Menu bar apps live in the top-right corner of your Mac’s screen, and bring some amazing benefits to your desktop. We love that these tiny, smart utilities don’t get in our way like the dock apps do. Instead, they sit in a corner and swing into action only when we summon them.
But which are the best Mac menu bar apps out there? That’s the question we’re here to answer with our curated list. Before we get to it, here are three important points for you to take note of:
- Free apps get priority on our list, but not at the cost of quality or effectiveness.
- All premium apps on the list come with a free trial unless mentioned otherwise. You can even try some of them through the app subscription service Setapp. (Look for the Available on Setapp label right below the app name.)
- Technically speaking, a few apps on the list are not menu bar apps, but regular applications that you can limit to the menu bar by hiding their dock icon.
This tiny utility seems to have been around forever. It’s useful for ejecting drives from the menu bar, one at a time or all at once.
Install Clocker to stay up-to-date on time zone information. You can even add notes and create reminders with the app.
The makers of the popular window management app Moom have a few other useful apps for you. Resolutionator is one of them. It makes switching screen resolutions effortless. You’ll see a list of all your displays with nested menus showing the resolutions available to each of them. Don’t forget to try the app before you buy!
QuickRes ($14.99) is another popular app that does something similar. It has some advanced features such as custom profiles and Touch Bar support.
Let’s say you need to pick up something on your way to work or call someone before they leave for the airport. With Gestimer, you can create quick reminders for such short-term daily tasks right from the menu bar. Drag and drop the app’s menu bar icon onto your Mac’s screen to start creating a reminder. Click on the icon to view all your reminders as a list.
If you rely more on mouse clicks than keyboard shortcuts, you’ll appreciate the convenience of an app launcher that lives in the menu bar. XMenu gives you access to all your folders, applications, music, movies, and even text snippets. It’s been quite a while since the app saw an update, but it seems to work without a glitch even on High Sierra.
Some of the best Mac apps come pre-installed. Grab and Preview fall into that category for sure, but using them in tandem to take, edit, and annotate screenshots makes for a tedious workflow. Try Monosnap instead. It’s an underrated app that I wish I had discovered sooner.
As soon as you take a screenshot with its menu bar options or keyboard shortcuts, Monosnap opens the file right there. It allows you to add text and visual elements, blur sensitive data, and highlight specific sections with minimal effort. Dig into Monosnap’s preferences to find more useful features.
Screenie makes all your images super easy to access by putting them in the menu bar. From the app’s icon you can view detailed information about your images, drag images into various apps, and search through them. Customization is the keyword with this app. Its developers call it “the image manager Apple forgot.”
The lightweight and efficient Mia for Gmail puts the contents of your Gmail inbox in the menu bar. You don’t have to switch to a desktop client or webmail to read, compose, delete, label, or move emails.
Multi-tasking can kill your mental energy. Switch to automated single-tasking with Hocus Focus. You can set the app to hide your inactive windows after a preset time or every time you switch to a different app. Hocus Focus allows you to set custom timers for each open application.
Available on Setapp
If you’d rather have inactive apps fade away into the background instead of disappearing from the screen altogether, try HazeOver. It puts the spotlight on the active app and acts as a dimmer switch for the inactive ones.
Wish you could quit applications after a certain interval instead of hiding them? Quitter can take care of that for you. It’s one of those lesser-known apps that work wonders for your productivity. You can also hide apps with Quitter if you want to.
Available on Setapp
If you need rescuing from Facebook and co or distracting desktop applications during your workday, check out Focus. It allows you to block distractions with a single click or a keystroke. While we’re on the subject, you might want to consider making a few changes to get a distraction-free computer.
Use the timer built into Focus to schedule distraction-free sessions. They’re perfect for making inroads into your work and digging yourself out of task backlogs. If you’re worried your evil twin will find a way to cheat the system, the app has a couple of tricks to stop her.
Focus comes with a free trial and a 60-day money back guarantee.
Tomato One (aka Pomodoro One)
You don’t need a special app to work the Pomodoro way. Any old kitchen timer will do, but a menu bar app makes it easier, and the beautiful Tomato One is one of our top choices. It’s been a while since its developers updated the app, but it works fine, even in modern macOS versions.
