At first, I thought the new MacBook Pro touch bar was actively worse than a traditional keyboard for adjusting volume or brightness. After all, with keys you can turn the volume up or down with a quick tap. From what I saw of the touch bar you needed to tap the volume button, then adjust the slider that appears. A tap, followed by a tap-and-move motion.
I was wrong. There’s a gesture that lets you adjust volume or brightness in one quick motion, though it’s hard to stumble upon if you don’t know it’s there. Just tap and hold either function in the Control Strip , then move your hand to the left or the right. The level will adjust, without you ever lifting your finger.
It’s a little weird at first, because your finger isn’t on the dial that’s being adjusted. But once you get used to this, you’ll find that it saves you time.
Is this faster than adjusting the volume or brightness with dedicated brightness keys? Some may thinks so, others may disagree. With this gesture you can quickly find exactly the level you want in one motion, as opposed to pressing a button multiple times. But the tactile feel of adjusting settings was also pretty close to a perfect system. If you’re not sold on the flexibility of the touch bar, this feature isn’t going to convert you; if you do like the touch bar, this gesture makes it even better.
This functionality only works for volume or brightness, the two buttons labelled “Sliders” by Apple when you customize the buttons on your touch bar.
This makes sense, because most of the other buttons offer toggle binaries: things you can turn on and off, things you can open or close. Keyboard brightness, the only other thing I think could work as a dial, isn’t offered as a Control Strip button; you can only adjust that in the Expanded Control Strip, which works more like the keyboard buttons of old.