Must Have Menu Bar Applications 36


Must Have Menu Bar Applications


It has been a long while since I have done a “Top X” post. I do enjoy writing them and looking for new, different and most used applications. Its fun all of the research side. If you can cast you mind back I have previously written about the Top 50 Terminal Command and the Top 100 Mac Applications. Theses were bot very successful and a lot of people enjoyed reading them. This time I am going to write about Must Have Menu Bar Applications.

The menu bar, if you didn’t know, is that long strip across the top of your window. It contains space for adding your own little applications to do various tasks for you. This include a variety of things, from the mundane such as telling you how many unread emails you have, to the complex such as cleaning out your computer. Each application posted here is designed to run from the menu bar and not as an application. Programs which run in the dock, but have a menu bar icon do not count. They have to run 100% from the menu bar. If you think I have missed off a must have app please leave a comment below.

Bokeh application icon.1) Bokeh

The first application on the list, Bokeh, is the application designed to free up your CPU cycles by freezing out applications, or all of your applications. Its great for any renderings that you might be doing and you want to do them just that little bit quicker. I have written about it previously here.

Breakaway application icon2) Breakaway

Although I am not a big user of this application Breakaway is designed to mute and disable your speakers/iTunes and audio jack when you unplug or plug in your headphones. Useful if you end up unplugging your headphones a lot.

Caffeine application icon.3) Caffeine

When you watch a lot of videos or movies on youtube or similar, your screensaver when you are watching your video may pop in. Very annoying. Caffeine is designed to give your computer a coffee boost and stops you Mac going to sleep. Useful since you don’t have to move the mouse every 5 minutes and interrupting your viewing experience. If you want more information I have written about it here.

camouflage application icon4) Camouflage

If you clutter up your desktop you may want to de-clutter it quickly and easily. Camouflage is designed to remove all of desktop icons from view and give you your wallpaper back. Good is you are doing screen casts or productions involving your desktop.

Checkoff Application icon

5) Check Off

Although iCal and Mail to-do list is very useful, an even better version of this is Check Off a menu bar application designed to give you a check-able list of all of your task which you can quickly organise and check off.

Coconut Wi Fi application icon6) Coconut Wifi

The WiFi menu from Apple is good, but it could be better. Although you can press option to get more information it is not very visual and useful. Coconut WiFi is designed to give you more information and be better at informing you about the networks floating over your head.

Default application icon7) Countdown Clock

Very simple little application Countdown Clock counts down from one time to another. Great if you are waiting for lunch and you want to no exactly how long you have to wait. It is only simple but very useful if you are waiting for lunch.

Digg updater application icon8) Digg Update

If you are addicted to Digg like I am, Digg Updater is a great little app to receive all of the latest updates and stories from the Digg site. Hopefully I will see another of my stories on Digg some time soon.

ejector application icon9) Ejector

A simple little menu bar application, Ejector, enables you to click eject disks, iPods etc from your computer. Simpler that going into finder and pressing the eject button. Quite a lot of people use this one regularly.

expandrive application icon10) Expandrive

Expandrive is very useful if you have a remote server or computer and you want to use the more visual Finder method of upload and changing files rather than Terminal or the command line. I have written about this little application here, if you would like to read more.

feed animal application icon11) Feed Animal

A cool little application that displays RSS/Atom feeds in your menu bar. Good if you only subscribe to a couple of feeds. Added bonus of it sending updates to growl. Feed Animal. If you have quite a lot of feeds this sort of applictions isn’t for you.

Fuzzy clock application icon12) FuzzyClock

Most people I know when they read a clock will say 10 past four, instead of 4:08PM. FuzzyClock is a little application which fuzzes up the time and make it a bit more human. Different to the normal menu bar apps you find.

Geektool application icon13) Geek Tool

Although this does have a pane in System Preferences. Geek Tool is designed to display geeky stuff on your desktop, such as Terminal outputs, UNIX logs and pictures to name a few.

Gmail notifier application icon14) Gmail Notifier

Most people use Gmail, so Gmail Notifier shows you alerts in your menu bar, so you can see when you have new Gmail messages or upcoming Google Calendar events without having to open a web browser.