You can trigger a Pomodoro, a short break, or a long break from the app’s menu bar icon. If you want to tweak any of these intervals or turn off the Autostart feature, visit the app’s settings section via the Show option in the menu.
Be Focused and Be Focused Pro ($4.99)
Available on Setapp
Be Focused combines a super simple to-do list feature with a Pomodoro timer. As with Tomato One, you get daily/weekly maps to chart your progress and the option to customize the time intervals for Pomodoros and breaks.
The app limits you to 10 to-do items. Of course, it’s best to stick to a handful of tasks to make your to-do list appear manageable instead of overwhelming. Be Focused adds a widget in the Notification Center and is also available as an iOS app.
Available on Setapp
With Workspaces, you can summon up everything you need to work on a particular project with a snap of your fingers… er… with the click of a button.
The app allows you to bundle the resources linked with a project (files, websites, emails, apps, and so on) into one set. You can see and open the contents of each project or “workspace” from the app’s menu bar icon.
Keep a scratch pad ready in your menu bar for typing in ideas, reminders, and other bits and pieces of information. The bare-bones Tyke is perfect for the job.
If you need basic Markdown support for your scratch pad, go for FiveNotes. It supports headers, bold and italicized text, lists, and quotes. If you have set your Mac to use the dark version of the menu bar from System Preferences > General, the notepad also reflects a dark theme. The app autosaves notes, so that’s one less thing to worry about.
As the app’s name suggests, you get only five notes, which is not bad for a scratch pad.
Itsycal gives you a no-fuss way to create, view, and delete calendar events. It’s unintrusive, keyboard friendly, and open source too! If you want a companion app for your Mac’s pre-installed calendar app, Itsycal is ideal.
Want a powerful calendar app living in your menu bar? Let the much-loved Fantastical convince you it’s the right choice — take advantage of its free trial. Our review of Fantastical tells you why it’s worth the high price tag.
Taking frequent short breaks is as important for productivity as beating procrastination. TimeOut is here to remind you of that.
Much like Pomodoro apps, TimeOut allows you to configure time intervals for work and play. You can also, say, play a piece of soothing music, open a specific website, or put your Mac to sleep automatically when break time starts.
Pick from TimeOut’s repository of user-submitted themes and scripts to program the app to your liking.
With the soothing sound of a Tibetan bowl, Awareness tells you that you have now used your Mac for an hour at a stretch. That has a feel-good effect if you have immersed yourself in your work (or rather ignored Facebook and email) for the past hour. Take a break or continue working — it’s up to you. Awareness is only the messenger.
iStat Menus ($11.79)
Available on Setapp
Yes, there are cheap (even free) ways to keep tabs on your Mac’s vital signs. But iStat Menus is the app to get if you want a convenient way to know everything there is to know about your Mac’s activity.
The app gives you no-detail-left-out reports about the CPU, memory, disks, battery, sensors, and so on. Want weather reports and forecasts? You have them, along with information about internet downtime, high CPU usage, network traffic, and a lot more.
Create rules to automate various tasks on your Mac with Hazel. You can start and stop Hazel, open the app window, and even run individual rules from the menu bar.
macOS does have an in-built app for automation (Automator), but it comes with a slight learning curve. Hazel is easier to adapt to and feels more user friendly.
Battery Health tells you everything you need to know about your MacBook’s battery. That includes how long it will last with the current charge, the number of charge cycles it has been through, and the status of its health. The “info” section of the app lists a few tips that show you how you can make your Mac’s battery last longer.
You have quite a few impressive window management Mac apps to choose from, but BetterSnapTool is one the most feature rich options. Apart from scaling and resizing windows, you can program app-specific snapping sizes and custom snap areas. The app also supports multiple monitors.
If you want a free window management solution and don’t mind one that relies only on keyboard shortcuts, you can’t go wrong with Spectacle. Its default shortcuts are intuitive, which makes them easy to recall. If you forget any, you can take a quick peek at the shortcut menu hidden behind app’s menu bar icon.
