Ultimate Catalyst Guide

How do I add TouchBar support?

released Fri, 05 Jul 2019
Swift Version 5.1


Note that in Beta 2 you need to manually import a special bridging header if you want to use touchbars. Here's how to do it.

With that out of the way, lets have a brief look at touchbars. Apple's documentation for the NSTouchBar class is fantastic and it would be a waste to try to replicate all that documentation here. Also, touchbars in Catalyst apps work just like the AppKit touchbars. So all the available NSTouchBar tutorials work just as well for your iPad app.

In brief, touchbars work as follows: Each controller in the responder chain is asked whether he has a touchbar that he wants to display via the func makeTouchBar() -> NSTouchBar? method on UIResponder (or NSResponder). The higher up items in the responder chain have priority. Within that method, you return a fully configured touchbar with a proper NSTouchBarDelegate set. The NSTouchBarDelegate allows you to configure the touchbar to your hearts contents. Here's a simple example:

Make sure to remember that touchbars only appear for objects that conform to UIResponder and are in the responder chain. A good place for this code is your UIViewController that is currently being displayed.

// Define the items we want to display in the touch bar via specific identifiers, so UIKit can track them

let MyButtonTouchBarIdentifier = NSTouchBarItem.Identifier(rawValue: \"MyButton\")

class MyViewController: UIViewController {

     override func makeTouchBar() -> NSTouchBar? {

         let touchBar = NSTouchBar()

         touchBar.delegate = self

         touchBar.defaultItemIdentifiers = [MyButtonTouchBarIdentifier,


         return touchBar


     @objc func buttonPressed(sender: NSTouchBarItem) {



extension MacSplitViewController: NSTouchBarDelegate {

     func touchBar(_ touchBar: NSTouchBar, makeItemForIdentifier identifier: NSTouchBarItem.Identifier) -> NSTouchBarItem? {

         switch identifier {

         case MyButtonTouchBarIdentifier:

             return NSButtonTouchBarItem.init(identifier: identifier,

                                              title: \"Press Me\",

                                              target: self,

                                              action: #selector(self.buttonPressed))

         default: return nil




Using Apple HIG TouchBar Images

Apple has a very nice set of default touchbar images outlined here:

  • https://developer.apple.com/design/human-interface-guidelines/macos/touch-bar/touch-bar-icons-and-images/
  • https://developer.apple.com/documentation/appkit/nstouchbaritem?language=objc

These currently can't be used in Catalyst apps (FB6312494).