Make your Mac invincible
Without a doubt, the menu bar is one of Mac’s great features. It’s condensed, easy to tap into on the fly, and displays much-needed information in real time.
But, with every new icon app added, things become a little more cluttered and usability takes another hit. Fortunately, it’s possible to edit the menu bar to rearrange and remove icons so that it’s able to suit your needs at any given moment. Read on for the best ways to make the menu bar on Mac truly yours.
A tool that perfects menu bar
For system items, just press Command and drag a menu bar extra away from the menu bar to remove it. For third-party items, you’ll need to check the apps that added the menu bar extras. Many of them. Mar 15, 2020 After you change your Mac’s Menu Bar and Dock to dark mode, try changing the volume and see if the volume indicator appears on-screen and is easily visible–like this example. As some readers note, when you change the macOS Dock for Catalina+ to dark mode, you may no longer see your Mac’s on-screen volume indicator. Mac Tips; The menu bar is a great place to perform quick searches, track battery life, and switch Wi-Fi networks on your Mac, but it can do way more than that if you let it. I've rounded up some menu apps below that not only have features that will boost your productivity, but are lightweight enough to run entirely from the menu bar. Menu Bar apps sit in your Mac’s menu bar and provide access to an array of features and services, all with just a simple click or tap of the app’s menu bar icon. They can bring additional productivity, utility, or security, or add useful information to your Mac’s menu bar. For such apps (mostly third party apps), you will have to access the settings screen of the program and find a way to remove the stubborn icons from the Menu bar of your Mac. Open the stubborn App and navigate to Settings screen of the App. On the Settings screen, look for an entry that refers to the Menu bar – something like Show in.
Rethink the menu bar with this app. Bartender customizes one of the main parts of Mac's interface, efficiently.
How to rearrange items in menu bar
How much freedom you have to rearrange items in menu bar depends on which version of macOS you’re running. The users of macOS Sierra and later definitely have more creative license here than others. And if you are not there yet, it’s time to upgrade to the newest macOS anyway.
Rearranging menu items in macOS
To move an icon in the menu bar, hold Command (cmd), then click and hold the icon to drag it across the bar. Simple.
There are no restrictions here — feel free to move icons anywhere you see fit. Don’t like the clock all the way over there on the right-hand side? Drag it to somewhere more suitable. Want to place the Setapp icon over to the area of the bar once reserved for first-party apps? Do it!
The only icon that cannot be tampered with is the Notification Center. Apple has decided this must remain in the far right corner of the menu, which is fair enough — it looks good there.
Rearranging menu items in OS X versions (El Capitan and older)
Movement of icons in old versions of macOS is reserved for selected apps only: Bluetooth, audio, Time Machine, WiFi, battery, clock, and user switching. Spotlight and Notification Center must stay put, as must all third-party apps.
To move icons around within the designated area, once again hold Command, then click and hold the icon to drag it.
How to remove icons from the top bar on Mac
If there are items in the menu bar that you feel don’t belong there, hold Command, click on the icon, and drag it outside of the menu bar.
Note: this only works for first-party icons.
It is possible to remove third-party icons from the top bar on Mac by clicking on them and selecting “Quit” or “Close,” but this will stop the app from working until you reopen it.
Some apps give the option to remove icons from the top bar on Mac in their settings: [chosen app] > Preferences. However, a lot of apps won’t. To fully customize which icons appear in the menu bar, you should use a third-party app like Bartender.
If you’ve removed the first-party app and you’d like it back on the menu, it can be re-enabled in System Preferences.
How to add icons to the top bar on Mac
If you’re missing a specific system icon in the Mac’s menu bar, you can add it through System Preferences. For instance, to enable the Language icon, select Language & Region in the preference pane, click Input Sources, and check the box next to “Show Input menu in menu bar.”
Add menu bar extras
Because the menu options like Clock and Ink can’t be found in System Preferences, you might need to use the System folder as well:
- Open Finder.
- Select Go > Go to Folder from the menu bar.
- Type a path: /System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras.
- Double-click an item and it will instantly appear in your menu bar.
You can easily remove any of the icons by holding Command and dragging it outside of the menu bar as described above.
How to customize and tidy Mac menu bar
It’s possible to change the look of the default menu bar items in System Preferences and third-party apps’ ones in their respective preferences. Most of the time, you’ll be able to at least switch the color to black and white.
