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How to Force Restart MacBook Pro With Touch Bar & MacBook Air

macOS Touch ID Preference Icon

I have a very embarrassing admission to make: after 33 years of being a Mac user, I was completely stumped when I recently tried to force quit and restart my 2017 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. Fortunately, I was able to figure it out, so I thought I’d pass along this tip to readers of the Rocket Yard who might also run into this situation.

Update: March 2, 2021 – This tip also applies to 2018, 2019, 2020 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 MacBook Air With Touch ID models.

This all happened while I was upgrading the MacBook Pro to macOS 10.13 High Sierra beta 8. During the installation process, my MacBook Pro restarted several times, and at one point, I was asked to log in. I did so and then followed the prompt to log into iCloud. So far, so good.

The next time I looked at the MacBook Pro screen, it was black except for a progress bar that didn’t seem to be making any progress. I waited about a half-hour and finally decided it was time to force quit the laptop, reboot, and see if that solved the problem.

On just about every recent Mac I’ve ever owned, there’s a simple method of doing a force restart — just hold down the power button until the machine reboots. On old Macs, the power button was useful for a similar method — shutting off the Mac and then turning it back on. So I started searching for the power button on the MacBook Pro…

The (nearly) invisible power button of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar
The (nearly) invisible power button of the 2017 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

Do you see it in the picture above?

I didn’t. And believe it or not, in the months that I had owned the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, I had never needed to use a power button. The login screen was always there when I flipped the display up, and the MBP always went to sleep when I flipped the screen back down.


Force Restart

What I didn’t realize is that the Touch ID button at the far right end of the Touch Bar is actually a button – the power button. I had placed my finger on it plenty of times to log in but never actually pushed it. All it takes to force a restart of a frozen MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is to press down on the Touch ID button until the device reboots.

This is one case where I think Apple carried its simplistic design a little bit too far. Would it have been that much of a bother to just put a small power button graphic above the Touch ID button? The only clue that the Touch ID button is also a power button is at the very bottom of this Apple support page in a discussion on Touch Bar accessibility features:

Press Touch ID Power Button

*Sigh*

Originally posted on July 12, 2018



Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Contributing Author
Steve has been writing about Apple products since 1986, starting on a bulletin board system, creating the first of his many Apple-related websites in 1994, joining the staff of The Unofficial Apple Weblog in 2008, and founding Apple World Today in 2015. He’s semi-retired, loves to camp and take photos, and is an FAA-licensed drone pilot.
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248 Comments

  • Really?! I can’t believe it has been staring at me with a smirk for two years! Ugh, thank you so much! I was flipping out because my computer was, nothing was responding during/after an upgrade. Thank you so much! Have since signed up lol

  • HELP. I am a novice with a MacBook Pro that appears to be frozen. Absolutely Nothing moves. I cannot send nor receive anything. I’ve tried every suggested idea online on how to restart in safe mode or any mode just so I can go back to work. Over and over again I have tried to restart. Should I just throw in the towel and take it into the Apple store here in Atlanta?

  • That’s nice, ideally. My 2016 15” MacBook Pro cursor was stuck on wake when I opened the clamshell. Think it was Command-Shift-W that let me log out. Tab got me to the shutdown icon. Space bar activated. I’ve had a very slow pinwheel the past 30 minutes. Power button ineffective.

    3 months ago dropped machine off at Apple Store for new battery. Then 2 weeks later demanded $700 because something else unspecified was broken. Eventually contacted someone who could tell me the touch sensor was broken. It was not before Apple doused my Mac with disinfectants. Ordered return I repaired. Apple would not put battery in unless I ask so paid for touch sensor they broke. Machine works fine but for swollen battery and fingerprint reader. Power button was working but not now.

    So now I have disconnected power and hopefully the battery will be dead by morning.

  • Thank you very much for this! I was completely mystified by an unruly MacBook until I read it and signed up for your newsletter because of it (although I’ve also bought several OWC products over the years). It never would have occurred to me that that little red square did anything but scan your fingerprint… and I think you’re right, Apple got a little too clever here.

