Touch Bar Support in Parallels Desktop 13

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Throughout the 13 versions of Parallels Desktop® for Mac, we have often brought cool features of macOS® or Apple® hardware to Windows. For example, we made Mac® gestures work in Windows applications in Parallels Desktop 7, and in Parallels Desktop 8 we brought Retina® display support to Windows 7 and Windows 8 (and later to Windows 10 when it was released).

In Parallels Desktop 13, we have brought an Apple feature to Windows: Touch Bar™ support. In this blog post, I’ll describe how to use Touch Bar with Windows applications. I’ll show you how to customize the Touch Bar buttons for almost any Windows application, and describe how Parallels engineers made the Touch Bar work with Windows applications in a follow-on blog post.

Touch Bar Fundamentals

The Touch Bar is a tiny Retina display right above the keyboard of the MacBook Pro®. The Touch Bar displays contextually dependent buttons for the forefront Mac application.

It is slightly difficult to show the Touch Bar in a screenshot, since it is actually a second display. So in my demos of Touch Bar, and in this blog post, I will use a great little free utility, Touché, which shows the Touch Bar on the main display. (See Figure 1.) In Figure 1, you can see the Touch Bar buttons for the Preview application. These buttons include clockwise and counterclockwise rotation, and flip horizontal and flip vertical. When you select a portion of the image, the Touch Bar buttons change to include several selection tools, the smart lasso, and the “instant alpha” tool. (See Figure 2.) The changing of buttons depending on the forefront application and the state of that application is the most important aspect of Touch Bar.

Touch Bar Parallels Desktop 13

(Figure 1)

Touch Bar Parallels Desktop 13

(Figure 2)

Currently, Touch Bar is only available on the MacBook Pro, but several Apple rumor sites have speculated that it will appear in future Apple products.

Touch Bar Support in Parallels Desktop 13

The Touch Bar is an important Apple innovation in hardware and software—and in Parallels Desktop 13, we bring Touch Bar support to Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, and a number of Windows applications. For simplicity’s sake, I will use Windows 10 for all the remaining figures in this blog post.

When no application is in the forefront of Windows 10, the Touch Bar shows the applications in the Windows Taskbar. (See Figure 3.) Our reasoning here is that if an application is important enough to warrant a place in the Taskbar, that application is important enough to be placed in the Touch Bar. In Figure 3, you can see the following Touch Bar buttons: escape (a default button that is usually present in the Touch Bar), Cortana, Task Viewer, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Microsoft OneNote, Parallels® Toolbox for Windows, Google Chrome™, Windows Settings, Notification Center, and the Mac controls for brightness, audio, and Siri®.

Touch Bar Parallels Desktop 13

(Figure 3)

When PowerPoint 2016 is the forefront application in Windows, the Touch Bar changes to display the PowerPoint buttons, as defined in Parallels Desktop 13: escape, undo, redo, bold, italicize, and underline; the text justification buttons (align left, align center, align right, and justify); start slide show from the beginning, and start slideshow from the current slide; and finally, the Mac controls (as before). (See Figure 4. The PowerPoint file shown is in simplified Chinese, because I am in Beijing right now on the Asia press tour for Parallels Desktop 13.)

Touch Bar Parallels Desktop 13

(Figure 4)

Parallels Desktop 13 has Touch Bar buttons defined for the following applications and utilities:

Office 2016 Applications:

Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint — Often with multiple Touch Bar sets, depending on the context

Windows Desktop:

Taskbar-pinned elements

File Explorer, including File Open and Save As settings

Many Browsers:

Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Vivaldi

Figure 5 shows several of the Touch Bar button sets built into Parallels Desktop 13.

Touch Bar Parallels Desktop 13

(Figure 5)

What do you need to do to enable Touch Bar support in Parallels Desktop 13? Nothing at all—it’s is automatically enabled on a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

Don’t see the applications you use the most in Windows in the above list? Stay tuned for a follow-up blog post describing how you can define your own Touch Bar button set for a Windows application, or change the pre-defined buttons for the applications listed above. This post will also describe how the Parallels engineers made the Touch Bar work with Windows applications.

For more information, you can read Advanced Touch Bar Customization With Parallels Desktop. Let us know in the comments how you’re using the Touch Bar features in Parallels Desktop 13!

Kurt has been a Mac developer since before the Mac came out. Today he is the Senior Product Manager at Parallels where he works on both Parallels Desktop for Mac and Parallels Access. Prior to Parallels, he was the Senior Mac Evangelist in the Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU) at Microsoft Corp. Kurt is the author of three books and has lectured internationally on object-oriented programming, UI design, and virtualization. Kurt is also a Microsoft Office for Mac and iOS Accredited Support Professional for 2014 and 2015. Outside of work, Kurt has been a fencer for many years, has four times been a member of the US team at the world championships, and has also been the coach of the US team: http://www.naginata.org.