Change how the date and time are displayed in the menu bar
In the right corner of your menu bar, click on date and time to Open Date & Time Preferences. Go to the Clock tab and unlock the preferences by entering your administrator password, so that you can make changes. To customize the look of the clock, choose between two different time display options: Digital or Analog. You can also tick the boxes for “Show date” and “Show the day of the week.”
To instantly toggle between different display options, click on date and time in the menu bar and choose “View as Analog” or “View as Digital.”
How to use your battery status on Mac
Keeping track of your battery life from the menu bar takes a few simple actions and yet is vital to Mac’s performance.
Click on the battery icon and tick Show percentage to see how much battery power you have left. In the same drop-down menu, you can check the programs that are using significant power in case your battery is draining too fast. To optimize battery usage, select “Open Energy Saver Preferences” and adjust sleep settings.
Toggle between fast user switching icons
There are three different options on how the Fast User Switching menu can be displayed in your Mac’s top bar – as a full name, account name or icon. Here’s how you do the customization:
- Click on the icon and open Users & Groups Preferences.
- Enter your password to unlock.
- Select Login Options in the bottom left corner of the Users & Groups.
- Go to “Show fast user switching menu” and pick one of the options.
- Untick the box if you prefer to remove the icon from the menu bar.
Show Wi-Fi status in the menu bar
To enable the Wi-Fi icon in your Mac’s top bar, go to System Preferences and select Network. Tick the box next to “Show Wi-Fi status in menu bar.”
How to replace menu bar app icons
If you want to have custom icons in your Mac’s menu bar, there’s a way to replace the default ones. To change the icon of a third-party app, find it in Applications, right-click to open a context menu, and choose “Show Package Contents.” Go to Resources folder to find the defaults – these can be used as templates for the new icons. Once you have a custom icon ready, simply copy it into the same Resources folder.
The same works for system icons, except you won’t find all of them in Applications. Here’s the path for you to take: Hard Disk > System > Library > CoreServices > Menu Extras. Once you’ve found the item you need, click on “Show Package Contents” and navigate to the icon via [MENUITEM.menu] > Contents > Resources.
In both cases, it’s a good idea to create backups of the default icons before replacing them – just in case you’ll need them later.
Hide menu bar items
One low-key feature on Mac is the ability to auto-hide menu bar. To do this, open System Preferences > General. Check the option to “Automatically hide and show the menu bar” and the menu bar will immediately disappear.
To get the menu bar to show up again, simply move the cursor to the top of the screen and hold it there for a second. Now you can access the menu whenever you need it and enjoy an extra bit of screen real estate when you don’t.
Customizing the menu bar with Bartender
If you want more control over how the menu bar looks and what it does, you should consider using the Bartender app.
Bartender lets you hide icons without quitting and rearrange icons in a way that better suits how you use the menu bar — something particularly useful if you’re running an older version of macOS.
App icons can be displayed when updating, shown in the Bartender Bar only, or hidden completely and accessed easily using a built-in search function. It’s even possible to toggle through and activate items using keyboard navigation.
If you’re someone that prefers a minimalist look, the app gives you the option to remove the Bartender menu item, leaving you with a crisp, clean menu bar.
Overall, the Mac menu bar is there to help you improve your productivity by giving you quick access to the apps and tools you need. Using the tips above, you can customize the menu bar in a way that works for you. Best of all, you can get full access to Bartender and over 150 more high-quality macOS apps on Setapp, with a 7-day free trial to get you started. So why not get your menu bar organized now?
Menu Bar apps sit in your Mac’s menu bar and provide access to an array of features and services, all with just a simple click or tap of the app’s menu bar icon. They can bring additional productivity, utility, or security, or add useful information to your Mac’s menu bar.The basic menu bar with Apple-supplied menu items shown.
Our list of 15 menu bar apps is by no means all-inclusive; there are so many apps available that it would take quite a while to combine them into a single list. Instead, I’ve gathered a list of menu bar apps that I’ve either used or are popular in the Mac community, and are worth trying out.
Let’s start our list of favorite menu bar apps with ones that enhance your productivity.
Yes, your Mac comes with its own Calendar app, which does a pretty good job of keeping track of dates and notifying you of upcoming events. But to add, edit, and view the calendars, the app needs to be running. That’s where menu bar-based calendar apps shine, letting you work with your calendars directly from the menu bar.
