Pimp Your Mac’s Menu Bar With The Best Tweaks & Apps

Justin Pot 06-05-2014

Those icons at the top-left of your computer? You’re not using them enough, and that’s too bad. This area of your Mac can be a great way to quickly find information or even get work done.


If you never click icons, maybe you just don’t know about the right apps to use – or haven’t tweaked the menubar to work well for you. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Manage Your Calendar With Fantastical

Using Calendar on your Mac is great, but most of the time you’re just quickly checking what’s up, or adding an entry. Do you really need an entire application window for that?

Pimp Your Mac's Menu Bar With The Best Tweaks & Apps fantastical main

Fantastical’s betting not. This menubar app gives you a quick overview of your upcoming schedule, and allows you to browse your calendar and add appointments – all from the menubar Manage Your Calendar From The Mac Menubar With Fantastical Manage your calendar, completely, from your Mac's menu bar. Fantastical isn't just a way to quickly see your upcoming events: it's a way to never look at Apple's default Calendar again. Read More . Best of all, in integrates with Calendar/iCal, meaning you don’t need to import your calendars to a new service.

Download: Fantastical ($20).


If you’d prefer a free option, check out itsycal. It’s a tiny and keyboard friendly menubar calendar Itsycal: Tiny Keyboard-Friendly Calendar For Your Menu Bar [Mac] Read More :

Pimp Your Mac's Menu Bar With The Best Tweaks & Apps 1

Add Menus With XMenu

Are there folders you open files from constantly? Or do you want a quick way to browse your applications? XMenu is worth checking out. This app lets you add folders as icons to your menubar:



Go ahead and download XMenu for free from the Mac App Store.

Add A Timer

Pimp Your Mac's Menu Bar With The Best Tweaks & Apps menubarcountdown menu

It’s a simple app, but oh-so-useful, and typing a message for your computer to say back to you later is just fun. If you’d prefer something specifically made for the Pomodoro technique, I recommend Tomighty (free).



It’s simple, sure, but customizable in the way you need it to be: you can set how long the work periods and breaks are. It also supports notification center.

Keep Your Mac From Falling Asleep With Caffeine

Need your Mac to stay awake? Whether you’ve got a download you need to complete or are using your screen as a passive display at a party, sometimes you need your computer to stay awake.

Enter the aptly-named Caffeine [No Longer Available]. This little app lives in your menubar, and looks like a cup of coffee. A full cup means your Mac won’t go to sleep; and empty cup means it will.

See The Weather Forecast, Quickly

There are a wide variety of free Mac weather apps The 7 Best Mac Weather Apps Here are the best weather apps for Mac, allowing you to check the current conditions right from your menu bar. Read More out there, and a few that run from the menubar. I recommend you check out Meteo (free) if you like this idea.


Pimp Your Mac's Menu Bar With The Best Tweaks & Apps macweather meterologist

See The Preferences

The Mac Preferences window isn’t exactly hard to use, but some prefer to browse menus than windows. If you’re among them, check out menuprefs (free, but you’ll need to enter a product key from the site). It puts an icon in your menubar you can click to see all the Preferences panes:


The app hasn’t been updated since 2006, but surprisingly still works with Mavericks.

Any Site, Courtesy of Fluid

Explore the Mac App Store and you’ll find a lot of single-purpose apps for adding sites to your menubar. Facebook is the most common, but apps abound for Twitter and Gmail as well.

But you don’t need to install a separate app for every website you want to use from the Menubar: just check out Fluid ($5), which can turn any website into a native Mac application. The paid version of the app allows you to create menubar apps, putting any site just a click away.

Reduce Clutter With Bartender

If you installed half the apps listed above, your menubar is getting full. Maybe the icons are threatening to overlap with the text menu. Apple, in their wisdom, doesn’t offer a way to hide icons – it’s a pretty basic Windows feature that Macs are lacking A Perfect Operating System? Getting Windows Style Features in OS X Bring the best features of Windows to OS X. You did not read that incorrectly. Many Mac users won't admit it, but there are some pretty nice features in Windows – particularly Windows 7 and... Read More .

