Developing software in the Real World

Keyboard shortcut to mirror displays on a Touch Bar Mac

One feature of the 16″ MacBook Pro that was new to me is the Touch Bar. This thing replaces the F-keys with a touch pad that adjusts itself to the app in use in order to provide useful shortcuts you can just touch.

This is all well and good, but when presenting, I use the cmd+F1 keyboard shortcut to toggle display mirroring. A useful Stack Overflow answer tells me that I can use cmd+{dim brightness} to do this. However, the dim brightness button isn’t displayed by default, so you have to touch the < button first to expand the “control strip” in order to see it. That’s a lot of brain cycles when you’re under the lights on stage. I want a simple keyboard shortcut!

While I returned that MacBook Pro for various uninteresting reasons, I thought I’d document the solution I came up with so I can look this up again when/if I have a laptop with a Touch Bar again.

Further googling led me to the mirror-displays project. This provides a command line tool ( that will do exactly what we need as it’s a toggle:

All we need to do is hook it up to a keyboard short cut.

My preferred choice at the moment for this sort of thing Keyboard Maestro. I created a simple macro that did exactly what I wanted:

Screenshot of Keyboard Maestro macro that toggles mirror mode

I mapped this to the keyboard shortcut shift+cmd+§ as on my keyboard § is right next to the 1, below the esc and so in the same general vicinity as cmd+F1.

I find that giving presentations takes a lot of cognitive effort, so changing a keyboard shortcut means new muscle memory which is always a risk when on stage. Personally, the way I help myself with this is to perform all the steps including mirroring for demos when I practice my talks before I go on stage.

This one will take a few more practice runs, but hopefully I’ll then look like I know what I’m doing as I seamlessly switch to mirror mode when demoing and then back to normal for my slides with presenter display.

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