Keep your menu bar clutter free with Bartender

By , Dec 3, 2013

Bartender Open

It’s an unfortunate eventuality that virtually every Mac user has to face: the dreaded problem of having way too many items in your menu bar. So many menu bar items clutter the top right hand corner of your screen, that they’re starting to flood into the app menu items on the left-hand side of the screen. That, folks, is the sign of a serious problem.

But don’t worry, we’ve all been there. For me, it got to the point where it was downright embarrassing when I would take screenshots and my menu bar would appear in the shot. I had a real problem keeping my menu bar organized, and many of you reading this probably do to.

I needed help, but I couldn’t fight this uphill battle without assistance. Thankfully, that helping-hand came in the form of an awesome little Mac utility called Bartender. Bartender is a utility that lets your organize and tidy up the contents of your menu bar with relative ease. It can turn an overweight and overstuffed menu bar into a svelte menu akin to a stock OS X installation. It’s the tool that you need if you’re like me and you sufferer from menu-bar-itis. Watch our full video walkthrough after the break, and you’ll see what I mean.

With stock OS X, you’re extremely limited as to what you can do with the items in your menu bar. You can organize your menu bar to a slight degree, as I showcased in our stock menu bar tutorial, but without any third party utilities you’re significantly restrained when it comes to true menu bar customization.

Bartender Closed

A clean and tidy menu bar thanks to Bartender

Bartender takes a hardcore approach to organization, and it works with any items in your menu bar. Yes, it even works with the stubborn Spotlight and Notification Center menu bar icons that normally can’t be moved. Bartender allows you to hide, rearrange, move items and more. It lets you decide to display items in the menu bar only when they have new updates, or you can select to always make them visible no matter what. The main point I want to emphasize is that you can make Bartender work in a way that works for you. End users are no longer relegated to arbitrary rules; you can make your menu bar look just how you want it to look.

Bartender Preferences

Bartender’s preferences allows to to customize the menu bar to your liking

If you think that you’d benefit from what Bartender does, then you should head over to its official site and download it today. Bartender comes with a ridiculously long four week trial, so there’s nothing for you to lose. If you don’t like it, uninstall it; but something tells me that most will find that they can’t live without it, and you’ll be eager to hand over the $15 asking price for a license.

What do you think? Are you a former menu-bar-iris suffer who has found relief courtesy of Bartender? Share your thoughts, comments, and experiences below.

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  • Ilkzz

    I’m a new Mac user and I appreciate all the Mac tips/tutorials you put up. Thanks!

    • Jay Kay

      Welcome to the real world

      • BoardDWorld

        Yeah, and the strange world that dislikes Apple but still reads related blogs??? Almost like a love affair really. :)

  • Brady Nielsen

    Been using Bartender for a long time. Probably my #1 mac utility. Close seconds are Sleepless, Geektool and when class is in session, Auto Mute.

    • chumawumba

      Have you tried nocturne?

  • Lucas Preti

    Is that a Whatsapp icon on the menu bar?

    • http://bnjm.org/ Jeff Benjamin

      Nope. But I plan to cover every app I use on the Mac as time goes on. Stay tuned.

      • Bob

        Looking forward to it. You’ve introduced me to a few apps over the past few days which have made my life a lot easier.

      • Jay Kay

        Waiting ……. Tiktok tiktok tiktok

      • Hyr3m

        How can you be such a wannabe and a d0uche at the same time ?

      • Jay Kay

        Like this, waiting tiktok tiktok tiktok

      • Hyr3m

        I was going to write “I’m sure you can do better than this” but it’s obvious you can’t…

      • Jay Kay

        ;)

      • Hyr3m

        :D

    • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

      It’s probably Viber for Desktop…

    • Brady Nielsen

      I believe the icon you are looking at is GrowlVoice for Google Voice.

  • Tyler Flowers

    Bartender with iStats and Fantastical creates an awesome menu bar.

    • http://bnjm.org/ Jeff Benjamin

      Agreed. I don’t use iStats as much anymore, but it’s good.

  • Bob

    Awesome app, thanks Jeff.

  • Damian W

    so expensive for such a minor tweak. We all know Mac-Apple products are pricey, but why developers continue to follow this trend with even minor tweaks. Some small tweaks can go up to 40 dollars. With all do respect, but I will be better off spending this much money on Kaspersky or Norton instead.

    • CC-Dog

      Do we buy a computer so that we can buy it an antivirus software to keep it from virus? At least this tweak can possibly increase productivity. All antivirus do it slow down the system and give user useless alerts. It should be a job for the OS to prevent us from having virus without interrupting our work.