  • Thanks for this invaluable info! I too dint know the touch was actually a button! Thanks thanks thanks from New Delhi India

  • The title is:
    HOW TO FORCE RESTART MACBOOK PRO WITH TOUCH BAR & MACBOOK AIR

    Do you mean any MacBook Air? Otherwise it could be (or similar):
    HOW TO FORCE RESTART MACBOOK PRO WITH TOUCH BAR & MACBOOK AIR WITH TOUCH ID
    or
    HOW TO FORCE RESTART MACBOOK MODELS WITH TOUCH BAR LIKE MACBOOK PRO & TOUCH ID LIKE MACBOOK AIR

    • Yes, this is true. We had to massage the title for design considerations and SEO purposes. Just another of the many editorial decisions we have to make every day. :-)

  • I am tech savvy and a bonafide Mac’er. And like to think of myself as reasonably intelligent, lol. So I of course went to the fingerprint button as well. But yup, I missed it too. Actually “push” it. Aaaah! Easy. A quick symbol by their design team would have made all the difference–so major feedback to them. But to you Steve, a million thank you’s!

  • Thanks Steve, it was completely frozen and I didn’t know there was a power button at the very end of the touch bar……agreed, Apple should make it clearer by a symbol..!

  • Thank you so much, Steve! I’m a Millennial and this stumped me too, till you saved the day! Much appreciated.

  • Thank you! I’ve had Apple/Mac computers since the 80s, but I recently bought my first one with a Touch Bar. When my laptop froze, I was at a loss. I even tried touching the Touch ID button, but it wasn’t until I read your post that I knew to press and hold it. It worked! Eternally grateful for the asssist.

  • Hi,

    Thank you I felt dumb aswell. I touched the button but never came to my mind it was actually a push button!

  • You just saved me! I have been trying to restart my Mac since 2 hours wondering why isn’t it restarting. There’s a button on the Touch ID ‍♂️‍♂️‍♂️ Who would have thought about that!!!!!

  • Awesome. That helped me big time .. i never knew. Computer froze and i jad no way of turning it off for a hard reboot

  • OMG thank you. I’ve had my new MacBook Pro nearly a year and had no clue how to force quit when it froze today,

  • Thank you so so much! I had spent hours and tried everything but this. So simple but I had no idea. Thanks again.

  • Thank you!

    I am using my mac for over a year and I didn’t know that touch bar is actually a physical button!!! You saved me!

  • You just saved me from a complete meltdown—enormous thanks. Finding no esc button to hold down with control option I was randomly pressing every thing having no idea there was a shut down ‘button’ at the right end of the dark bar. Thank goodness you smart people share!

  • This was super helpful!!! Had no idea how to force restart. Felt like a dope because I didn’t see the power button either. Thanks for the great resource!

  • In the same boat – well described and now my frozen screen has departed. Agreed that what should be intuitive is quite disguised.

  • There used to be a MUCH easier and better way to force reboot a Mac….ctrl-cmd-powerkey…instant reboot. Holding down the power key for 10 seconds does in fact force shutdown the Mac, and you then have to press it again to start it up again. Waste of 10+ seconds IMO. I want the old key combo back (that only just disappeared on this POS touchbar Mac. I’ve owned a Mac continuously and exclusively since September 1984 when I got my first original 128K Mac, and, IMO, this touchbar one is the worst one I’ve ever had.

  • Hi! Like you I’ve been using Mac computers since the mid -80es and have never been so embarrassed, when I had to beg my youngest son for help, when my 2 weeks old MacBook Pro froze. I knew there was a way to lock it up but how? There was no start button but of course I could have read the manual but as a mac owner you normally can do without it!
    But my son found your article and then . . . .3 seconds, and I was going strong again, thank you!

  • THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU who’d have thought to press the Touch ID spot!!! Yay for you and sharing this!!!! Hooray

  • Thank you for the tip. My new MacBook Pro froze when opening my browser and I was at a loss also as to how to get it to re-boot without a power button. I followed your advice and it worked like a charm!

  • So the so-called usability experts in the industry have no knowledge of the concept of affordance?

    Very nearly tossed this P.O.S. out the window, and missed a meeting because of it. But oh, the design is oh-so-simplistic!

  • Wow. I would not have thought of this. Now I know it it is easy.
    Thanks for the tip. I needed it today when reboot kept on showing the progress icon

  • Thank you SO much! I’ve been pulling out my hair because everywhere says use your power button but never tells you WHERE it is! Thank you Thank you!!

  • Wow I literally feel so dumb. I didn’t know you could do that. My Mac was showing a black screen and it wouldn’t turn on so I looked through dozens of websites on how to fix it but this one helped a lot.

  • Thank you!!!

    Catalina upgrade on my Macbook Pro 2018, close the lid, get home from work, open the lid and the touchpad and keyboard are completely unresponsive.

    Logged in using the Touch ID button on the Touch Bar just to find a bluetooth discovery dialog saying that it kept trying and failing to connect my external keyboard and mouse!

    Nevar have, and never thought to actually press the Touch ID button!

    Again, Thank you!!! :)

  • Thank you!! Just been sat at my MacBook Pro which has frozen and just whirring/ so can’t go to system preferences – nor is the Touch Bar appearing and I was totally baffled- how on earth do I just turn the thing off!
    Apple really are quite crazy with their designs..

  • OH MY GOD!
    I was just resting my finger on that fricking button for the last half hour!!
    Thank you so much, you cured my black screen of death.

  • THANK YOU!! The power button thing threw me for a wild loop!! I couldn’t find it after being a Mac person for twenty years either!!!

  • Hot Damn – it works! LOL Just held that button down and my MacBook Pro is once again up and running! Thanks a lot. (plan B was to call Apple support) Bookmarked your website on my toolbar!

  • Thank you! You saved me! I have owned Macs forever – and I could not, for the life of me, figure this one out. You are a champion! Love my Mac but sometimes I think it should come with flashing neon instructions on every button

  • This explanation saved my life. I just purchased this laptop a month ago, it froze on me.. definitely Apple should explain that the ON/OFF button to reboot
    is right there in our fingertips.
    Thank God all is back to normal now!

  • Thank you Steve! You also saved me a lot of time! I read elsewhere about using Option, Command and Touch ID to force quit the MBP. BUT the advice didn’t say to Press Down on the Touch ID! Had no idea that it was also a mechanical button, until I pressed it harder.

  • THank you Steve. Your humility saved me a trip to the apple store today. I am no novice wither, but could not for the life of me restar my new MacBook Pro. Only lost 1 hour instead of the better part of the day, thanks to you !

  • Thank you, my screen was completely grey for some odd reason and I got scared thinking it was a virus but this really helped me fix it. I was about to go to the apple store to see if I needed a new one. This blog was very helpful and I thank you for that.

  • Usability has been at the bottom of Apple’s priority list (if it hasn’t fallen completely off) for years now, ever since the sidebar lost its color and custom icons. A goth sensibility has taken over the macOS, usability be damned. This is just another case in point. And, no, most people don’t read the manual. After all, a Mac just works—until it doesn’t.

  • “Would it have been that much of a bother to just put a small power button graphic above the Touch ID button?”

    Apple’s graphic designers have finally achieved minimalistic perfection — you’ll find it printed in the exact same shade of silvery-gray as the background surface. /sarc

    Every Apple artiste should be forced to spend a month in a telephone support facility, asking senior citizens to read them the serial numbers of their unbootable machines.

  • God bless you! I was just faced with this exact problem and could not figure it out. I googled it on my iPhone. Found your article. I was holding my finger on that touch place but I was not pushing down on it. Thank you!!