Currently at version 2, Fantastical started life as strictly a menu bar app but has grown into a full-fledged Mac app. Thankfully, the folks who make Fantastical didn’t abandon the menu bar; version 2 has all the original benefits of a lightweight menu bar app, as well as the power of a full app when you need it.Fantastical provides easy access to your current calendar and upcoming events.
Fantastical supports multiple calendars, and calendar sets, which can automatically switch their active/inactive states depending on your location. This lets you set up calendars for work as well as home, and automatically switch between them.
• Fantastical 2 is $49.99, with a 21-day free trial.
If the Mac’s Calendar app is performing well for you, and the feature you’re really missing is access to Calendar from the menu bar, Itsycal is the menu bar app for you. Itsycal can display a monthly view of your Calendar app’s information, including showing events that are scheduled. If you need additional information, you can open the Calendar app directly from Itsycal.
• Itsycal is free.
There are a number of contact managers for the Mac but most are full-fledged apps, with only minimal, if any, menu bar support. One of the exceptions is the app below.
Cardhop is the preferred way to access, edit, add to, and just work with the Mac’s Contacts app. For many Mac and iOS device users, Cardhop is the only method they use to manage their contacts; that’s how powerful this menu bar app is.Cardhop can show upcoming events and recent contacts, as well as all of the cards in the Mac’s Contacts app.
Cardhop makes use of a powerful search capability that allows you to find contact information based on just about any detail that may be present in a contacts card. Search by name, address, birth date, or any criteria; it’s as easy as clicking or tapping the Cardhop menu bar item and starting to type. Cardhop will display any matching cards it finds.
Adding or editing contacts is just as easy; just enter the name and details and Cardhop takes care of the rest. Cardhop also includes the ability to add note fields, to enter personal details about your contact, and a timestamp field to create a history of your contacts.
One of the best features of Cardhop is its ability to act on a contact you select. If you need to send an email or make a phone call, Cardhop can launch the appropriate app to send an email or connect to your Bluetooth phone, use Wi-Fi calling, or get the macOS Continuity feature to make calls for you.
• Cardhop is $19.99 and is available with a 21-day free trial.
Menu bar-based system utilities have a tendency to overpopulate my menu bar. It seems the techie in me wants to know how my Mac’s resources are being used any time I’m using it. There are a number of system menu bar apps, but here are a few of my favorites.
This system utility will place a number of items in your menu bar to monitor the performance of your Mac. You can keep track of CPU and GPU performance, memory usage, disk access, and network usage; there’s also a large array of built-in system sensors, including various temperature, voltage, current, and wattage readings, You can even measure ambient light levels, if your Mac is properly equipped.The compact menu bar menus in iStat Menus can reveal details about how your Mac is performing.
iStat Menus can monitor just about every aspect of your Mac’s performance and do it without taking up too much of your menu bar’s real estate.
• iStat Menus is available for $11.99 for a single Mac, or $14.99 for a 5-user family pack. A 14-day free trial is available.
The original MenuMeters was a handy menu bar system monitor by Alex Harper that stopped working when OS X El Capitan was introduced. Since then, the original open source app has been forked by various developers, to accommodate the newer versions of the Mac OS. This version works with OS X El Capitan through macOS Mojave.
MenuMeters installs as a preference pane that allows you to specify how each item (CPU, Disk, Memory, and Network) should be displayed in the menu bar. You can control the type of information displayed, update intervals, and in some cases, the colors to be used.
• MenuMeters is free.
Unlike the other system monitor utilities in this group, Memory Clean is dedicated to monitoring a Mac’s memory. It can keep track of memory usage, how memory is being used, which apps are memory hogs, and which apps are inactive but still tying up memory.Keeping track of how your memory is being used is one of the many tasks Memory Clean can perform for you.
Additionally, Memory Clean can also purge inactive memory, freeing up RAM that was set aside for apps that are no longer running.
• Memory Clean, currently at version 3, is $9.99. A free trial is available.
Mac Fan Control
This menu bar app can monitor the temperature sensors built into your Mac. But it doesn’t stop there; Mac Fan Control can use the temperature information to control the speed of your Mac’s fans.
You can set a constant fan speed, or assign one of the temperature sensors to be used to regulate a fan’s speed.