Grab Up application icon15) Grab Up

I like Grab Up. Its a mixture of Grab to take pictures and [Insert Favourite Image Sharing Site Here]. You simply take your picture, magic then happens as it uploads it to their servers and you can then share it with your friends though IM. I have written a post about this application previously, you can find it here.

growltunes application icon16) Growl Tunes

From the team over at Growl, which produces one of the best applications for the Mac, Growl Tunes allows you to display the current track in Growl and allows you to rate it from the menu bar. Small and simple.

iAlertu application icon17) iAlertU

A very cool little tool that sends off all of the alarm bells when any one moves you MacBook. Funny to use in the office or at home. It also takes a picture of the offender so you can punish them later. Not overly useful if you actually want to keep your Mac secure from thieves. iAlertU.

InsomniaX application icon18) InsomniaX

Similar to Caffeine InsomniaX is designed to keep your Mac awake. It is designed to keep you computer up and running even if you close the lid on your laptop or trying to make it go to sleep through other methods. Very useful if you want to keep you computer constantly running, but does use more electrical power and can cause overheat on a Macbook i you close the lid. You can read more about it from me here.

Default application icon19) IP Broadcaster

A very simple menu bar application. IP Broadcaster displays you IP address, both WAN and LAN in your menu bar. Very useful if you are programming, or sorting out configuration files and you need reminding of your IP address.

iPaste application icon20) iPaste

If you are a power user on your Mac and you do a lot of copy and pasting you may want to increase the size of you clipboard. There are various applications that can do this for you but iPaste is a lot simpler and cleaner.

Isolator application icon21) Isolator

If you have the attention span of a second and you can’t help checking facebook or your twitter feed you may want to isolate yourself from distractions. Isolator enables you to block out other applications by covering them up or blurring them from view.

istat application icon22) iStat

Probably one of the best application you can have for the menu bar. iStat enables you monitor pretty much anything from the menu bar. CPU, RAM, Disk, Network as well as a whole load of other things. You can see my taking on this little app here.

Mail unread menu application menu23) Mail Unread Menu

A simple application that checks mail to see how many unread message you have in mail. Mail Unread Menu is useful if you hide the dock and can’t always see it.

Mainmenu application menu icon24) MainMenu

One of my favourite apps for making sure your Mac is in tip top condition. MainMenu gives you all of your option in one place to keep you log files clean, cached cleared and permissions repaired. I wrote about it earlier today if you would like to read more.

MenuCalenderclock application icon25) MenuCalenderClock

MenuCalendarClock is an iCal compatible menu calendar and a configurable menu clock.It enables you to quickly add, edit and view events for the menu bar.

menuprefs application icon26) MenuPrefs

MenuPrefs is a simple menu-bar application that sits in your System-wide menu-bar space, giving you a richly featured alternative access to your commonly used System Preference Panes. You can specify what panes to show, and even in what order to show them.

27) MUmenu

Developed by the MacUpdate site, MUMenu is designed to let you know which applications need updating from the MacUpdate site.

nnw unread menu application icon28) NNW Unread Menu

Done by the same people that did number 23, NNW Unread Menu is designed to show in you menu bar the number of unread headlines in Net News Wire.

nocturne application icon29) Nocturne

I reviewed this menu bar app last month. Nocturne is designed to send you Macs screen into a state where it is easy to view and see during bright sunlight or in the day. I use this one a lot since I site outside with my Mac during the day.

quickpass application icon30) Quickpass

Secure passwords are hard to generate, the best ones are the random ones which contain a lot of different characters and symbols. If you want a bit of help with password generation QuickPass can generate some passwords for you. You can read more about this menu bar here.

quicksilver application icon31) Quicksilver

Not much needs to be said about Quicksilver. Although I don’t use it that much, a lot of people swear by it. Quicksilver for the uninformed enables you to do action quickly and simply without a lot of user interaction.

server siren application icon.32) Server Siren

If you have a webserver or an internal server, and you a bit addicted to uptime and response time you may want to checkout Server Siren. Its a little application that pings your servers to make sure it is up and running. I prefer Pingdom myself.

site status application icon33) Sites Status

Very similar to the previous application except this application is free. Site Status pings you sites to make sure they are up and running. Site Status.

