Don’t let all of that space go to waste.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Don’t let all of that space go to waste.

The menu bar is the space that runs on the top of your Mac desktop. It spans the entire width of your screen and is possibly the most overlooked space on your desktop. With the help of some apps, you can use it to display much more than just the time and date.

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BARTENDER ($21.53)


By default, macOS already has built-in controls to organise your menu bar items — simply hold down on the Command ( ) and click on the icon to move it around. Bartender, however, is a much more powerful tool that lets you hide your menu bar items. This keeps your menu bar tidy and is particularly useful if you have a lot of menu bar items or if you are using a smaller display. You can even configure it in such a way that hidden menu bar items automatically reveal themselves if the app has an update. And if you are the type who prefers to keep your hands on the keyboard instead of reaching for the mouse, Bartender has plenty of keyboard shortcuts, allowing users to navigate through menu bar icons using their keyboard. There’s even a nifty search function so there’s no need to go looking around for the menu bar item that you want.

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ISTAT MENU ($14.98)


iStat Menu is a powerful system monitor for Macs. It can show CPU and GPU usage, memory usage, storage status, system temperature, Wi-Fi status, Wi-Fi speeds, world time, and even weather forecasts and the battery levels of your connected Bluetooth devices. Furthermore, you can set up notifications to alert you if CPU usage is high or if memory is running low. It’s highly configurable and customisable too, so you can style the icons to fit your desktop’s theme. Overall, it’s an invaluable tool for any user who’s interested in keeping tabs on how his or her system is doing. the menu bar item that you want.

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If you are a music junkie like me and have a vast library of songs, you’ll want to download SpotMenu. It works with iTunes (Apple Music) and Spotify and it shows the track that is currently playing in your menu bar. And when you mouse over it, it shows the album artwork and playback controls. It saves you the trouble of having to switch to your music player just to skip tracks or to know what’s playing.

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MAGNET ($2.98)


macOS doesn’t have a built-in windows management tool like Windows’ Snap Assist. There are a handful of windows management utilities but my favourite is Magnet. After installation, Magnet appears as a menu bar item and you can click on it to quickly resize windows and organise your workspace. You can also use your mouse and drag windows to the edges of the display to snap them into place. Or if you are an advanced user, there are also keyboard shortcuts that get the job done more quickly. It also works even if you use your screen in a vertical orientation.

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Bitbar is a utility that lets you run any script or program in your menu bar, choose from the dozens of plug-ins created by other users or, if you fancy, write your own. There are the usual system monitor plug-ins that show CPU load, memory usage, battery life, and more. But there are also more esoteric ones like Dark Mode Toggle that lets users quickly switch between macOS Mojave’s Light and Dark mode. One user even wrote a plug-in that shows real-time scores and updates of World Cup 2018 matches. I hope he updates it when it’s time for World Cup 2022.