workspace horizontally to display the entire length of the Project with all its Regions.
- Vertical Zoom: The vertical zoom space is limited. If there are more Tracks in your Project that can be displayed on the Touch Bar, then the currently selected Track determines the range of Tracks that are displayed in the Timeline Overview.
- Visible Workspace: The white rectangle indicates the portion of the Project that is currently visible in the Logic Workspace.
- Playhead: The white vertical line indicates the Playhead, which moves during playback or when moving it in the Tracks Area.
- Catch Playhead: Tapping on the Touch Bar or sliding along will move the Playhead. The white rectangle only moves with it when Catch Playhead is activated in Logic.
The Key Commands View is another useful Touch Bar feature, even if you only use Touché. You can keep that strip placed anywhere on your screen and you have instant access to 8 Key Command, actually 128 when you use modifier keys.
- You can program the buttons with the new controls in the Key Commands Window.
- Buttons can display their default text or an icon (if available), or you can use your own text and even emojis.
The Audio View is one of the four Performance Views. It automatically switches to show the Audio Channel Strip that is currently selected in the Mixer or the Tracks View.
It has the following controls:
- Input Selection ➊: This button mirrors the functionality of the Input Button ➋ on the Audio Channel Strip.
- Input Gain/Meter ➌: This control is not only a mirror of the Audio Device Control ➍ of the selected Channel Strip, it provides functionality that is not possible in Logic itself, for example, control stereo inputs, separate gain meter with Clip indication.
- Record Enable Button ➎: This button mirrors the Record Enable Button ➏ on the Channel Strip.
- Input Monitoring Button ➐: This button mirrors the Input Monitoring Button ➑ on the Channel Strip.
- Volume Fader/Meter ➒: The slider mirrors the Volume Fader ➓ on the Channel Strip with the same range from -∞ to +6dB. The single line (no matter if mono or stereo) in the middle functions as a level meter that follows the same settings as the Level Meter on the Channel Strip (Pre/Post Fader, Return Time, and Scale).
Much much more ...
This was just a glimpse into the new possibilities and workflows of using the new Touch Bar. I will have a full chapter with all the details on that feature in my upcoming book "Logic Pro X - What's New in 10.3". The book (hopefully available in the next few days) will have over 140 pages with the most comprehensive coverage of all the changes and new features in this substantial Logic update. Stay tuned ...
Graphically Enhanced Manuals
I hope you found this tutorial useful. If you are interested in learning more about Logic Pro X, check out my books in my "Graphically Enhanced Manuals" series, now with the brand new release "Pro Tools | First 12 - How it Works". All books are available as PDF, printed books on Amazon and interactive multi-touch iBooks on Apple's iBooks Store.
For an up to date list of all my books in my "Graphically Enhanced Manuals (GEM)" series and all the links, go to my website.
Thanks for your time and interest,