MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2016) and later and MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports) and later feature the Touch Bar, which changes automatically based on the application that you're using to show you relevant, familiar tools and controls. On these models, the Esc button appears on the left side of the Touch Bar, in the same place the Esc key appears on traditional keyboards. MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) has a dedicated Esc key, separate from the Touch Bar.
Sometimes tools in the Touch Bar temporarily cover the Esc button:
After you tap or the Done button, Esc reappears.
How to use another key as Esc
You can choose a physical key to act as Esc, temporarily or permanently:
- Choose Apple () menu > System Preferences.
- Select Keyboard.
- In Keyboard preferences, click Modifier Keys.
- Use one of the pop-up menus to choose another key to act as Esc.
For example, if you choose Escape to the right of the Control (^) Key label, pressing Control has the same results as pressing Esc: it closes menus that are open, and pressing Control-Option-Command makes the Force Quit Applications window appear.
You can return your keyboard to its original behavior by clicking Restore Defaults.
How to force apps to quit using Esc alternatives
You might not be able to use the Esc button in the Touch Bar if the app you're using becomes unresponsive.
If you need to use Esc to force an app to close, you can switch to another app and try Option-Command-Escape. You can also choose Apple menu > Force Quit.
If that doesn't work, or if your Touch Bar doesn't respond in any app, restart your Mac. Choose Apple menu > Restart or, if your Mac isn't responding, press and hold Touch ID (power button) until your Mac turns off.
Using Esc in Windows
When you use Boot Camp to run Windows 10 on your Mac, Esc is in the same place on the Touch Bar as it is when you're using macOS.
You can also access Esc through the Windows on-screen keyboard. From the Windows menu, select the Windows Ease of Access menu item. Then select On-Screen Keyboard.