App of the Week: Bartender

The more time you spend with an operating system, the more programs you tend to use.  On the Mac, this may mean having more icons on your Dock and in your menubar.  But by using a lot of background programs, your menubar will get filled up with icons (some of them potentially pointless) and clutter it up.  Then if you need to access some of those icons, they can be cut off or hidden because of the program you’re actually in is using the menubar for its own file commands.  If you really can’t cut down on the number of menubar programs you need, then Bartender is worth taking a look at.

Bartender is a really simple yet wonderful app.  It looks at all the programs running in your menubar and allows you to pick the ones you want to display.  You can choose to show the icon in the menubar, hide it in Bartender, or hide it completely from view.  Then if you need to see or access the icon, just click on the Bartender icon in the menubar, and it will open a tray with all your hidden icons so you can access whatever is needed.  The programs will still function if you click/right-click on them, the same way they would if they were still in the menubar.

What makes this an even better app is that it already includes a lot of features most others would have saved for future updates.  For example, you can tell Bartender to hide a program’s menubar icon in the tray, but to show the icon in the menubar if the program updates.  I especially like this feature because it means I can tell when one of the hidden programs is updating.  I can open the Bartender Bar by clicking on the icon, or creating a keyboard shortcut of my own choosing.  And, of course, I can choose whether or

My Bartender layout

not Bartender will have an icon in the menubar or not.  If you choose to have a menubar icon, you not only get to choose from 4 predesigned and very Mac-like icons, you also get the option of choosing a picture of your own as the icon.  All it does is miniaturize your selected picture, but it also means that if you’re creative and want to make your own icon, Bartender makes it very easy to do so.

Bartender only has three things that I don’t like.  First, the Bar that it drops down doesn’t fade away if I click another program, meaning if I switch to my browser after clicking the Bartender icon, the bar will remain on screen.  It would be nice to see this added as a feature in a future update.  Secondly, Bartender will only hide your programs’ icons, but not the Mac native ones.  So while things like Dropbox, your antivirus, etc. can reside in Bartender,  the Mac’s Bluetooth, Volume, and battery icons cannot be moved in.  I don’t mind this to much, as I use their icons enough to leave them there.  Having it as an option wouldn’t be a bad things though.  Lastly, while the default icons are very Mac-like,  the Bar itself is not.  It’s darker than the menubar itself and the other Mac apps.  I’m not too concerned if it can’t match the transparency of the menubar (if you have the menubar set as translucent), but the discoloration when compared to other Mac apps or the solid menubar make it stick out like a sore thumb

So minus one aesthetic touch and a few lacking features, Bartender is a wonderful addition to anyone with a small or cluttered menubar.  It is available for Macs running OS 10.6 and higher (Snow Leopard and higher).  Currently, Bartender is free while in beta.  It will be a paid app once it is out of beta; you can buy it now for $7.50 American or .  It is available from Surtee Studios and you can download it at  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at  You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen.  You can also check out my Google Plus.  Thanks!

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