Top 5 Menu Bar Apps

It’s time for the 4th and probably final installment of my top 5 favorite apps, this time I’m going to go through my menu bar apps. This one might not follow my previous rules, a few of my top 5 might be pretty mainstream. Before going through them though, I wanted to give you two menu bar tips that you may not already know about.

Sound Icon

You all can see your sound volume in the menu, right? It looks like a little speaker with waves coming out of it. If you click on it, you’ll see a slider to change the output volume. But there are hidden features in this menu bar icon that are only revealed if you hold down the option key before you click. Once you hold down the option key you can very quickly see all of the input and output options for your audio. You can quickly flip from your internal to external microphone, or change the output from say your Macbook to the speakers in your display. I use this CONSTANTLY. I can’t tell you how many times a week my audio is coming out of the wrong place or I’m on the wrong microphone. I’ve learned to just look at it every time before I start doing a Skype or FaceTime call. The option key also reveals your Airplay options so if you want to fling your audio up to an Airplay device like your receiver, you can do that right from there. It’s also a quick way to jump into the Sound preference pane because there’s a link to it at the bottom of the list of input and output devices. If I have any advice to a new Mac user, or even a seasoned one, it’s hold the option key down and click on things on your Mac. There are all kinds of hidden gems buried about the Mac OS that only show up with that tricky little option key.

Keyboard Viewer

Keyboard preference pane set to input sourcesThe second menu bar trick is something I talked about way back on show #66 in 2006. They’ve moved it since then so I don’t think it will count as repetition! The problem to be solved first is you’re typing away and realize that you’re going to type the name RenĂ©, and you know the person REALLY likes it when people use the accent on the e. Well how the heck do you make that little accent? It turns out it’s pretty easy, hold down the option key and hit the letter e, let go of option and hit e again. Well that was easy but how are you supposed to remember that? And what about the umlaut over a u? or maybe you want an upside down question mark because you’re typing something in Spanish? Or what about a greek letter sigma? You can’t keep all these in your head.
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