Microsoft announced Touch Bar support with much fanfare back in October 2016. Over 3 months later and paying customers are still waiting.
There’s been lot of talk about this feature including web sites with ‘tips’ on using Office with the Touch Bar without noting that it’s not got into ‘insider’ beta testing yet.
New Macbook Pro’s have a ‘Touch Bar’ above the main keyboard and it will work with Office 2016 for Mac soon. Understandably, there’s plenty of unhappy Macbook Pro customers wondering if their MS Office is broken.
It’s the old Microsoft trick. Announce something, often with the present tense and without noting that the ‘big thing’ isn’t publicly available yet. It’s clear that the October 2016 announcement happened while Microsoft was still working on Touch Bar support.
The good news is that Touch Bar support is now available to Office 2016 for Mac Insiders who have chosen the Fast or Slow Track. version 15.31 (170207) have it. Eventually the feature will trickle down to all Office 365 subscribers using the Office 2016 for Mac software.
The first public release of Touch Bar support does NOT include Outlook for Mac. An important fact that Microsoft has left out of it’s Insider Track announcements.
When pressed, Microsoft admits that Outlook doesn’t support the Touch Bar. The company says it will be added to a future update with no timeline for that happening.
The Touch Bar is a strip of touch sensitive display above the physical keyboard. Programs can put the most common task as virtual buttons on the Bar. The buttons change according to the app and what you’re doing.
Here’s what you’ll be able to see in Office 2016 for Mac with images supplied by Microsoft.
Here’s the Touch Bar in Focus View
What you’ll see in the formula editing mode
The buttons can do more than just on/off. In PowerPoint for Mac the rotate button can be used to adjust the angle of an option.
As noted above, Microsoft has withheld Outlook’s Touch Bar support for the moment.
The touch bar changes according to the task. Composing an email has a button to add recent documents as either a link or attachment. Here’s the Bar for a Skype call.