Taming your menu bar with Bartender

I am a long-time Mac user. I also like things to be convenient and easy to get to. Perhaps that is why my Dock looks like this:

There are 56 icons in my Dock. I try to thin it out occasionally, but those are 56 things that I think I need to be able to get to without searching. My everyday Mac is a 17 inch MacBook Pro, so I have a lot more screen real estate than an 11 inch MacBook Air. Even the 15 inch MacBook Pro, non-Retina has a much narrower screen.

I keep 32 items in the Favorites section of my sidebar:


Perhaps that is why I keep 32 items in the right end of my menu bar! Click on the graphic to get a better view!


I reduced the width of these pictures to 650 pixels so that I could show you the effect of keeping so many items in my menubar. If your eyesight was really good, you would be able to notice that I am showing you how they look in the Finder. That is good because the Finder has the smallest number of menu items in the left side of the menu bar. Use an application like Adobe Photoshop Elements and you go from seven items in the left side of the menu bar to eleven--and just about all of the words are longer. That means some of my Menu Bar icons will disappear when I am using an application with lots of menu items! You can click on the graphic to get a better view of my menu bar.

While I am certain that most of you don’t have nearly so many items in your menu bar, I suspect you could probably do with a few more to make your computing life easier.

To add to my problem, I do lots of presentations so I am frequently lowering the resolution of my screen when it is displayed on an LCD projector or on a large-screen TV. This is what the menu bar looks like on my projector:


These are the missing icons.

And this is what it looks like when it is attached to a monitor:

These are the missing icons:

I have little choice in where the icons are displayed in the menu bar. When they disappear, I am simply not able to use them.

When these kinds of issues appear in the Macintosh, there is usually a developer who has the same problem and he writes an application to solve it. In this case I discovered
Bartender from Surtees Studios. When Bartender is installed an icon that looks like an ellipsis (&hellipWinking is added to my menu bar.


When you click the ellipsis the rest of your menu bar icons appear in a bar under the visible items:

ellipsis bar

Notice the small gear at the end of the lower bar. Click it and you can configure Bartender:

ellipsis preferences

These are some of the available choices in the Preferences menu:


When I am in the Menu Items area, I can choose how Bartender will interact with each icon. I want to always see the Time Machine icon, so I have chosen Nothing (see above). In the case of Universal Access, I don’t use it too much, so I choose to have it appear in the Bartender Bar:


There are many more ways to adjust Bartender. It is easy to configure.

While many applications are free, developers often earn their living or make extra money by developing applications and selling them. In the case of Bartender, there is a four week free trial available. After that, the charge for it is $15.00. I really appreciate the functionality of Bartender, so the price seems fair to me. If you set your screen to a lower resolution or if you use an LCD projector, I suspect $15.00 will seem like a good price!


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