Mac Fan Control is a great way to silence a noisy fan momentarily while you perform a critical task, such as recording from a microphone that is located near your Mac. It’s also commonly used to set a fan’s speed when a temperature sensor was broken during an upgrade or tear down that went awry.
• Mac Fan Control is $14.95; a free trial period is available.
One of the new features of the macOS was Night Shift, a system that reduces blue light from the display as the evening approaches. The idea is to enhance your sleep cycle by reducing blue light output from a digital display that can interfere with your natural circadian rhythm.
The f.lux app has been providing the same type of capabilities for a lot longer and may be in a better position to provide a better implementation. The f.lux system provides more control to the user and does a better job of reducing blue spectrum output of a display in the evening.
If you need a better night’s sleep after working on your Mac all day, give f.lux a look-see.
• f.lux is free.
Mac laptop users need a reliable way to monitor their Mac’s battery to help them stay informed about the current state of the battery, how much run-time is left, and the overall health of the battery. Create bootable usb on mac high sierra.
This battery monitor has been a Mac staple since 2005. Since then, coconutBattery has branched out to provide battery-monitoring services to the iPhone and iPad, as well as the Mac.
coconutBattery displays your current battery health, how often the battery was charged, the age of the battery, current charge, original and current capacity, battery temperature, and much more.
• coconutBattery is available in a free basic version and a Plus version for $9.95.
Understanding how well your battery is performing is one of the goals of the Battery Health app, but it can also help you prolong the battery’s runtime and longevity.
Battery Health displays the usual battery details: current battery health, capacity, charging cycles, battery temperature, age, manufacture date, the remaining charge on the battery, and how long it will take to fully charge the battery. It can also help you increase the battery runtime by showing you which apps are using the most energy.
Battery Health can also display the battery levels of connected Bluetooth devices, such as your Magic Mouse, Magic Keyboard, or AirPod.
Battery Health also works for iPhone and iPad devices.
• Battery Health is $9.99; a 3-day free trial is available.
There are quite a few apps for detecting malware that utilize the menu bar. But in many cases, the menu bar is used to launch the associated app. So, instead of listing those security apps, I went with a favorite password manager.
This password manager has long been a popular Mac app for creating and managing all of a user’s passwords. It provides access via the included full-featured app as well as from the menu bar, and from most Mac web browsers.Let 1Password manage your logins and passwords, freeing you to use complex passwords for increased security.
The 1Password web extension can handle most of your web-based login and password needs, but with the addition of the menu bar interface, 1Password can be used with any app as well as any web page, even when a web page hinders the use of a password manager.
1Password can generate complex passwords for you and make sure you’re not using duplicate passwords. Since 1Password is storing the passwords and login information for you in an encrypted database, you don’t need to worry about remembering every password, 1Password takes care of that for you.
• 1Password is available for single users and a 5-user family license, as well as business licenses. A free 30-day trial is available.
If your Mac is getting a little weighed down with apps and files, either of these file access apps can help you find everything faster.
This simple little app adds one or more menu items to the menu bar; each menu bar item can be populated with apps, folders, documents, or text snippets.
• XMenu is free and available from the Mac App Store.
Another menu bar app designed to give you quick access to your favorite items, including apps, documents, folders, bookmarks, text snippets, and color swatches.Shortcut Bar lets you create your own list of important locations and documents that you want to have quick access to.
Items can be organized into groups that can be expanded or hidden as needed – a helpful feature when your Shortcut Bar gets a bit overpopulated.
• Shortcut Bar is $8.99; a free trial is available.
In the Weather and Menu Bar Utility categories, I only found one app for each that’s worthy of mention.
There have been quite a few weather widgets for the menu bar, but for me, Meteorologist stands out because of the details it can provide and the community of developers/supporters that keep the app up to date. Meteorologist supports up to eight different locations that can use one of nine different weather services, letting you pick the best service for your location.
Mac Menu Bar Icons
Menu Bar Utility
Now that you’ve likely overpopulated your Mac’s menu bar, you may find yourself needing a bartender; by that I mean an app named Bartender that can manage all those menu bar icons.
Bartender can organize, rearrange, and hide or show items. It can also automatically highlight menu bar icons when they update, such as battery alerts, memory filling up, or other notifications a menu bar app may support.
• Bartender is $15.00; a free 4-week trial is available.
What’s Your Favorite Menu Bar App?
Let us know which menu bar apps you use, or which ones you don’t like, by using the comments section below.
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