The menu bar of Mac computers has become, for many power users, nearly as crowded and used as items in the Dock. Besides the default items that appear in the menu bar – including Spotlight, the Users switcher, and the digital calendar – many third-party applications include menu bar items that make it easier to input or access data or navigate programs, without launching yet another application or window.
But a problem occurs when there’s too many items in the menu bar. A new application called Bartender might just be the thing to help you get back space in your menu bar.
How It Works
Bartender allows you to move and hide items in your menu bar, and display them only when needed.
I have 20 menu bar items, including Alfred, Day One, Dropbox, Fantastical, Google Drive, Mailplane, and Path Finder that I access on a regular basis, but I don’t necessarily need them displayed every minute of the day.
Using Bartender, I was able to hide 9 of those items and get back some space in my menu bar.
Bartender is pretty straightforward to use. When you launch the app, its Preferences window opens with all the Running Apps in your menu bar displayed in the left column.
For each item you can select to (1) do nothing and leave it there, (2) move it to Bartender’s bar, or (3) completely hide the item from the menu bar. This latter option is useful for applications in which you don’t get the option to disable a particular menu bar item.
Another useful feature that Bartender contains is “Item Updates.” If Bartender detects a change in the menu bar, it will display it on your menu bar for 5 seconds. So for example, if your Dropbox icon moved to Bartender and a file gets moved or updated in your account, the Dropbox icon will appear briefly back in your menu bar so you can see that update is in fact taking place.
Also, if you have a menu bar item such as the Day One app which allows you to enter text in a pop-up window that is saved to the application, you will probably want to check the “Apply fix for popup windows placement” in Bartender so that the menu bar item will relocate correctly when accessed from Bartender.
For the most part, Bartender works as described, but there are a few menu bar items in my Mac that won’t move to Bartender, e.g., Mailplane, SOHO NotesServices, and Alarms.
Like most other applications, Bartender can be set to launch automatically at log-in, and you can also customize the icon for Bartender. One of the default icon options probably should be one that is red or blue to make it distinguishable.
You can also hide the Bartender icon itself and use a custom hot key to bring up your hidden items. The developers also made a way for hidden items to reappear in your menu bar, instead of the Bartender bar when you click on the Bartender icon.
Bartender is currently free in the beta version, so check it out while it lasts. I didn’t detect any bugs in the application, though sometimes the Bartender bar would move to the second monitor screen if I had the Bartender Preferences window opened there.
You do get the option to relocate the bar by dragging the setting gear to the spot under your menu bar where you want to see it open to. There is also a Reset Bartender Bar Location button for when it jumps out of place.
Surtees Studios hasn’t indicated the price of Bartender when it comes out of beta. So if your menu bar is crowded, it’s well worth downloading it now and checking it out. Let us know what you think about it in the comments below.