I’d be willing to bet your Mac’s menu bar looks something like mine used to:
That’s a lot of junk. Besides the numerous Apple-supplied icons — Notification Center, Spotlight, date and time, bluetooth, battery, Time Machine, VPN volume, and Airport Wi-Fi — I have several third-party services taking up space:
Without these utilities, I’m less productive on my Mac, but the price to pay for all of these great tools is that many of them must live in the Menu Bar and create all that messiness.
I hate messiness.
Thankfully, there’s an awesome Mac app, Bartender, that can help rein in some of this chaos.
The truth is that most of the apps don’t need a menu bar item most of the time. While I may hop into Dropbox’s menu bar application a couple of times a day, I generally don’t need to see what it is doing 24/7. I interact with the Backblaze menu bar item even less often.
That’s where Bartender comes in. The $15 app basically scoops up these menu bar items and places them behind one, single icon:
This cleans up the menu bar, but still leaves the utilities close enough that I can interact with them when I need to without feeling extra friction.
And it can clean up many of the system’s Menu Bar icons as well, such as AirPort Wi-Fi, battery levels, and even Spotlight.
Bartender ships with several options for its icon, but the “More” item — shown as three dots — is the cleanest, in my opinion. That said, the “Star” icon is nice, too.
Bartender’s preferences are pretty straight-forward. The app sees what menu bar items are active, and gives the user the option for the item to be shown in the Bartender Bar:
While I don’t have it checked (as I dislike icons appearing randomly and distracting me), Bartender can move an icon back to OS X’s menu bar item if it requires attention.
Of course, not all apps appreciate being tossed in Bartender. Thankfully, the application has an option to apply a fix for popup window placement. If this is enabled, the app will re-draw the menus on the fly, as needed.
Bartender is really the only game in town for this sort of thing. There are a few applications we’ve seen that seem to be abandonware out on the Internet that have tried to add this sort of utility in the past, but if this is an itch you need scratched, Bartender is the way to go. If you aren’t sure Bartender is for you, there’s a 4-week trial available on the developer’s website.
Bartender runs smoothly on the latest versions of OS X, and hasn’t caused any issues on my systems. While $15 is a lot for a utility that takes care of something that doesn’t bother most people, if you are a persnickety OS X user like me, it’s a great addition to your Mac.