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Access Menu Bar Apps Mac

12/15/2021
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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.

Mac users: Access your menu bar and launch dock items from the comfort of your keyboard with the Ctrl-F2 (menu bar) and Ctrl-F3 (dock) shortcuts. Especially handy for former Windows users used to.

The Mac menu bar is prime real estate! Your Mac menu bar is a highly customizable space. By adding a few extra applications you get an awful lot more from macOS. Yes, menu bar apps are small, but they play a big part in your workflow. Just dig around in this handpicked directory! Search this website. The menu bar runs along the top of the screen on your Mac. Use the menus and icons in the menu bar to choose commands, perform tasks, and check status. You can set an option to automatically hide the menu bar so it’s shown only when you move the pointer to the top of the screen. See Change Dock & Menu Bar preferences.

List of menu bar apps that make your life easier. About For Members. Best Mac Menu Bar Apps. List of menu bar apps that make your life easier. Prevents your Mac from sleeping. Prevent sleep. MacBook Alarm. Secure your laptop with alarm. You can choose to receive a phone notification, a loud alarm to notify everyone around or both. Forecast Bar for Mac Also available for iPhone/iPad and Apple TV. Forecast Bar offers hyper accurate, hyper local live weather and forecasts right in your menu bar or dock. With full support for Mac OS X's dark theme, a daily weather report, and severe weather notifications, Forecast Bar is the most modern and last weather app you'll ever need!

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.

Calendars

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.

Fantastical

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.

Itsycal

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.

Contact Managers

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

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.

System Utilities

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.

iStat Menus

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.

MenuMeters

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.

Memory Clean

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.

f.lux

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.

Battery Monitors

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.

coconutBattery

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.

Battery Health

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.

Security

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.

1Password

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.

File Access

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.

XMenu

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.

Keyboard

Shortcut Bar

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.

Weather

In the Weather and Menu Bar Utility categories, I only found one app for each that’s worthy of mention.

Meteorologist

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.

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Menu Bar Utility

Bartender

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.

Access Menu Bar Apps Mac

• 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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macOS is designed to be easy to navigate for the average computer user, but finding some tools and features can be arduous, especially if you are going through System Preferences. Luckily, the Mac has a Menu bar (the small strip at the top of your screen) which has some very useful shortcuts to the most important features.

What's on the Menu bar?

The best way to make the most out of the Menu bar on the Mac is to get to know what's on it.

  • Apple menu - This is where you find important system tools and features, like information about your Mac, System Preferences, access to the App Store (and whether there are updates for apps), recently opened items, a shortcut to putting your Mac to sleep, restarting your Mac, shutting down your Mac, and logging out of your account.
  • App menu - Just past the Apple menu icon is the currently-selected app menu. When an app is open and in use, you'll see such categories as File, Edit, View, Window, Help, and more. Each app has a different menu layout.

  • System status menu - The System status menu includes third-party widgets that you can download from the Mac App Store, the volume controls, Wi-Fi status, AirPlay, the battery (on laptops), and the date and time.
  • Spotlight - Spotlight is the Mac's system-wide and online search tool. You can type anything into the Spotlight search and you will almost definitely find what you are looking for.

  • Siri - With Siri on the Mac, you can use the personal digital assistant to look up information, add events to the calendar, set reminders, and a whole lot more.
  • Notification Center - You can set widgets in Notification Center to provide quick access to things that matter the most to you, like the weather, your daily schedule, iTunes control, and special content from some third-party apps.

How to remove widgets from the Menu bar on the Mac

Over time, the Menu bar can start to get cluttered, especially when you add third party widgets. You can remove macOS status widgets if you don't use them.

  1. Right-click or control-click on a widget in the Menu bar.
  2. Select Open Preferences.
  3. Untick the box for Show in Menu bar.

In third-party apps (like Fantastical 2, when you click on the widget, there is usually a settings icon (it looks like a gear), which you can click on to quit or disable Menu bar access.

