Mac Power Users 471: Menu Bars, Docks & Startup Apps, Oh My!


I use the Brave Browser. I tried it just to troubleshoot a network problem at work and I have continued to use it because it is extremely fast. Who knew all those ads and trackers slowed things down so much?

It does break some things, like yammer conversations or stream videos embedded in a SharePoint page, but I can live with that.


One very interesting menu bar well … app / utility you guys didn’t mention is BitBar ( It’s the next step and requires some scripting knowledge to be useful. But if you ever quickly wanted to have some custom content up in your menubar (because ie. no-one has made the app that you need yet) then this is a great little tool.

Once you install the app you can either download some plugins from their directory (a bit limited), or you can rather quickly write a little script that outputs some simple text that bitbar turns into a little menu bar app. (basically you can show information and offer a dropdown menu with more details).

While working I have 2-3 of those plugins active. Working as a developer this is mainly monitoring our test server, showing my TODOs that others assigned me and the number of support emails waiting to be answered.

(Attention: nerd rabbit hole!!)


ha ha … I still do that :slight_smile:
I just try not to have too many menu bar icons, lol


DropZone question here…

I tried to install the Google Drive uploader add-on for DZ, and after I gave it my credentials, it still won’t upload files. It says the session “timed out” or “expired.” Once a week, I have to upload one file to a Google Drive, and I don’t want to sync the folder to my computer because it would take up a ton of space on my laptop SSD. Any hints?




My favorite that you missed is jumpcut which allows me to have 30 things in my clipboard which I use constantly as I do web development


I just installed the add-on, added my credentials, and was able to create a folder and upload a file.
Do you have 2FA enabled? Maybe that is an issue? (I don’t.)


Same here. I especially dislike the week after Apple’s keynotes where almost every podcast episode is the same (repeat Keynote, point out almost exactly the same stuff, mostly complain about the same…).


A while ago, I cleaned my dock and manu bar to just show the stuff I need very often.

I got rid of everything, just ~/Downloads (because I can see the download progress bar) and the trash (because…I am used to it) are there. The Dock gets populated my programs I start and I always use Alred fot that. Sometimes I considering removing the whole dock.

Menu bar:
Bartender hides almost everything.
Except information I often need:

  • iStat Menus with
    • CPU usage
    • active graphics card
    • memory
    • SSD space
    • temperature
  • Little Snitch’s network monitor (up/down speed)
  • ForeCast Bar
  • Time
  • Battery indicator (FruitJuice)

Hidden by Bartender, because I either don’t use them much or haven’t decided on removing them. Many stay there because bartender shows them in the manu bar if something is going on. Could get rid of some, but since they are hidden, I don’t care much.

  • SetApp (not used, could remove it)
  • 1Password (not used, could remove it. I use 1P through Alfred or browser shortcut)
  • Ampthetamine (rarely used)
  • Hazel (is a background task, once in a while I manually start a rule)
  • PopClip (works through marking text, only here if I want to add something)
  • Karabiner-Elements (enables the Hyper-Key, icon useless)
  • duet (sometimes I use my iPad as a drawing tablet)
  • Alfred (not used, Alfred only through shortcut)
  • ProXPN (don’t use VPN at home or work, so rarely used)
  • ScreenFlow (rarely used)
  • Adobe Creative Cloud (just for updates)
  • Dropbox (not used)
  • Revisions (“Time Machine” for Dropbox, rare use)
  • CleanMyMac X (will remove it)
  • Drobo Widget (will remove it)
  • WorldClock (rarely used)
  • Resilio Sync (shows in the menu bar when active, then dissapears)
  • Rocket (not really used)
  • TextExpander (not used)
  • TextSoap (just once in a while)
  • Shifty (keeps NightShift from messing with my color managed workflow, turning it off in PS, LR and others)
  • Backblaze (just because I have it)
  • Keyboard Maestro (not found any use)
  • Spotlight (not used)
  • Siri (not used)
  • WiFi/Network (all my networks are already set up, rarely setting up a new one)


Great episode. I made a quick list of at least 10 menu bar items to check out. (And, since they asked, I only use launchbar to launch calculator, which happens in my work machine to be one smooth mouse motion. As for that Venn diagram; I want to love Touch Bar but don’t, yet – maybe I need Better Touch Tool.)