Smart reporter application icon34) SMARTReporter

A cool little menu bar application that shows you the SMART data for your hardrives from the menu bar. Although I haven’t had any drives that showed bad SMART data before they have failed. May be useful to some people. SMARTReporter.

smcfancontrol application icon35) smcFanControl

One of the most useful apps I have used one laptop. smcFanControl enables you to control what speeds you fans run at. Very good if you laptop or computer runs a bit hot and you want to pump up the fan speed to cool your computer down a bit.

Spirited Away application icon36) Spirited Away

A little menu bar application that checks an applications activity and hides it when it has become inactive for a certain period of time. Spirtied Away, cool for clearing clutter.

SSHkeychain application icon37) SSHKeychain

A cool little menu bar that will come in useful for people who are security conscious and want to keep their connection as secure as possible. SSHKeychain enables you to manage and load you SSH keys when connecting to the Internet.

Tinycal Application Icon38) Tinycal

Similar to the previous calender applications, TinyCal integrates with Google Calender. It can show multiple months, use custom calendars, and show holidays and personal calendars.

Todos application icon39) Todos

As you fill up your computer with more and more applications it becomes difficult to find the application you want. Todos, is a quick application launcher which finds every application on you computer and displays there icons in an easy to use interface. It says it is only tested on Tiger but works fine on my Leopard machine.

Default application icon40) Uptime Menu Bar

It does nothing more than show the uptime of the application. Pretty simple. Uptime Menubar, I have linked to MacUpdate due to the host site being down at time of writing.

url well application icon41) URLwell

I really like this little menu bar app. I am for every filling up my desktop with links to websites which I want to visit but don’t yet deserve a bookmark in Firefox. Just drag the link to URLwell’s menu bar icon and it’s saved. When you look at it, it can be removed from the list, or if you prefer, it’ll just be checked off to mark that you’ve seen it, and remain in the list.

wow watcher application icon42) WOW Watcher

If you are addicted to WOW, or have an interesting know when you favourite realm or server is only WOW Watcher can do that for you. It is designed to check your servers and seem if they are up. Boasts features of Growl notifications, auto-launch and login, and capable of tracking any amount of servers.

xmenu application icon43) Xmenu

Designed to enable you to get to folders and files on your operating system quicker than you normally can. Xmenu enables you to view, as if in Finder, folder structures and files for quick launch and navigation.

xscope application icon44) Xscope

Of you are an application designer your Mac will not be the same without Xscope. It boasts a lot of small but useful little programs that can help anyone find dimensions of buttons, colours, sizes and closeup views of anything on their screen. Although it is a little bulky it is very useful.

you control tunes application icon45) You Control Tunes

Last but not least on the grand list of menu bar applications is You Control Tunes. One of my favourite applications it enables you to control pretty much everything for playing music in iTunes. Rating, tracks, albums. A good little application that is well worth a download.

There we have it. Forty five must have menu bar applications. Although you don’t need to install every single one of them, that would kill your RAM, and there is a couple that do the same job. A lot of them are useful in expanding the functionality of your Mac. If you think I have missed off menu bar applications, please leave a comment. I did originally have 50. But for one reason or another as I complied this list they got removed.

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36 Responses to “Must Have Menu Bar Applications”

  1. 1

    Okay, who’s going to be the brave soul to install all 45 of these? A few look interesting, but most of them, I have widgets that do the same things.

    Comment By WTL on July 10th, at 9:44 pm

  2. 2

    No one is really. But they are 45 good menu bar apps.

    Comment By admin on July 10th, at 9:50 pm

  3. 3

    I’d like to see a menu bar with 45 apps installed!

