How to manage stock menu bar items on OS X

By , Nov 30, 2013

MenuBar Stock

When you initially install OS X, there are a few items that are placed in your menu bar by default. There are a couple of ways to go about adding or removing stock OS items from your menu bar in an effort to keep it tidy and organized.

In this tutorial, we’ll cover some of the basic menu bar management tips for stock menu bar items. This includes basic tips on rearranging, removing, and adding items back to the menu bar. We’ve also got a handy video showcasing some of the basic concepts of stock menu bar item management. Have a look inside for more details.

Removing items from the menu bar

Items can be removed from the menu bar by unchecking the menu bar option in the item’s preferences, or by a simple ⌘+drag away from menu bar and release.

Show Mirroring Options Menu Bar

To do so by means of the item’s preferences, open the Preferences app and navigate to the section containing your particular menu bar item. Once there, uncheck the “show in menu bar” option and you should see the associated menu bar item immediately disappear. You can add items back by checking the menu bar option; they should reappear immediately.

MenuBar no AirPlay

Rearranging items in the menu bar

Stock menu bar items can be easily rearranged using the same ⌘+drag mentioned in the removal section above; the only difference is, instead of dragging them out of the menu bar and releasing, you position your cursor on the menu bar at the place you’d like the item to reside and release.

Just like the previous section mentioned, rearranging menu bar items can only be done with stock items. You cannot do this with third party apps that place items in the menu bar. There is another utility that we will cover in a future post that allows you to better manage all menu bar items, and that includes third party items as well.

A few exceptions

While most of the stock menu bar icons such as Time Machine, time, user, Bluetooth, AirPlay, Wi-Fi, sound and various others can be moved and removed with no issue, there are a few exceptions to the rules. Spotlight search can neither be removed or moved to a different area of the screen. It will always occupy the second to right-most portion of your menu bar. The other exception is Notification Center, which is the right-most app icon available in the menu bar. It should be mentioned that you can’t even hide these icons by unchecking their menu bar options in the Preferences app; these two particular menu bar items are here to stay.

That’s about as far as you can take menu bar management without the help of additional utilities. As you can see, managing the menu bar is quite limited with stock OS X, but a whole new can of worms can be opened up with a handy third party utility. We’ll be back with more examples and tips on managing the menu bar in OS X. In the meantime, leave us a comment below discussing how you manage the menu bar items on your system.

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  • Modest

    Jeff is on fire. Continue please! :)

  • ianmaffett

    I like customizing my menu. I especially like adding an eject for my superdrive. Albeit, many new Macs are not currently equipped with Superdrives any longer, this will still work for both external Superdrives as well as third party drives.

    Add an Eject Item to the Menu Bar

    Open a Finder window and navigate to
    /System/Library/Core Services/ Menu Extras.

    Double-click the Eject.menu item in the Menu Extras folder.

    It will show up on your menu bar and can then be reorganized in the same manner.

  • http://adrianliupiano.com/ Adrian Liu

    I use the app Bartender to manage my menubar.

    • http://bnjm.org/ Jeff Benjamin

      Same here. We’ll post more on that in the future.

      • Max

        are you going to make a “what’s on my mac” in the future? i need to see all your apps installed on your mac! :D

      • http://bnjm.org/ Jeff Benjamin

        Yes.

      • Max

        *__* You are the best !

      • Falk M.

        Hey Jeff, what do you refer to for Youtube when you put up tutorials like this in terms of showing Youtube you have the rights to monetize on this?
        You know, you display copyrighted software interfaces, I’d just love to know what you refer to, because either I can’t find anything or I misunderstood something whilst actually reading the TOS and whatever I found concerning OS X. :D

        I know this video isn’t monetized, but you folks running such a big channel on Youtube, I’d hope you know the answer.
        There’s a video I have up that would generate about 5 bucks a month give or take, that’s one free coffee each month at Starbucks for doing nothing whilst giving folks in the community advice.

        I’ve messaged you guys before, but I guess that it didn’t get read. :/
        (hence the shameless reply, which should hopefully pop up as notification in your disqus board :) )

        Sorry for getting off-topic here.

    • J. Rockwell

      +1 Bartender is great. Been using it for quite some time now. Bartender does the job well, and is very stable while taking up very little memory.

  • Robert Goldberg

    Nice!! Thanks Jeff!

    • http://bnjm.org/ Jeff Benjamin

      You’re welcome.

  • Chuck Finley

    Bartender’s great for organising your menu bar items too.

    • http://bnjm.org/ Jeff Benjamin

      Yep, I have a Bartender post in the works for next week, but first things first.

      • Max

        please keep writing such awesome topics about mac’s! maybe you could write about customization of the mac like changing gui. and things to make the desktop look nicer like geektool or bowtie. :)

        i love those mac articles!

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        I second this too. I bought my first Mac this week and these posts have been a great help. Keep them coming…

      • Chris Tangler

        I love Bartender. Makes the right side of the menu bar look really clean while still being able to access those items when need be.

    • Damian W

      there is a better app, thanbartender, at least it is easier to use.It is Straightforward and it is called MenuBar rearranger. Very simple and gets the job done as expected.

  • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

    Couldn’t you just right-click on the menu and select an option like “manage menu items”? Seems to take a lot more clicks to do that on the so-called “easier to use” OS, as it’s all scattered around to each app…

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      At least OS X has a menu bar. In Winblows you just have a clunky interface in the corner of the taskbar which is not easily accessible and without displaying some sort of a popup cannot communicate information to you easily either…

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Good work on the dingbat-logic to defend Apple. It’s extremely difficult for Mac users to move their mouse to the corner of their screen, hence why accessing the notification area isn’t easy. But it’s easier to move your mouse to the top corner of your screen, making the Mac menu more accessible….that’s what you sound like.

        Mac OSX too has to show pop-ups for certain app notifications (like Dropbox), so, not sure how that is less clunky than what we have in Windows. If you’re gonna defend Apple by all means, try coming up with something that at-least doesn’t conflict with conventional logic…

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        There’s nothing that conflicts. What I meant by not being as clunky as Windows it’s he fact that OS X has the notification centre. Whether you like it or not one unified notification area is a lot better than separate implementations for different apps.

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        That’s still subjective, whether you like it or not. The unified notification area is the one stop for getting updates from Desktop applications. Pending notifications remain on-screen until you intereact with your computer. Applications that have a reason to keep a history of notifications (like Dropbox) can do that, and accessing them is just a click away.

        Though, I agree in regards to start-screen apps; where notifications are shown as separate live tiles. To view them, you’ll always have to scroll to that app’s live tile (unless you bring it to the furthest left of the start-screen). Whereas the notification center in Mac OSX, if you have only a few pending notifications, responding is faster.

  • smtp25

    WAIT wait a minute, what this OS X crap? I’m all for the iPad and iPhone but thats where it ends ..