Menubar applets I use that were not mentioned (organized by Bartender, natch):

Jump Desktop – my Screens replacement which for me just works; I also like that when a screen is linked to, the linked-to machine’s menubar icon turns red

SoftRAID – As far as I can tell, the “new” logic of storage on modern mac systems is to keep your system storage lean and mean (so SSD), and put your larger data needs on external devices connected via Thunderbolt 3. In my case, I have terabytes of RAW photos that I keep and want backed up, and while I’ve experimented with a NAS, I think I like DAS (direct attached storage) better. SoftRAID is a pretty great way to blow past individual drive limits, in my case using RAID-5. But of course, given the added complexities and risks of RAID, keeping an eye on drive health is useful, so SoftRAID’s menu app keeps its status updated, as well as being a convenient way to launch the app

FreeSpace – I like both knowing how much disk space I have on my primary drive (you know, every now and then crazy hidden caches “take over” that space) but also having a “in one place” way to eject attached volumes. I am constantly merging photo libraries or “sneaker net-ing” (copying) data from home to work, and I like just going to the same place on the menu bar to eject volumes, as compared with searching for the mounted volume somewhere on my messy finder desktop.

Preference panels I use that were not mentioned (I also use Quark Updater):

SteerMouse – I also had, back in the day, a bad experience with a Logitech preference panel; I have some memory of needing to get pretty fine grain in deleting preferences and the like before any input device would work again. But I’ve never had a problem with this preference panel app. And it allows me to do unusual things, on a granular basis. For example, I can reverse how the scroll wheel inputs info in Autocad; useful because when I converted to “scroll direction: natural” on the trackpad, it made zooming in Autocad backward. Steer Mouse fixes that UI mis-match. I’ve also used USB Overdrive which is also a great preference pane app.

Finally, Dock thoughts:

  • Bottom-hid 4evah
  • I keep my most-used apps there, and launch from there (as the Mothership intended?) Apps not there I launch via spotlight search; as for me command-spacebar is so easy (except for calculator; probably because I have so many C apps … typing gives me first CCC, then some Canon printer, then Calendar, before spotlight suggests “Calcuator”).
  • One thing I try to do for muscle memory is to keep the dock icons grouped by “use” and more or less in the same order on my various machines (home, laptop, work, etc.) – something I also do with menu bar items via Bartender

Looking forward to demoing my list of stuff David and Stephen outlined – many thanks!


Great episode, David and Stephen. Reminded me of the rapid fire Tips routines with Sparks and Terpstra. I especially appreciate Stephen’s matter of fact, non-judgmental attitude (and his chuckle!) For example

‘[insert app name] is not great but I use it.’
‘iTunes is not as bad as people say.’

When I need strong judgments I go to Twitter!


You can turn the icon off in Preferences | Misc.


You can create an alias for calculator and name it something else that doesn’t begin with C to speed things up a bit.


Another great episode. I ended up installing Rocket (and upgrading to the full version) and have been making good use of it so far.

Some other gems to add to the list:

  • Displays — This is a great app if you switch monitor resolutions regularly and/or if you’re often connecting to external displays or projectors. I tend to adjust the resolution of my monitor based on what type of work I’m doing (e.g. low res for responding to email, high res for video editing work) and used Displays to add global keyboard shortcuts to frequently used resolutions. Very handy.
  • MacUpdater — Not to be confused with the MacUpdate service/app, this is a great menu bar app that works really well for keeping Mac apps up to date, including those that come from the App Store and those that are downloaded directly from the developer.
  • Monosnap — My screen capture app of choice. If you’ve ever used Skitch, this one is quite similar (and better in many ways). The free version is very capable. I ended up upgrading to the paid version to support the developer and to be able to use cloud services, notably Dropbox.
  • AppTamer — Can be used to limit the CPU usage of apps and background activities. For example, I sometimes find that Mail and Backblaze use more than their fair share of CPU resources and have capped their usage to keep the fans on my iMac from spinning up. I also sometimes use AppTamer to temporarily reduce CPU usage. For example, if I’m exporting from ScreenFlow and want to temporarily do something processor intensive without cancelling the export.

I recommend experimenting with option clicking on menu bar apps. This works for both system and third-party apps. For example, option clicking on the Wi-Fi will provide more information on the current network and option clicking on the temperature shown by iStat Menus will temporarily show °F instead of °C (or vice versa).

Speaking of iStat Menus, it’s worth spending some time (but not too much time :wink:) going through the customization options. It’s impressive how much can be customized and the degree of customization that’s available.


Great tip. I do this with most apps regularly, it’s a great way to master the ins and outs of each app.


Yet another thing I use Alfred for!


@ismh great episode, what screenshot software for mac are you using?


After writing my menu bar icon list, I cleaned up the ones I wasn’t using. Didn’t bother me, since hidden by Bartender, but now I narrowed them down to the ones I actually use, even if seldom.


The built-in tools are enough for my needs.


No, I don’t. Not sure what the issue is. I’m going to try an IFTTT route instead.


This was fun. I liked hearing about the random stuff you have installed in addition to the former recommendations.

Similarly to David and Katie’s schedule, I like these episodes and also like that other kinds of episodes come between them. :slight_smile: