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OS X Tips: Group Related Menu Bar Icons With Bartender

Let’s say you have quite a few active client apps that all want to show their icons in the OS X Menu Bar – so many so that it’s getting real crowded up there!  Take me, for example.  I have fourteen (yes, 14!) active cloud storage clients lusting after my Menu Bar.  (As for “Why?”, that’s a good question – more on this in a future post.)  Whether it’s cloud clients, network utilities, memory management, temp monitoring, multiple display management, or whatever … grouping like Menu Bar items together in their own menu bar could make life easier for you.  Enter Bartender.

Ok, technically speaking, Bartender is not “new”.  It went public beta around a year ago and the official Bartender 1.0 release was last October, 2012.  It’s now up to release 1.0.9 and has evolved into quite a versatile utility.  The license is for one user, on all your Macs.  It’s the kind of little tool that, the more you use it, you keep thinking of better ways to use it.  I like that kind of app, because it continues to feel “new”.   

In my case, I found it immeasurably helpful to have Bartender move all my cloud-related icons together into their own menu bar.  There’s a screenshot of my setup below.

You can move your new Bartender bar to anywhere left to right by just dragging the cog or grab bar sideways – Bartender will remember the desired placement next time you login.  In the Bartender Preferences (follow the red line to the cog) you can, among other things, select:

  • Launch Bartender and the Bartender menubar at login (or not)
  • Autohide the Bartender menubar (or not)
  • Set a hotkey for showing or hiding your Bartender menubar
  • Have Bartender show a badge on icons to highlight when an app has an update, and set when that badge should be dropped
  • Autoupdate Bartender (or not)

You probably don’t have as many icons on your Menu Bar as my example below, but you likely have some software installed where the application has so many menu items that it obscures some menubar icons for other active software – especially if you’re working with a 13″ or smaller screen.  Bartender could be your answer.

About Michael OHara

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