15 Cool Apps And Tweaks For Your Mac's Menu Bar

pluto mac menu bar to do

Photo: Via Associated Content from Yahoo

The Mac Menu Bar is a highly customisable space where you can install shortcuts, applications to keep track of hard disk space, to-do lists, screenshot grabbers, and more.We’ll show you our favourite menu bar tips, tweaks, and apps for Mac that will help you be more productive and help keep big app windows from clogging up your desktop. 

Fresh Feed puts your favourite RSS feed in your menu bar

Fresh Feed is a simple app to make sure you never lose track of your favourite RSS feeds.

The app doesn't import from Google Reader, but we don't know if we'd really want it to. This app works best to keep track of just a few feeds. When the menu bar icon 'milk jug' fills up, you know you have some news to read.

Price: free from the Mac App Store

Isolator enables you to concentrate on the task at hand

Click the Isolator menu bar icon and your currently running application will step into the foreground, blocking out everything else you have running that might distract you.

You can even set up a convenient shortcut (key combination) to activate Isolator.

Price: free from Willmore.eu

You Control: Tunes is a wonderful way to control music playback without opening iTunes

You can use the iTunes dashboard widget or the buttons on your keyboard, but there's no way to control your music as easily as with this app.

Previous track, play/pause, and next track are easily in view at all times in your menu bar, and the app even pops up a box containing the artist, song, and album art when a new song begins.

If you'd like, you can even browse and pick a song without opening iTunes (see screenshot).

Price: free from You Software

Facebook desktop notifications lets you know when someone contacts you

Facebook Notifications creates unobtrusive pop-ups for when somebody writes on your wall, sends you a message, and more.

Even if you miss the pop-up, you'll know when to check Facebook because the menu bar icon turns blue to provide a constant reminder that someone has tried to contact you.

Price: free from Facebook

Boxcar's brand new Mac app is a sleek way to keep track of notifications

Boxcar is one of our favourite ways to keep track of all the notifications streaming into our iPhones, and now the company has released a client for Mac.

The app sits in your menu bar and when you click it, opens up to reveal notifications from various services like Twitter, RSS feeds, Foursquare, Facebook, and more.

Price: free (beta) from Boxcar

Google Notifier alerts you to incoming Gmail messages

Google Notifier lets you know immediately whenever a new email comes in to your Gmail account.

One of the best features of Google Notifier is that it will remind you about Google Calendar events that you've set reminders for.

Like Facebook Desktop Notifications, this app pops up an unobtrusive box to show you who sent the email, the subject, and a snippet of the message.

Price: free (beta) from Google

The DropBox menu bar app provides quick access to your shared files and folders

Dropbox is a useful file storage and sharing tool that integrates seamlessly with your Mac, and the menu bar app is a great way to take advantage of these features.

The menu bar icon animates whenever files are syncing, and

Price: free with the official desktop application from Dropbox

Tip: clean up your menu bar

Get rid of menu bar items you don't use.

They take up precious memory and clog up an area that should be available for quick-glance apps and toolbars.

A few we've gotten rid of on our computers are Bluetooth, International keyboard, and Displays. You can remove these menu bar items by going to their respective panels in System Preferences.

The built-in Apple menu bar items probably aren't taking up a ton of RAM, but third party menu bar items definitely are.

Annoyed that your screen keeps dimming every five minutes while watching a movie? Use Caffeine

This simple app has been around for years, and enables you to keep your computer awake with just a couple clicks.

It's annoying to go into Energy Saver preferences and constantly be delegating how long before your screen dims and your computer goes to sleep. Caffeine keeps your display at its current setting and refuses to let your computer fall asleep.

Price: free from the Mac App Store. Try InsomniaX if you want to keep your laptop running with the lid closed.

Mail Unread Menu is like Google Notifier but for Apple's built-in Mail app

Mail Unread Notifier is great for people who like to hide their Dock but don't want to miss email messages when they come in.

The app is also great if you want to 'check for new mail' without opening up your Mail app. You can even configure it to display good-looking pop-ups when new mail comes in.

Price: free from Logan Rockmore

WeatherBug puts the current temperature in your menu bar

Check the temperature outside at a glance with this convenient menu bar app.

With two clicks, you can have access to forecasts, radar, and more.

Price: free from WeatherBug

iStat Menu enables you to get a bird's eye view of everything happening in your computer

Whether you're looking for your IP address, drive temperatures, GBs left on your hard disk, and even current upload/download speeds, look no further than this menu bar application.

This app is the tool of choice for power users looking to keep an eye on their computer hardware.

Price: free to try, $16.00 to buy from Bjango

Take quick screen grabs with Instant Shot!

Hate trying to remember the keyboard shortcuts for taking screenshots on your Mac?

Download this menu bar app to quickly and easily take screen grabs. You can choose to do a portion of the screen, the whole screen, delayed sceenshots, and more.

Price: free from DigitalWaters.net

Use Pluto Menu Bar to keep track of things you need to do

This useful to-do list menu bar app is a good way to keep your tasks at a glance at all times.

The app even syncs with iCal, Dropbox, and MobileMe so you always have your list of to-do's with you.

Price: free from MOapp

Evernote's menu bar app lets you clip web pages or screenshots

If you already use Evernote, be sure to get this menu bar app. If you're not using Evernote, you probably should be--it's the easiest and best way to keep track of all sorts of notes and keep them in sync across your computers and mobile devices.

The menu bar app is great because it lets you clip screenshots and create new notes, even when the desktop application is closed.

Price: free with the official desktop app from Evernote

Now that you've learned how to be more productive using Mac menu bar apps...

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