Spectacle allows you to scale windows to various preset sizes and move them to various preset locations. You can also move them between displays and scale them by preset amounts. You can set up custom keyboard shortcuts from the app’s preferences.
f.lux has long been the most popular app for optimizing your Mac’s display to reduce eye strain and improve sleep patterns. Starting with Sierra, macOS has a native feature called Night Shift that does the same job. f.lux is still worth installing though, because it gives you finer control over the color temperature optimization.
If you want to stick with Night Shift, make it a bit more powerful with Shifty. You might also want to check out a few alternatives to Night Shift and f.lux. Keep in mind though that blue-light-filtering apps are neither a cure-all nor an alternative to screen-free time.
Amphetamine keeps your Mac’s display awake, and a lot more besides. You can set it to work when specific apps are active, when your Mac’s battery drops below a certain preset, when it’s a certain time of the day, and so on. If you like extreme control over your apps, you’ll love this one.
Moving data around on your Mac is easy when you use a drag-and-drop solution. It gets a lot easier when you use an advanced app like Dropzone, which allows you to do more than just move files from the menu bar. You can copy files, install applications, launch them, upload files to the cloud, and do a lot more with this much-loved productivity app.
With so many excellent apps to choose from, it’s hard not to fill up your Mac’s menu bar with them. Resistance seems futile. The best you can do is hide some of the app icons with Vanilla. It’s a much-needed improvement over Broomstick, a free app that did something similar, but was far from user friendly.
Clicking on Vanilla’s menu bar icon slides all your hidden icons into and out of sight. Vanilla won’t work if you have enabled the Automatically hide and show the menu option under System Preferences > General.
If you appreciate the icon-hiding functionality for menu bar apps and are willing to pay for some advanced features, get Bartender. You won’t regret it. The app comes with an app search feature and hotkey support among other things.
Vox is a sleek and fast music player that you can hide in the menu bar. Install the Vox extension for media controls if you want to control music with the media buttons on your Mac’s keyboard. With this extension, you can also set the app to open when you press the Play/Pause key.
AppLocker Pro (Free, $9.99)
AppLocker allows you to protect specific applications with a password. The free version of the app is toothless: it allows you to lock only one app. Get the Pro version to lock more of them.
A simple way to see real-time information about the weather at different locations. You can get hourly forecasts and weather alerts as well.
This one’s handy if you use multiple browsers and email clients on a daily basis. When you click on a website link, Bumpr allows you to pick the browser with which you want to open the link. Likewise, it allows you to pick from different email clients when you click on a mailto: link.
Bitdock displays cryptocurrency prices in USD, EUR, and GBP, and updates every minute. It’s not a lightweight app, but it is convenient if you want an easy way to follow the ups and downs of your crypto investments.
Book an Uber from the menu bar. Use the autocomplete recommendations in the app to enter the pickup location and your destination.
Available on Setapp
Tripmode allows you to block unnecessary traffic on your Mac to save data when you’re using a mobile hotspot. It’s a must-have in every remote worker’s survival kit.
Fluid (Free, $4.99)
Turn any website or web application into a menu bar app with Fluid. It’s one of the app’s premium features. You don’t need to buy a Fluid license to turn websites into real Mac apps (i.e. desktop apps).
A Note About Clipboard Managers
If you have a launcher app such as Alfred, Lacona, or LaunchBar installed, check if it saves clipboard entries. If it doesn’t, you might want to install a standalone clipboard manager. We weren’t 100 percent satisfied with the menu bar apps in this category, which is why we left them out of the Timesavers section above.
We would recommend getting a full-fledged clipboard manager like Paste ($9.99), which supports text, files, images, and more. If you insist on using a menu-bar-based app, try CloudClip Manager or CopyClip ($7.99). Again, these haven’t seen an update for quite a while, so they may not work as expected. Also, they support only text. If only the promising Copia hadn’t gone away…
Our List Ends Here
All these apps might make you too productive, and we can’t have that. Counter excess productivity from time to time with a mix of jarring sounds from the web app Annoisli. Think buzzing flies, bawling babies, and honking cars. The sounds will either have you screaming for rescue or turn you forever immune to all kinds of cacophony. Enjoy! It’s a pity there’s no Mac menu bar app for Annoisli.
If you have discovered some other useful Mac menu bar apps yourself, let us know in the comments!