But there is a tool capable of saving you from menubar overload: Bartender ($15), which offers an easy way to reduce menubar overload.

Pimp Your Mac's Menu Bar With The Best Tweaks & Apps Bartender 4

With it, you can send the icons you use less frequently to the “Bartender Bar”, a hidden menubar you can bring up by clicking Bartender’s icon. This lets you hide clutter, but still gives you access to apps when you need them.

If you’d rather hide apps altogether, or don’t want to pay $15, you could look into Broomstick, which lets you reorganize menu bar apps on your Mac. How To Customize & Tidy Your Mac Menu Bar Nothing makes OS X look cluttered faster than unwanted menubar icons. Read More

Turn Your Menubar Black

We showed you ways to personalize your OS X desktop Top 7 Ways to Personalize Your Mac Desktop Want to make your Mac more personal? Check out these awesome methods for customizing your Mac theme and more. Read More , including how to turn your menubar black.

Pimp Your Mac's Menu Bar With The Best Tweaks & Apps customize mac menubar

The hack for the job is called Obsidian Menubar, and it’s easy enough to use. What’s not easy: your icons remain black after you use it. This might be fine if you don’t wish to see your menubar icons; otherwise, you’ll need to manually replace the icons with white ones.

It’s work, but it might be worth it.

Finding Even More

Want to add even more functionality to your Mac’s menubar? I’d start by checking out, a blog where users submit screenshots of their menubar icons and explain what everything does. You’re sure to find something.

Of course, I’m just skimming the surface above. Here are a few more apps worth checking out:

And I’m sure you know of some great menubar apps not listed here. Leave your favourite in the comments below, so everyone can find out about them.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. MacUser
    October 16, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Phantastic list of mac utility apps.
    Here is one more app which I am using it from long time and its promising.
    Which shows network connections, ethernet status, speed and much more.

    Its also records how much data you are using in a session.

  2. Badi R
    May 7, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    How about f.lux (

    • Justin P
      May 7, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      Flux is great, and I'm a user for sure.

  3. Bud
    May 7, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    I'm well aware that this site offers a lot of info about Windows, but I appreciate articles about Macs, since it IS the ONLY OS I use. Thanks !

    • Justin P
      May 7, 2014 at 8:19 pm

      We love writing about Mac apps, and aren't going to stop.

  4. Nate
    May 6, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    If you want to keep track of multiple monitors: Display Menu
    If you want to know at a glance how much space is left on your various drives, be they externals, flash drives, even DVDs: FreeSpace Tab
    If you want iTunes to pause when you unplug your headphones: Breakaway
    And my personal favorite: If you want to hide the Menu Bar completely (à la Dock autohide): Menu and Dockless (only works for native Cocoa apps, unfortunately)
    All of these are free, most are on the App Store already

  5. Zack McCauley
    May 6, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    What about Day-0 as an alternative to Fantastical and itsycal?
    I use that and it also allows you to change the time format using Unicode!

    • Justin P
      May 7, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      That's another great app, and perfect if you don't want to see your appointments.

  6. Mihir Patkar
    May 6, 2014 at 8:47 pm
    • Justin P
      May 7, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      Hey, Recent! I see you're a little different than the "Recent Items" menu, sorting files into types. That's cool, I guess. No, I'm not the guy who started the site. Why does everyone ask me that?

  7. Gautch
    May 6, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    I really like Eclipse for darkening my menu bar over the Obsidian hack.

    • A Man
      July 24, 2014 at 5:16 am

      For mavericks? Obsidian is the only hack I've seen working in 10.9

  8. JCDCM
    May 6, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    You TOTALLY forgot Clockwise! Clockwise is simply the best mac app for timers and alerts I've ever used, and I've tried a few myself...

    I actually first heard of Clockwise through MakeUseOf here: //

    • Justin P
      May 6, 2014 at 9:09 pm

      Nice one!