25 Essential Menu Bar Applications for Mac

Last Updated: March 3, 2016

Mac’s menu bar is the perfect place to show little tidbits of information or to give users quick access to apps’ features. That’s why many apps include menu bar access. But there is only so much room at the menu bar that it’s not practical to put everything there. What are the essential applications that you should have at the menu bar? Let’s find out.

OS X Apps

Let’s start with the obvious ones. Mac OS X comes with a set of menu bar applications. The ones that I think should be present are Clock, WiFi, Bluetooth, Notifications, Spotlight, and Time Machine. All of them are customizable via System Preferences.

A quick way to find any item in System Preferences is by using its search function. Type in the name of the item or the topic that you want to find, and it will be highlighted.

Menubar -bb- System Preferences search

Bartender 2

The next important item that you should have in your menu bar is Bartender 2 (US$ 15.00). The app do one simple thing, but it’s so useful and obvious that it’s a wonder that Apple didn’t include the feature with OS X. Bartender gives you a place to store all other menu bar items so they won’t clutter the menu bar. It means that you have more room to add more items there.

Menubar -bb- without Bartender

Menubar -bb- with bartender

You can opt to put an item inside Bartender or not. The ones that you will frequently access should always be visible while the rest can be hidden away. You can also hide Bartender itself and set a shortcut key to summon it.


For calendar, I replace Mac OS X stock app with the better revamped Fantastical (US$ 49.99). This beautiful 2015 Apple Design Award Winner will not only give you quick access to a mini calendar window but also let you create events and reminders quickly using natural language.

Menubar -bb- Fantastical

The app syncs seamlessly with its iOS counterpart and Apple’s iCloud Calendar, supports location-based alert and automatically add and display maps for your events, and can be summoned using keyboard shortcuts.

Boom 2

Even if you don’t have the ears of an audiophile, you can tell that your Mac’s sound falls into the category of just audible. Boom 2 (US$ 19.99) is the fix. It will analyze your system and optimize the sound based on the result. It will sit silently on the menu bar, and you can use it to increase or decrease the global volume of your system.


If you open the main window, you gain access to more control, including options to apply effects, and switch between different sound settings like Jazz, Rock, Classic, Hip Hop, House, Movie, etc. You can also use the iOS app as the remote control.


Working long hours in front of the computer screen can give you severe eye strain. You need help from f.lux (free) to warm up your computer display at night time and return it to the normal color and brightness during the day. The app will adjust itself based on your time and location.


You just need to download and install f.lux. Then you can forget about it as the app does its job quietly from the menu bar.

Copy and Paste

Maybe one of the best features of any modern computer is the ability to copy and paste digital information. If you use your computer frequently, there will be tons of copy and paste operations that you do every single day; ranging from simple snippets of texts to huge files and folders. Unfortunately, Mac’s clipboard is not designed to hold more than one item.

That’s why we need help from clipboard managers to keep a history of copied items to be used again later. There are alternatives to this kind of apps, but the ones that I use is the visually-rich Paste (US$ 6.99) that can hold up to unlimited items in its clipboard history.

Menubar -bb- Paste

But if you are more of drag and drop kind of person, you might want to try Yoink (US$ 6.99). Other than staying in the menubar, you can place Yoink’s digital container in one of the sides of your screen. You can drag an item from a source window to Yoink, switch to the destination window, and drag the item out from Yoink to the destination.


Cloud Storage Services

Other useful tools that you can put on the menu bar is one or more cloud storage services like Dropbox or Box (both free with options to upgrade) to manage your files both locally and in the cloud. But the more useful cloud service that you can add to your menu bar is Droplr (free).

Droplr will help you share your files easily. Drag and drop your files to Droplr icon in the menubar, and your files will be uploaded to your Droplr storage. You will get the link to the files that you can share with your friends. Free users can keep the files in the cloud storage for 24 hours. Paid users’ files will never be deleted.


Droplr also integrates well with Slack for easier file sharing among team members.


If you work with MacBook, then the battery should be one of your main concern. Modern MacBooks come with amazing battery life, but the performance of any battery will degrade over time, and nobody can do anything about it yet. One thing that you can do for now is to monitor the performance of your battery, and hopefully – with proper care – will extend the battery’s life.

If your goal is just to know how long do you have left before you have to plug your MacBook into the adapter, or how long to charge the laptop until the battery is full, you can use Slim Battery Monitor (free). The app is a simple menu bar battery indicator that takes 70% less space than Mac OS X battery indicator.

But if you want something more advanced that can also help you maintain and prolong your battery life, you can try FruitJuice (US$ 9.99). The app will tell you how long your MacBook should stay unplugged each day to optimize battery health, recommend maintenance cycle once every a set of time, keep the statistic of your battery usage, and more. All of these are based on the battery condition, age, factory, capacity, lifespan number, and your usage pattern.


Taking Screenshot

Screen capture apps are another example of perfect menu bar app, where users can access different kinds of screen capturing menu such as capturing area, windows, full screen, menu, timed, etc. After trying out many screen capture apps, each with its advantages and disadvantages, I have yet to find the perfect one. But after careful consideration, I recommend Skitch (free) from Evernote.

Menubar -bb- Skitch

The app integrates well with the note taking beast. It’s full-featured and has many annotating features that you need. One thing lack from it is the ability to export while resizing images within our pre-defined size limit. If you want to do that, you can try Ember (US$ 25.00), or the more full-featured SnagIt (US$ 49.00).

Other Additional Utilities

Still hungry for more? There are other useful utilities that you can put on the menu bar such as:

  • Clean My Drive (free) – to manage and clean junk from external drives
  • App Tamer (US$ 14.95) – to set limit to how much an app have access to system resources
  • Little Snitch (about US$ 42.67) – to give/deny apps permission to access certain network connection
  • iStat Menu (US$ 18.00) – a system monitor which will give you any information about your system activities

SEE ALSO: Tips and Apps to Keep Your Mac Clean

Do you have suggestions to what other apps that should be on Mac’s menu bar? Please share them using the comment below.


Jeffry Thurana is a creative writer living in Indonesia. He's on a quest of learning the art of storytelling, believing that how you tell a story is as important as the story itself. He is also an architect and a designer, and loves traveling and playing classical guitar.