  • Purchased my MacBook Pro and never needed to reboot. Never thought about “On – Off” button until I read this article. Thank you for this “heads up” information.

  • I went thru the same discovery process this week when I appeared to be locked up and had not noticed for last year plus, that I had no idea where the power button was. Once I finally noticed that the button existed, I just held it down until the restart occurred. This is really a good testimony of how reliable the laptop is!

    I’m 76 and have had apples around since the original Apple II (not a plus model either). Seems like it had 4 digit serial number that began with a zero. I had problems with the original mother board and had to replace it with new mother board with a plus prom on it.

  • Thank you!! I’ve been staring at my keyboard for 30 minutes, feeling like an idiot, trying to figure this out!!

  • It is a very inconspicuous power button indeed – Your blog certainly helped me unfreeze my macbook pro:) Thank you!

  • I was in Mac App Store and my MacBook Pro froze. The cursor moved but all else was frozen. I had been having trouble typing for a week. Words became jumbled and page would jump up or down to other topics (Facebook).
    Computer is squirrely.

  • If I have any problems with my laptop are usually go on the Internet but I could not do that because all I had was a black screen. Thank you so much for sharing that information. says:

    OMG, I could just kiss you! I have been pressing everything and going a little crazy because I thought I would have to make a trip all the way to the Apple Store to see what was wrong with my MacBook Pro. If I have any problems with my laptop are usually go on the Internet but I could not do that because all I had was a black screen. Thank you so much for sharing that information.

    • Then how did you come here to find the answer as this page is on the same internet where you’d normally turn, is it not? ; )

  • Very useful post. Like you, I have been using a Mac for over 3 decades and never had a problem finding the “on-off” button. Could not find it on the 2018 MacBook Pro when I needed it. Thanks!

  • OMG, I have been using macbook pro 2018 for months and though that it was just a fingerprint sensor (or camera)… Never occurred to me that it was a button that you one could actually press!

  • OMG! Finding this blog saved me from a trip to the Genius Bar. Apple Help Line couldn’t solve the black screen problem this morning. Figuring out the location of the power button solves all. Many thanks!

  • I had a chuckle reading this post. I found out, in one of my struggles to reboot, because I had installed software that took over my machine, that all I had to do was to turn off and turn back on again using the power button. Needless to say, I was very relieved and pleasantly satisfied.

  • This solved my problem! I did not realize it was a button either but when I pushed on it as you recommended it reset and all was well. Thanks for the insight.

  • My coworker was in complete distress and also did not realize that the touch bar was actually the power button, or button! Thank you!

  • I can not reboot my Mac book pro , I sign in , then the task bar goes to 100% and stays they but does not complete it cycle , can you advise

  • Do you know what to do when that does not work? I have been pushing and holding the button down all morning. Track pad is dead and black screen staring at me.

  • I was seconds from making a Genius Bar appointment because I thought my Mac was dead. I had no idea that was the on button. Thank you SO much!!!!

  • Super helpful, thanks! Came up at the top of my search responses too not buried three pages down in some apple support log

  • OMG! You saved me from
    pulling out all my hair! Same issue, sams status: have owned macs since the floppy disk days. Many thanks!!!

  • Hallelujah… this saved me. I was on the verge of a panic because the same thing happened to me but I couldn’t find anything on the newest version of the MacBook Pro and was had just bought the device

  • So glad I found this post! Staring at black screen of death paralysed with the search for the power button

  • Steve, Went to Apple support page first to resolve the problem- not a word about the power “button” (typical for Apple). Your article saved my day. Well done! Thank you!

  • THANK YOU Was on Chat with Apple for about 30 minutes failed to resolve the issue (I didn’t understand I had to press the button) Read this article and got it in 30 seconds again thank you very much

  • Omf thank u so much xd I’m having a problem with my new mac and I was panicking where and why there is no power button xd tnx for this!

  • Thank you so much! This really saved me, I had no idea that button was there and I was panicking. You’re a real hero

  • Thank you! I had a similar problem.
    My MAC was frozen displaying only a charging icon. I never noticed the button either!!

