If you’re a Macintosh user, you probably appreciate a clean interface and nice aesthetics. One thing that can cause your Mac’s interface to become cluttered, though, is a myriad of icons in your menu bar. Many programs will allow you to turn off its menu bar icon but not all. Worse yet, you might have all monochrome menu bar icons and then have to install a printer driver to test label printing for work – and this single program installs a garish color icon sticking out like a red solo cup in an otherwise tasteful place setting. I speak hypothetically, of course.
If you find yourself with a problem like this, or you just want to have more control over your menu bar, enter Bartender from surtees studios.
Bartender gives you a great amount of control over your menu bar icons. Choose between the following options for each menu bar icon:
- Show in menu bar
- Always show in menu bar
- Show in Bartender menu bar
- Always hide
The distinction between the first two items comes down to Bartender’s use of its own menu bar that is toggled with the default menu bar. When clicking on Bartender’s ellipses icon, the menu bar will toggle between macOS’s menu bar and Bartender’s own custom menu bar. It is really a secondary menu bar that is hidden “behind” the macOS menu bar. The first option will display an icon in the primary menu bar but hide it when accessing Bartender’s menu bar. The second option will show an icon in both menu bars. And if you don’t like the “ellipses” icon used to toggle between macOS’s menu bar and the Bartender menu bar? That is also customizable. Choose between a list of preset icons provided by Bartender or choose your own.
You can even hide the Bartender icon entirely and switch between the menu bars using a keyboard shortcut. You can assign keyboard shortcuts for the following actions:
- Show Bartender Bar items
- Show full menu bar – this allows you to show as many menu bar icons as possible by shortening the active application’s menu if it is limiting the space available for your icons. The Apple logo will be the only item remaining on the left side of the menu bar.
- There is also an Advanced option in Bartender that allows you to hide the Application Menu automatically to make room for Bartender bar icons.
- Show all items in menu bar – this will display all of the icons on the menu bar – those set to the primary menu bar and Bartender’s.
- Search menu items allows the user to perform a text search for icons. The keywords to search on are editable per icon.
- Keyboard navigate will highlight the first icon in your menu bar and allow you to use arrow keys and the return key to choose an icon.
Finally, there are a few more possible tweaks:
- You can automatically show a hidden icon if its status has changed for a set amount of time. So, if an icon needs to notify you of something but is in the Bartender menu bar, it will come forward to the primary menu bar if needed.
- There is an energy saving feature to make Bartender check for icon updates less frequently when your laptop is not plugged in.
- You can automatically hide the Bartender menu bar when it loses focus (you click somewhere else) or you can leave the Bartender menu bar up until you specifically change back to the primary menu.
Bartender costs $15 and is available at https://www.macbartender.com/. There is a generous 4 week trial period. I had never searched for a utility to organize these icons before I had to install software that placed color eye sores amongst my otherwise-monochrome menu. It is also nice to be able to tuck away icons that I want to keep but hardly ever use. For the price, I think Bartender is well worth it.