Why I hate MacBook Pro 2019 13 Inch

Written on September 7, 2021
Final update: On Oct 8th, the Display went poof and I had to take it to an Apple Support. There, I learned that some of the Macbooks of this particular model have bad battery and bad keyboard, and replacing both the top case (with the battery) and keyboard will fix this. So after a few days, I got the Macbook back with replaced hardware, and I have not faced any issue ever since.

I will admit that I have never been a fan of the Apple Eco-System. Well, I love the iPad, and combined with the iPad pencil it is awesome for research, annotation, taking notes, and every conceivable thing you can think of that you want to do on a tablet.

However, my relation with MacBook Pro 2019 13 inch is not that good. Allow me to be more specific: The OSX itself is good (Except Preview, a core software, is buggy and sucks for PDF). It is an excellent balance between Linux and Windows in terms of offering software and services. Like, most of the software available for Windows is also offered for OSX, and its terminal/libraries work similarly to Linux (at least from my understanding). I have several specifics complaints regarding the hardware though.

The Keyboard sucks

There is no “if, else, but, however,” in the entire universe that can justify the introduction of Butterfly keyboard thing (an example article about this by the Verge). It sucks in terms of feeling when you type, and it is too … fragile. I have been using a keyboard cover from day 1 because I have seen that some MacBooks of the same model simply stopped working because of a dust particle that got under one key.

The Touch bar Sucks

Well, it has its uses. I like to use it for changing volume, brightness, annotation color - all those fancy things that you can use touch bar. Except when the touch bar is buggy. Arbitrarily, the touch bar disappears. Here is the fun part though:

Ludicrous Touch bar Bug

When the touch bar bugs out and disappears, so do the Esc button and the entire group of media keys / Fn keys. Running something and want to move focus away from it? No Esc Button for you buddy. Want to change brightness? Tough luck! You can not unless you do it from the top taskbar thing. Want to use Fn Keys or Media keys? Find some external keyboard, because no way you can do it (unless you use an onscreen keyboard maybe?)

Surely Restarting MacBook will solve this?

Nope. Period.

Update your OSX?

I have installed the latest updates. As of writing this, I am using Big Sur - 11.5.2, which is the latest version, today.

What about SMC reset? NVRAM reset?

Based on my personal experience, those may or may not work. MacBook Pro has a mind of its own, I tell you.

How about following these commands I just googled for you?

Here is the fun part: You will find the following 3 commands on the Internet offered to magically fix the touch bar bug:

# command 1
sudo pkill "Touch Bar agent"

# command 2
sudo killall ControlStrip

# command 3
sudo pkill TouchBarServer

Here is the issue though:

You won’t be able to find Touch Bar Agent or anything similar in the running list of processes when it crashes. You can not kill a process that’s already killed. To confirm, I checked the Preferences > Keyboard. When the bug happens the following 3 items also disappear: a) Touch Bar shows …, b) Show Control Strip, and c) Press and Hold Fn key to ….

So.. there. You are completely at the mercy of the MacBook pro when the touch bar bug happens.

What triggers this?

I have absolutely no idea. I noticed that it happens after a) disconnecting external display, or b) disconnecting air display with iPad, or 3) waking up from Sleep.

In other words, the cause is random/unknown/not faithfully reproducible. Yet, here I am after experiencing it several times in the last few weeks.

Possible Solution(s) - Maybe?

How about starting TouchBarServer manually when it crashes?

That’s an excellent idea, my dear Watson. It may or may not work. I am yet to try it; but just in case - here is the ps aux for future reference:

-rwxr-xr-x  1 root  wheel   1.9M Jan  1  2020 /usr/libexec/TouchBarServer

So maybe running the following will work. Maybe.

sudo /usr/libexec/TouchBarServer
Update September 09, 2021

It did not work.

How about starting ControlStrip manually when it crashes?


Yet to be tested.

I will update here the next time the bug happens. Until then, fingers crossed! 🤞

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