      • Damian W

        What, sorry?? First of all, how old is your computer that your antivirus can slow it down? Mine is 3-4 years with i7 processor and I can run multiple anitiviruses without a significant slowdown. So I am guessing it is time to upgrade for you.

        Second of all, anitivurs protects your computer, your computer can not really protect itself without the help of antivirus. For example, I had to wipe down my computer at least 3 times because it got infected, and I did not have antivirus at those times. Now I like to run Kasperksy in the background and I have not had a virus for over a year.

        I don’t see much logic in your statement. However, I can understand your frustration that antivirus is nowadays a huge part of the personal computer.

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        “…I can run multiple anitiviruses without a significant slowdown.”

        Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. In fact (and I could be wrong here and just be reiterating a common misconception) the only thing that will likely infect a Mac is Java. Antiviruses on a Mac will instead add a higher risk of infection due to the fact that if it is a US company that produces the antivirus then they are bound by US law which means they could be forced to introduce a backdoor to allow access to your computer system (although technically speaking Apple could be forced to do this too).

      • Damian W

        Of course I would not run multiple antiviruses. I was just trying to make a point that the era of slow computers is over. Unless you are using 5-10 year old ones.

      • CC-Dog

        Once we start to use an antivirus or some kind of OS optimizer, it defeats the purpose of using a computer. We use computers to enhance our lives, not to maintain a burden.

        Since 10.8 OS X has a built-in safety that will fetch the malware list and automatically remove them, which is essentially what antivirus software does. Windows 8 also have Windows Defender preinstalled.

        Just download files from its official websites or trusted source. I have yet got a single virus.

        I used to use antivirus software, they have yet caught a single virus except for some keygen tools I downloaded. The antivirus I used (MSE, Kaspersky, McAfee) significantly slow down the speed of startup. And Windows Explorer became unresponsive when I browser a folder full of files (especially exe). You might not notice, but if you deactivate them, you will immediately feel the difference.

        Some of the company that makes antivirus also makes virus to promote them, at least in my country.

      • http://hbang.ws/ Adam D

        Hasn’t Defender been part of Windows since Vista? (On top of that, I believe Defender only checks for the most common malware or something like that; Security Essentials being like the full version)

        Also, I’ve never used a (non-testing) Windows machine without antivirus and haven’t noticed any significant speed issues, especially not explorer freezing… even on a fairly low spec’d machine.

      • CC-Dog

        Defender in win8 incorporates MSE.
        It’s one of the better antivirus in Windows since it doesn’t always popup notifications like “You need to update virus database”, “Database has just been upgraded” or “XXX is protecting your computer”

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        True sometimes I appreciate it when Avast pops up with notices similar to that. Other times I just wish it would GTFO.

    • Imahottguy

      Isn’t this the beauty of capitalism though? If you do not think it is worth the money, then do not buy it. If no one believes the price is right, then no one will buy it, forcing the developer to either lower the price or add more utility until it is deemed worthy. I bought this tweak. It works great, and receives updates very often. Many useful apps run in the menubar. I don’t care to see crashplans activity all the time, but with a gesture via BetterTouchTools, I can pop up my secondary menubar to see what is going on. Same thing can be said about Dropbox and many other services. The ability to hide the spotlight and NotificationCenter icons is just icing on the cake :-)

      I think we have all grown too accustomed to the $0.99 App Store model that we now believe that everything should be free or $1. It’s great that some devs can make that work for them and profit from it, but it certainly cannot suit everyone, right?

      • Damian W

        following this trend BetterTouchTools should cost lots of money. It is truly a productive tweak that can make a difference, yet it is free, if I am not mistaken. That’s why I would never buy Bartender. If offers too little to the table, for a high price.

  • Chuck Finley

    Damn Jeff, how many apps do you have running in your menu bar?!

  • Imahottguy

    Looooove bartender. First read about it on Lifehacker and fell in love soon after!

  • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

    Lol, yet another function I take for granted in Windows. This is a sub-part of the Notification Area with a price-tag on it.

  • Palmer Paul

    $15 is overpriced for this…

  • Hyr3m

    Incredible !

    Who thought of that ? Never seen anything quite like it :D

  • Prasoon Singh

    15 dollars is too expensive for this app. Maybe I would buy it if it was like two dollars or even free.

  • Rob_Huska

    I know this post is old now, but I have been using Bartender since this post, and ever since my Messages notifications stopped working. I uninstalled it this morning and now they are back… Has anyone else experienced this? I am on OS X Mavericks. They even stopped showing in Notification Center until after I removed it. And just quitting the app wouldn’t fix it, I had to remove ALL files related to it, but could not find any settings in it that would stop notifications for showing up. Sucks, I really like this app and would definitely would purchase if this issue wasn’t present. Thanks for any help.