Menu Bar Favorites by Frank Petrie

The reason I was drawn to the Mac in the first place was as plain and simple as myself – it was the GUI. I didn’t have to know anything about computers, I could completely focus on creating musical compositions, videos, or my writing. I even taught myself some HTML5 and CSS then carved my work onto stone tablets but mainly it was a tool for creation.

Because of the GUI, I didn’t have a steep learning curve. Being uneducated and seeing as basically the only thing I retain is water, this was an absolute boon.

What really sold me was the concept of the Menu Bar. For me, the Dock is basically eye candy, except for those apps that don’t afford use of the Menu Bar for launching and such.

For me the Menu Bar is indispensable. Depending on your workflow, how many and which icons you have will vary. I thought I would share with you a handful of apps I interact with constantly and solely through the Menu Bar.

  1. Setapp from setapp.com/…
    There isn’t anything that I can’t access through Setapp’s menu icon. Plus, with notifications turned on (and I’m very particular with which notifications I permit) I’m always up-to-date on which apps I have installed, whether they be for regular use, demoing, or Setapps’ latest arrivals. Select any app and receive an explanation of its function, capabilities, and screenshots.
  2. Text Expander from textexpander.com/…
    Text Expander saves me countless time and keystrokes, even though I don’t use it anywhere near as much as people who produce, say, large amounts of business correspondence. The great thing for me is that I can go to the icon, click on it, and down will cascade a list of items, my folders of expandable text and their hotkeys. Again, because of my lack of retention, I never remember most hotkeys, so I just locate the text I need and click on it. This is a godsend.
  3. Clean My Mac X from macpaw.com/… and within Setapp
    MacPaw created this app long before the formation of Setapp. I was a fan of it then and it only keeps getting more invaluable as they continue to add more functionality. Every day, I run a Smart Scan, check for malware, and double check for app updates.
  4. MacUpdater from corecode.io/…
    Another app I use daily. For whatever reason, from time-to-time both the App Store and Clean My Mac X will miss an app update. For me, MacUpdater is the final word that everything that I have is up-to-date.
  5. SoundSource from rogueamoeba.com/…
    SoundSource is an app that no one should be without. Not only do I have access to my global sound settings but I can pick any app and direct its output to my built-in speakers, my headphones, or my external monitors. I can also adjust the EQ for each app individually and set chosen app to a specific volume and even add individual sound FX.
  6. Bartender from macbartender.com/… and within Setapp
    Without Bartender, I couldn’t coral the countless Menu Bar icons that I have installed. Facilitating my love for Menu Bar apps, Bartender allows me to organize my icons into two levels which I can set-up as I wish. For example, I could keep my most used items on the primary level, while placing the occasionally used items on the secondary level, switching between the two at my discretion. And I can also assign various functions by creating hotkeys.

There are some caveats however. The biggest one being which apps do you turn on at log-in. Now I have an iMac that’s plugged into the wall, so I don’t have to worry about any power issues but if you’re on the road with a laptop running on battery power, this could be an issue. As each log-in stakes a chunk of RAM for itself, at log-in I only launch the apps I constantly use daily. I can always launch the other apps as needed.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Apple’s use of the Menu Bar. There’s the clock, access to WiFi, Bluetooth, AirPlay, Time Machine, and others.

So, there you have it. Perhaps the MenuBar doesn’t fit into your workflow. But for me, my workflow would slow to a crawl without it.

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