Apple anchors its legendary menu bar at the top in macOS. Well, it’s not because Apple wants macOS to appear the opposite of Windows. The menu bar continues to play a vital role in macOS, especially when you want to install apps that don’t consume quite a lot of system resources. So whether you want to run task management apps or just want to check the system status, the menu bar can be really help to give you a quick snapshot.
You don’t have to install every other app under the sun for simpler to intermediate tasks. Thanks to the macOS developer community, there are plenty of macOS menu bar apps for achieving simple tasks. That said, some apps truly make the best of the menu bar without putting a load on the system. That’s why we’re compiling the list of best menu bar app for your Mac that you must try out and use.
Note: With the SetApp subscription costing $9.99 per month, you get over 190 macOS apps for free and the store is also adding support for iOS apps.
1. iStat Menus
Monitor your system status while working can get a bit tedious. You might want to know the status of the granular components like CPU, GPU, network, sensors, and others. So iStat Menu provides details of such components as system information in a more comprehensive way. Also, the app doesn’t consume many resources to collect the information, and you can view all for that by clicking the app icon on the menu bar.
The iStat Menus can also help you identify if any app is suspiciously consuming more resources than it is supposed to. In my case, I found that the RPM (rotations per minute) of the fan on my MacBook Air had suddenly dropped with a whirring sound. After a quick SMC Reset, it got back to normal and helped prevent any potential lasting damage. From temperature to the volume levels, it shows information quite neatly on the menu bar. It’s an absolute must-have for everyone who cares about his/her Mac. The iStat Menus comes with a 14-day trial. If you like the app, then you can buy it for $14.15 from the developer’s website. Or you can get it for free with a SetApp subscription.
2. One Switch
One Switch is like the reincarnated version of the Control Center on iOS. True to its name, One Switch offers several toggles to switch on or off several services and settings that are otherwise nested deeply. It could be as simple as cleaning up your desktop view or disconnecting the Bluetooth earphones/speaker.
You can use it for some nifty tasks like showing or hiding hidden files or activating a screensaver. I loved the Do Not Disturb mode, which can be handy while working on tasks with full focus. One Switch app comes with a 7-day free trial, and then you’ll have to pay $4.99 to buy it from the site. Alternatively, you get it for free if you have a SetApp subscription.
You can run snippets of code for things like weather information to currently playing track. With BitBar, you can put and produce any string of information on the macOS menu bar. The real champions behind this app are contributors who’ve written several ready-to-use plugins for BitBar. All you have to do is install the app, get the plugin, and drop it in a folder.
From your network speed to shuffling songs on Spotify, you can achieve most things using different plugins from the plugin directory. With BitBar, you can beef up the menu bar of your Mac with a variety of plugins. The best part is that the app is available for free, and so are the plugins. If you don’t mind tinkering a bit with the code, you can further customize the plugins as per your requirements.
At the time of writing, the official site was under maintenance. Run the BitBar app to create a folder called Plugins. Copy the code of the plugin you like from the Plugin directory, save the file with plugin’s name (ends with .sh) and then run the BitBar app.
Task View on Windows 10 and Split View on iPadOS will make you desire a similar feature on the macOS. Thankfully, Magnet app exists to let you snap and stack app windows in different directions on your screen. Click on the app on the menu bar and pick a direction from the drop-down menu. Alternatively, you can memorize the shortcuts to snap and sort the windows quickly.
Magnet is extremely helpful for work and entertainment. While working, you can snap and sort the windows for referring to reports and documents quickly. Likewise, you can enjoy YouTube or Netflix on one side while catching up on emails or chatting with friends. Magnet works best if you tend to hook your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air to a suitable monitor. You can buy Magnet for $2.99 from the Mac App Store.
Bartender 3 is an efficient tool to manage all the app icons that will appear after installing the apps on this list. You can smartly de-clutter that menubar space and arrange them the app icons into an expandable yet invisible stack that autohides. You can also manually reorder the icons as per your usage and choice.
If you tend to have multiple apps running, then you can even use the keyboard shortcut to cycle between those app icons. Alternatively, you can also search for the app using the search box. Hiding certain apps protects your privacy from other folks and also cleans up the menu bar.
You can enjoy the 3-week trial of Bartender 3 if you download it from the official site or pay $15 as a one-time license fee. Alternatively, you can get it for free with SetApp’s monthly subscription.
Clean Up The Bar
A neatly organized menu bar using the Bartender app looks way more appealing to me than letting all the icons appear there. You can also make the menu bar your new spot from trying out small apps that probably don’t need a complete installation through the Applications folder. Take the menu bar as an opportunity to try out tiny programs to free up your system resources and conserve them for the crucial tasks later. Which are your favorite menu bar apps? I bet there are many other menu bar apps that you’d want to share with others in the comments.
Last updated on 15 February, 2023
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