How to change the date and time in the Menu bar on the Mac

You can change the date, time, time zone, and look of the Date & Time of your Mac.

Note: If you manually change the date and time on your Mac, you could negatively impact programs running on your computer, and possibly get banned from certain games that consider time alterations a method of cheating at a game, so tread lightly.

How to manually change the date and time

  1. Click on the date and time in the Menu bar in the upper right corner of your screen.
  2. Click on Open Date & Time Preferences.

  3. Click the Date & Time tab.
  4. Click the lock to make changes.
  5. Enter your administrator password and click Unlock.

  6. Untick the box for Set date and time automatically.
  7. Select a new date.
  8. Select a new time.

You can also set the date and time automatically for a different country. You can set it for the U.S., Asia, or Europe.

How to manually change the time zone

  1. Click on the date and time in the Menu bar in the upper right corner of your screen.
  2. Click on Open Date & Time Preferences.

  3. Click the Time Zone tab.
  4. Click the lock to make changes.
  5. Enter your administrator password and click Unlock.

  6. Untick the box for Set time zone automatically using current location.
  7. Click on a new region.

How to change the look of the date and time Menu bar widget

Make A Mac Menu Bar App Free

  1. Click on the date and time in the Menu bar in the upper right corner of your screen.
  2. Click on Open Date & Time Preferences.

  3. Click the Clock tab.
  4. Click the lock to make changes.
  5. Enter your administrator password and click Unlock.

  6. Click Digital or Analog to change what the clock looks like.
  7. Tick the box for Show the day of the week to show the day of the week.
  8. Tick the box for Show date to show the date.

Mac Menu Bar Icons

How to use the battery widget in the Menu bar on Mac

The battery widget in the Menu bar, which will only appear on Apple laptops, shows you how much juice you have left before you'll need to charge up again. It also shows a few interesting facts about your usage.

Menu Bar Apps Mac

  1. Click on the battery widget.
    • The first status shows approximately how much time left you have before your battery runs out. It also shows whether your laptop is running on battery power or if it is plugged into an outlet.
    • The second status shows which program is being a battery hog. This is helpful if you notice that your battery is draining much faster than normal. It could be a buggy app.
  2. Click on Show Percentage to show, in numbers, how much battery power is remaining.
  3. Click on Open Energy Saver Preferences to adjust how long your screen and hard drive stay awake when not in use.

How to use Spotlight on the Mac

Spotlight is your Mac's systemwide search. When you type in a term, it will search for apps, documents, files, emails, and more. It will also search the internet, your contacts, directions in Maps, currency conversions, calculations, and a whole lot more. It's your one-stop shop for shortcuts to everything you use on your Mac.

How to use Siri on the Mac

Mac Os Menu Bar

Just like Siri on the iPhone and iPad, Siri on the Mac can be your personal virtual assistant. It searches your Mac for files and folders, schedules calendar events, and keeps important search results in your Notification Center. Need to know something? Siri can help with that.

How to use Notification Center on the Mac

Notification Center is a side panel that you can access whenever you want to quickly see what's on deck for today, what the weather looks like for the afternoon, or your list of things to do today. With third-party Notification Center widgets, you can stylize your Today view with all of your most important productivity apps.

How to rearrange Menu bar icons

  1. Hold down the command key on your keyboard.
  2. Click on the icon you would like to move. Make sure the command key is still pressed.

  3. Drag the icon to its new location.
  4. Let go of the mouse and command key to let the icon fall into place.

Bonus: Pro tips for Menu bar widgets on the Mac

Pressing the option key on your keyboard while clicking on some of the built-in Menu bar widgets will call up different information.

  • Option + Click on Wi-Fi to call up additional information about your wireless network, such as your IP address, the router address, your security type, and more. You can also create a diagnostic report and open a wireless diagnostic.
  • Option + Click on Bluetooth to see additional information about your Bluetooth connection, including its version and address. You can also create a diagnostic report on your Desktop.
  • Option + Click on Notification Center to manually turn Do Not Disturb on or off.

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