  • Why couldn’t you just say “it’s the Touch ID button”? I had scan your useless backstory just to get a simple answer

  • I too have been an Apple Computer user and advocate for many, many years (remember connecting floppy drives with ribbon cables?) and couldn’t figure out how to force my MacBook Pro to shu down. Thank goodness I found your very helpful post. Thanks.

  • Thanks a lot for the tip.
    This information was very useful and even I didn’t realise there is power button on touch pad.
    Appreciate for your proactively helping others to solve the problem .

  • OMG! Thank you so much. I would never have discovered the power button without you. And I desperately needed it.

  • Thank you and thank you! My new 2018 Macbook Air woke from sleep with a grey pattern on the screen and I didn’t know how to force it to restart! Luckily, when I closed the lid again and picked it up, it started correctly. But this is invaluable information.

  • You are a life saver!!!! I was in a panic already! Thanks You shared this useful tips!

    Thanks so much.

    Gerico

  • Oh my gosh! Thank you!
    I was going crazy when my MacBook Pro just froze in the office and I had a ton of work to do before my boss got in. :)
    I never noticed that button all the way to the right either!

  • lol…I couldn’t stop laughing at myself after reading this article to find the power button.
    THIS MAKES ME LOVE APPLE the more. ! lol.

  • OMG this post saved us from a terribly frustrating situation. The power button was absolutely invisible to us – we never would have figured it out. Really poor design feature, Apple – looks cool, not functional.

  • I had same issue, same to same. This article was very helpful. Came to know that Touch ID and power button are same.

  • I had a similar freeze problem with my shiny new 2018 MBP. I called Apple and the support person herself had no idea where the power button was…! She had to relay me to her “supervisor” (who knew about the secret button.) Truly absurd; clearly a flaw in planning/design! On a side note, it seems, reading these comments, that many freezing issues are related to Mac interface with MS Office. I have also frozen w/ my recently installed Word for Mac (2019). Nuts to these developers and their expensive, buggy software!

  • Omigsh. Thank you. Have been stuck mid ‘restart’ for about half an hour. I never knew the Touch ID pad was also a button. God send!

  • OMG I didn’t know I could press the touch ID button hahaha, my mbp got discharged and wasn’t responding to any key press, lid closing, opening, unplug, wait, plug back in, tap the power button (yeah, tap it), press any keys. I was trying to go through the steps to reset the smc but I couldn’t find the power button haha, when you mentioned it I just pressed it and it turned on, no need to reset the smc. You’re a life saver :D

  • THANK YOU!! I did know about that button, but I didn’t realize that I needed to truly hold it down until the Mac restarted – I held it down for over 20 seconds, and YAY – back on track now!!!

  • THANKS! Never needed it until today. Reason: Microsoft Excel froze everything, even the restart.
    And I couldn’t find a power button… been using Macs since the 80’.

  • Thank you indeed. I tried to download on a hard drive my MacBook air and upload it to my new MacBook Pro and all I have is cold. So I appreciate knowing how to restart it. I still have a gray screen

  • Thank you very much from Spain! You saved my day! I agree that Apple went way too far in his simplistic design.

  • Why Apple!? Why?!? Thank you for the tip! I was losing my mind searching for the power button after months of owning this laptop, and after years of owning all things Apple. Why is this power button so discrete!

  • Hi Steve! Your tip to push down the touch pad saved my life! I just bought my MacBook Pro 18 and had the black screen with useless bar. Thank you!!! I was able to reboot!

  • Owned my MacBook Pro for over a year – first time it has frozen. Had no idea how to reboot!! Thanks so much for this simple resolution :)

  • So embarrassing- my week old 2018 mbp just went black – I had absolutely no clue how to find power/restart. Kind of rediculous. Thank you so much!!! This was extremely helpful!

  • Steve, I made some unknown move that froze Outlook and kept me from restarting my week-old MBP. Thank you for taking the time to post this VERY helpful button “reveal” and save my day.

