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iOS & Mac reviews

Bartender: tidy up your Mac menu bar

Bartender is a great Mac app that cleans up any menu bar items into a neat sub-menu, bringing calm to your screen

Bartender, by Surtees Studios, is a natty wee Mac menu bar app that whisks up some or all of the clutter over on the right hand side of your menu bar and keeps it hidden away behind an icon of your choice. It’s perfect for keeping in check all those handy third party apps that put an icon up there, and can even manage the system items like the Airport, Date & Time, Bluetooth and Notification Centre menus.

For example, without Bartender my menu bar looks like this:

mac-menu-bar

With Bartender running I can reduce all of that to just one icon:

mac-menu-bar-tidy

Or I can tweak the settings to keep the most essential icons visible, like this:

mac-menu-bar-organizer

The app comes with a selection of icons to choose from, or you can create and use your own. Clicking the icon brings up another row containing all your other menu items, and clicking on one of those brings up it’s menu, like so:

mac-menu-bar-manager

The settings screen contains all the menu item appearance controls:

mac-menu-bar-icon-hide

Select each menu item, select where you want it to live, and that’s all there is to it; it’s that simple.

Bartender is in beta right now and available for free from their website. Once it’s out of beta you’ll have to buy a license to update to the final version but if you buy one while it’s still in beta it’s half price, less than £5.

Being in beta also means you shouldn’t be surprised to maybe find a bug here or there, but the big ones have all been ironed out and the most recent builds are perfectly stable. I highly recommend you pick it up and get some calm back in your menu bar.

And now, an insight into how my brain works

I tried turning off both Notification Centre and Spotlight, so the Date & Time is right up against the right edge of the screen and I didn’t like it, it felt unbalanced and ugly. I’m used to the clock being snuggled up next to the pleasingly angled Spotlight magnifying glass but since I got Alfred I rarely use Spotlight, and certainly never invoke it by clicking the icon, appealing as it is.

I had originally taken Notification Centre out too because the gesture is more intuitive and faster for me and I didn’t want unused icons up there. But, aesthetics are winning the battle and as I can’t (yet?) shift one of the other icons over there manually, I’ve reinstated Notification Centre for the balance.

I’ll probably change back to the Spotlight icon in the end, it just feels better…

Thanks for reading!

By Owen

I'm a Glasgow-born stills photographer and camera operator living and working in London, UK. As well as cameras I'm into writing, gaming, general geekery and beers by Brew Dog.

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