    Comment By Erikmitk on July 10th, at 11:04 pm

  4. 4

    Would be a very slow Mac. :)

    Comment By admin on July 10th, at 11:07 pm

  5. 5

    Moment of silence, please. At #12, Fuzzy Clock, the difference between know and no was abandoned in the cold of the non-grammar-checked Internet. It died a quick but humiliating death.

    Comment By Mary on July 10th, at 11:27 pm

  6. 6

    what is with butler ?

    Comment By audo on July 11th, at 12:27 am

  7. 7

    does anyone know the URL for: 33) Sites Status

    Comment By Paul on July 11th, at 2:19 am

  8. 8

    Thanks for the heads up Paul, I have added the URL.

    Comment By admin on July 11th, at 8:00 am

  9. 9

    Good list, very interesting apps I must say; however, I would recommend MenuMeters over iStat. it might not look as pretty, but it has a much smaller footprint than iStat.

    Comment By John Mahlman IV on July 11th, at 3:21 pm

  10. 10

    Must Have Menu Bar Applications For Mac OS X Leopard

    Comment By web design on July 11th, at 6:28 pm

  11. 11

    [...] Menu Bar Mac Applications This is a test post. To test the waters. How do links work? Menu Bar Mac Applications. [...]

    Comment By Menu Bar Mac Applications « Blackmane’s Weblog on July 12th, at 9:54 am

  12. 12

    if only mac had windows like button to expand these menu bar extras icons…

    Comment By MacPhobia on July 30th, at 9:21 am

  13. 13

    you must have a 30″ :)

    Comment By mitch on August 2nd, at 10:46 pm

  14. 14

    Nice list! If I might add one: Onyx

    A multifunction utility for Mac OS X (PowerPC and Intel). It allows you to verify the Startup Disk and the structure of its System files, to run misc tasks of system maintenance, to configure the hidden parameters of the Finder, Dock and of some of Apple’s own applications, to delete caches, to remove a certain number of files and folders that may become cumbersome and more.

    Free and available at

    Comment By Microtransactions on October 12th, at 12:02 pm

  15. 15

    Is it too much to ask for you to read your own writing before you post it? Absolutely painful to read this.

    Comment By frank on November 2nd, at 10:27 pm

  16. 16

    #9) Ejector is superfluous; MacOS X already has an eject menulet. I found it in a book. Yeah, no nerd cred., and I bought the book used, too. Go to:
    Macintosh Hard Drive–>Library–>Core Services–>Menu Extras & double-click on the Eject Menu icon.

    Source: MacOS X: The Missing Manual, Tiger Edition, by David Pogue, O”Reilly Press, 2005.

    Comment By ed on November 7th, at 8:58 am

  17. 17

    Yeah, Ed, you’re wrong. It’s not superfluous at all. The included Eject menulet created by Apple only lets you eject your CD/DVD. It does not let you see any other mounted devices such as USB drives, hard drive partitions, disk images, etc. It also does not have the option to Eject All. Apple’s included Menu Extra is weak in comparison to Ejector.

    Comment By Haruspex on November 17th, at 4:08 pm

  18. 18

    What about the non-geeky menulets (is such a thing possible?!). I mean, what about menulets that interact with the real world and don’t handle files, folders, system processes, background apps, etc.?

    A stock ticker such as Stock Menulet is a good example. Menulets like this bring the real world into our geeky lives!

    Other examples?

    Comment By Jerry Tanglewood on March 19th, at 2:36 pm

  19. 19

    Thanks for the long & wonderful menubar list

    But be aware -
    coconutWiFi both 2.0 & 3 beta – will crash your mac (due to threads problems), and it took me some time to find the problematic software..

    I found a an identical substitute called BwanaDik & works flawlessly -

    Comment By Ron on June 25th, at 11:19 pm

  20. 20

    I swear by Quicksilver. If it’s not on, i have no idea where to find things! And it’s free…just like the other best things in life.

    Comment By calgary graphic design on July 15th, at 7:47 am

  21. 21

    Better than SMCFanControl is Lobotomo Fan Control:

    It lets you set a target temperature at which the fan will speed up, rather than permanently increasing the speed of the fan.

