I like to keep my devices for a long time — as long as possible, actually. I do not need (nor want) a new iPhone and MacBook every year, or even every other year. (Or more!) Putting Apple’s issues aside, the company is quite good at keeping old hardware running the latest software, and generally their hardware is very high quality (except for the utter clusterfuck that was “keyboard gate”). I find it pretty easy to keep devices for 4-6 years, if they are taken care of.

Until a couple of weeks ago, I was using a 2014 13” MacBook Pro (with MagSafe, not USB-C). This was my only machine, for work and everything else. I decided to finally upgrade that 6-year-old machine with the latest model, which was recently updated. As I said, I like to keep hardware as long as possible in general. But in this case, there were a few other important reasons why I waited until now, as opposed to, say, upgrading a 5-year-old machine last year.

  1. I was absolutely not going to buy one of those shitty keyboards. (I had used them on company-owned work machines.)
  2. The 13” models remained maxed out at 16GB of RAM for a long time. My 2014 machine had 16GB of RAM, so it just didn’t feel worth it to upgrade — even if the RAM was faster, along with other spec improvements.
  3. I hated the Touch Bar and I was hoping for a model to be released without it.

With the exception of the Touch Bar (which has massively improved with a physical esc key and separate Touch ID button), these issues have finally been addressed. The shitty keyboards are gone and the 13” models can have up to 32GB of RAM. This is my first personal MacBook with a Touch Bar and I still hate it as much as I did on my old work laptops. The keyboard, however, is delightful.

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If you also miss and prefer the old function keys, consider this configuration for your Touch Bar.

Touch Bar

My Touch Bar configuration

From left to right, the Touch Bar includes: a space, screen brightness buttons, keyboard brightness buttons, music controls, mute and volume buttons, a space, screen lock button. I also have this set to be static (or “Touch Bar shows: expanded control strip”), so it never changes to include app-specific buttons. You can configure these settings in System Preferences > Keyboard.

Pro tip: you can take a screenshot of the Touch Bar with cmd-shift-6.

There are a few things to point out about this setup. First, the initial spacer in the Touch Bar is great for preventing accidental touches when reaching for the physical esc key. The other controls are almost identical to the old physical keyboard function keys (which I like), but without the “Mission Control” and “Launchpad” keys, which I think are actions better invoked via track pad gestures. Finally, I decided to add a screen lock button on the right end of the Touch Bar because it felt too empty otherwise, and the spacer to its left helps prevent accidental touches. Of all the options, screen lock felt the most useful, and it has been. It is actually very convenient to be able to lock your screen as quickly as you can unlock it with Touch ID.

This setup certainly makes me like the Touch Bar more, but I would still rather it be gone. As for the rest of this machine, it is a huge improvement over what I had and I do not have any complaints about it. It is incredibly fast and I love the new design. I hope I can keep this machine for as long as my others.