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macOS Human Interface Guidelines

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Interaction

Accessibility

macOS offers extensive accessibility features for users with vision loss, hearing loss, and other disabilities. Like standard interface elements, controls in the Touch Bar can be made accessible with very little effort.

Provide alternative text labels for controls. Alternative text labels aren’t visible in the Touch Bar, but they let VoiceOver audibly describe controls, making invocation and navigation easier for people with visual impairments.

Add customization labels to all user-configurable controls. VoiceOver uses these labels to audibly describe controls on the customization screen. For related guidance, see Customization.

Customization

Many apps let users add, remove, and rearrange controls in the Touch Bar to match their individual working style.

In general, allow customization. You can’t always anticipate how people will use your app. Provide defaults for important and commonly used functions, but let users make adjustments, if desired, to meet their unique needs.

Full-Screen and Focused-Content Apps

Apps running in full-screen mode offer a distraction-free working environment. Toolbars and other controls are often hidden and revealed only when the user calls for them, such as by moving the pointer to the top of the screen. Some apps also hide controls on the main screen to increase focus on content. The controls are hidden, for example, when the user plays a movie in QuickTime Player or a slideshow in Photos. By displaying controls in the Touch Bar, users can access common functions directly, without needing to move the pointer or see controls superimposed on their content.

Provide relevant and commonly used controls. When controls are hidden on the main screen, the Touch Bar may include the only visible controls. These controls should be useful and relevant to the content the user sees on the main screen.

Gestures

People can interact with the Touch Bar using the following gestures:

Tap. Activates a control, such as a button. Selects an item, such as an emoji, a color, or a segmented control segment.

Touch and hold. Initiates a secondary action on a control, such as a button. For example, whereas tapping the Flag button when Mail is active adds a flag to a message, touching and holding the Flag button displays a modal overlay that lets you choose a flag color.

Horizontal swipe (pan). Moves an element, such as a slider, from side-to-side. Navigates through content, such as a list of dates or a group of photos in a scrubber.

Multitouch. Although the Touch Bar can respond to touches from multiple fingers, such as a pinch, multitouch gestures can be cumbersome and should be used sparingly.