The menu bar might not take up much space on your macOS screen, but there’s a fair amount of functionality packed into this little strip, whether it’s showing you how fast your battery is draining or giving you access to widgets and notifications. However, you may not be taking full advantage of the macOS menu bar yet.
For that you have to look at the world of macOS menu bar apps: small utilities that mainly live on the top bar of your display to give you easy access to all sorts of functions and settings without having to bother opening it an actual application. There are a lot of them out there and these are some of our favorites.
Don’t lose track of everything you need to do by getting the apt name memories (free) app installed in your macOS menu bar. You can split your reminders into custom lists, you can mark reminders as complete (or not complete), and filter reminders based on their status or the list they’re in. Everything syncs smoothly and seamlessly with the main Apple Reminders application, also in iCloud so nothing gets lost.
The best menu bar apps add some really useful features while remaining lightweight and super easy to use, and that’s a description that certainly fits QuickPresent ($19 and up). With a click of the top screen strip, you can hide desktop icons, active applications, and notifications, as well as temporarily customize the macOS wallpaper—all handy when you’re presenting something to others.
hand mirror (free) shows what’s possible with a macOS menu bar app. It takes a feature available in larger programs – in this case, the ability to check how you look via your webcam – and makes it easily accessible. With a single click, you can verify that you’re in the picture and looking your best before you’ve even opened your video calling software, and it’s one of those tools that will have you wondering how you ever lived without it.
While macOS has started adding a limited number of window snapping options, magnet ($8) is still worth the asking price, especially if you’re working on multiple screens or larger displays (or both). It allows you to split your Mac screen with your open applications in a variety of ways, not only through the options accessible from the menu bar, but also through customizable keyboard shortcuts and drag-and-drop. If you’d rather not spend money on this functionality, rectangle is a similar app that is free and open source.
While macOS has its own built-in focus tools, sometimes all you need is a simple, no-frills app to keep you working, and tomato bar (free) it certainly is. Run from the menu bar, this pomodoro timer tool will keep you honest for as long as you need to focus. It’s one of those perfect utilities that has all the necessary features without the unnecessary fluff (and that extends to unnecessary system permissions too).
PastePal (free or $15) isn’t strictly a menu bar app (it works for iOS and iPadOS too), but it feels like a native menu bar feature on macOS. It gives you enhanced control over your clipboard: you can organize items into collections, quickly preview and share content, easily search your clipboard, sync everything between multiple devices via iCloud, set up custom keyboard shortcuts, and more.
You might feel like the screen recording tools built into macOS are all you need, but mono snap (free for non-commercial use) is still worth a look: right from the menu bar or keyboard shortcuts, it can take all kinds of screenshots in all sorts of ways, and then back that up with extras like a zoom tool and various editing features. In addition, the program is capable of capturing screen captures as video files or animated GIFs.
We’ve already covered video, but what about audio? crisp (free or starting at $60 per year) uses AI to intelligently and seamlessly remove noise and echoes from your own device and from feeds you may be listening to, so it’s a must-have tool in the age of remote work — and it works with almost every calling application out there. You can use it for up to 240 minutes each month for free, but if you need it longer, a premium subscription is required.
With so many utilities running from the menu bar, you may need help managing all of them barman ($16, free trial available) comes into play: it gives you extensive control over what icons appear in the menu bar and when, and you can choose whether hidden items reappear with a hover or a click. The tool also lets you control the spacing of the menu bar and has a nifty search option for utilities.
If the bartender cost is a little too high for your blood, hidden bar (free) covers the basics and doesn’t cost you anything at all. With a simple drag-and-drop system, you can choose which menu bar icons are always visible and which aren’t, as well as auto-hide icons after a specified number of seconds have elapsed. When you have a cluttered menu bar, there aren’t many easier ways to restore order.