  • Made some unknown move that froze Outlook and kept me from restarting my week-old MBP. Thank you for taking the time to post this VERY helpful button “reveal” and save my day.

    • Hi Steve!
      I’m a much more recent Mac user (about 10 years). My MBP TouchBar just had a frozen screen. Thank goodness for my phone! And Google. I had to look up how to switch off….just like you. Your post was the first I saw, I followed your tip and now it’s working again. Thanks so much!

  • Ditto. I did try pressing this button, but not for long enough. It needs the same Three to five second hold that the older power buttons did.

  • Thank you, I was on the verge of throwing my MacBook Pro out in sheer frustration when I found your article. All fixed now Bless you

  • I wish you would’ve seen how wide my eyes got when I tried pushing down on the touchID and it “clicked”. :’) Mind literally blown.

  • my fingerprint sensor is not working…so I can’t force it to shut down. Is there any other way to solve this problem…?

  • THANK YOU SO MUCH OMG. I JUST GOT MY NW MC BOOK TODAY AND IT FROZE AND I WAS SO SCARED, BUT YOUR METHOD WORKED AND IT WAS SO HELPFUL THANK YOUUUU

  • Thanks for the tip!
    And if it makes you feel any better I too have been using Apple products all my life (I STILL have a working Newton too!) and I wasn’t aware of this “power button” :-) BTW. The problem you describe here happened after I updated to 10.13.4 Cheers!

  • Apple is so confident that its OS is strong and stable enough, no crash or freeze would occur like Windows. So users do not need to know where the power button is. Good job helping Google increase search volume!

  • Thank you so much! I have only had this computer for 3 days and could not find power button when my computer froze. Sigh of relief. ☺

  • Thank you! This is the only answer that helped me.
    My stupid computer would not respond and I could not figure out how to resolve issue. Even a mouse wasn’t responsive.
    I am regretting purchase of MacBook Pro with touch pad.

  • Thank you for that!!!! I didn’t realise this either until now when I was desperately trying to force restart my Mac!!

  • You saved the day! Thank you so much! I was truly panicked! I have been a loyal fan for many, many years but I think Apple needs a reboot . . .

  • Thank you!! You totally saved me from throwing my MacBook Pro across the room!!! It froze at the login in screen and nothing on the touch bar was lit up.

  • Thank you! Was struggling with the same issue and I’m a Mac newbie so it’s comforting that this was non-intuitive to a seasoned user as well. Hope I remember for next time!

  • Thank you so much for this article… it really helped when I faced the exact same issue. I too was totally stumped and I have been a Mac user for 10 years. The panic that set in today when my touch bar Mac would not shut down! Where was the power button? How do I do a forced shut down?
    Fortunately after frantically searching for support on the internet (all the support articles were based on the old Macs) I came upon your article….. thank goodness. I did as you suggested and all was fine again.
    You are right…. Apple should have put a power symbol because the power button is definitely not obvious. I wonder ihow many panicking Touchbar Mac users had to go running to their local Apple Store in sheer horror?

  • you wrote, “This is one case where I think Apple carried its simplistic design a little bit too far. Would it have been that much of a bother to just put a small power button graphic above the Touch ID button?”

    Apple has carried its simplistic design WAY too far! I’m a 25 year Mac veteran who is getting REALLY tired of looking for simple operations that are hidden until I happen to mouse over some “blank” area and find a hidden command or action (got any tabs open in Safari? How would you close that tab without clicking on it to open it, and then hitting Command~W? Easy, IF you already know where the hidden button is).

    Apple built it’s reputation by being user~friendly. “It just works.” “Think Different.” Remember? But user friendliness doesn’t seem to fit with minimalist flat design, and for some reason, Apple has given up on its base. Yep, I know, it’s more profitable than ever. But can’t you make sh*tpots of money AND be user friendly?

    Yes, you can. If you want to…LOL