    The algorithm of when the fan starts increasing is not ideal, but still does the basic job of having the minimum fan speed usually, with the fan only increasing under heavy load / on hot days.

    Really an essential for any Mac laptop or mini.

    Comment By Paulette on September 5th, at 9:40 pm

  22. 22

    Great apps. Thanks a lot.

    Comment By AAA on October 12th, at 2:59 pm

  23. 23

    Does anyone know of an app/utility that will allow amalgamating menubar items to save screen real estate (for those of us who want to install more menubar items but don’t have a 30″ screen…. lol). Something like Overflow 2.5, which fulfills this function for the Dock.

    Comment By Berge on October 19th, at 4:11 am

  24. 24

    amalgamating menubar items

    I was also looking for one

    This is the only option right now

    Comment By Ron on December 13th, at 10:26 am

  25. 25

    the UptimeInMenuBar application doesn’t work?

    Comment By Mychael on December 17th, at 11:25 pm

  26. 26

    There’s a glitch with your footer.. figured you’d prolly wanna know

    Comment By Ronny Elsayed on December 25th, at 7:05 am

  27. 27

    Do you have to start each and every post with “Hey” and a brief introduction surrounding the fact that you’re writing something? It gets old very quickly.

    As for the roundup itself, well rounded up. Except for the fact that you haven’t really done any testing! As others have pointed out, UptimeInMenuBar doesn’t work properly after Tiger. You’re supposed to be able click on it to get a reading, via awk, of the system load. That no longer works.

    Comment By Rich on February 1st, at 3:52 pm

  28. 28

    Oh, and right above the text entry box for replies, apparently “trike” is a new HTML tag.

    Comment By Rich on February 1st, at 3:54 pm

  29. 29

    To adjust the screens readibility you don´t need to run a seperate app like nocturne. Just use the built-in shortcut: ctrl + alt + cmd +8 (press all at the same time). This one inverts the screen colours.

    Comment By Toby on February 24th, at 1:17 pm

  30. 30

    If all these were really “must-have” apps apple would own them…

    Comment By Luis on May 12th, at 5:59 am

  31. 31

    I reckon building a website with 950 or 960 px site width. This way it shows up properly having a 1024 px width screen. I appreciate various desktops and macs come with wider screens, but you also have to factor while in the fact that net books and smart phones now have smaller screens. Fashion is about layout, not width and you could easily add a theme or background in your margins from the main website that can make the blog look and feel really cool.

    Comment By Wally Baise on August 13th, at 1:47 pm

  32. 32

    Great list!

    I my self swear by Xmarks for hasslefree bookmarks syncing between browsers on multiple machines, check it out. (It does have a menubar app though it is so efficient that I never actually need to access it)

    Comment By Stefano on October 23rd, at 11:40 am

  33. 33

    I wish there was more options for Twitter apps. I personally use Hahlo as a Fluid menu extra, but wish there was something else out there. Twitmenulet is alright, but kinda lame too.

    Comment By jamEs on December 9th, at 2:14 am

  34. 34

    Anyone know something which simply checks in with a mail thing using IMAP, and displays the unread count? It looks like the one in this list for use with Mail does what I want it to, but it has its own client and everything. All I want is the counter.

    Comment By Timothy on July 16th, at 10:46 pm

  35. 35

    Isn’t there a menubar app which gives you a dropdown list of active apps that you can use to select for use? I do not like how the dock no longer puts active items at the bottom of the dock. I prefer the old Mac way of a dropdown tool from the menubar. Thanks…

    Comment By Mark Hiles on August 5th, at 6:11 am

  36. 36

    if you love menubar apps and if you have so much menubar apps installed (perhaps all 45 menubar apps) but only a 13″ display (or less) than you propably have a problem: you can’t see all your menubar apps because the menu of the current application hides most of your menubar apps.

    But there is a solution for this problem: try AccessMenubarApps ( By using a Shortcut or a mouse gesture you can quickly reduce the current application menu and you can see all your installed useful menubarapps.

    Comment By Orti on August 6th, at 1:12 pm