These days, in order to maximize my productivity, I seem to be running a lot of menu bar apps on my Macintosh OS X system. So many that I had to buy a menu bar manager, Bartender! Add what you use in the comments.
Here’s what each one is and why I use it (in no particular order):
1Password – One of my must have tools, enables me to reach and log into sites securely using strong site-specific passwords. Without it, I have no access to anything https://agilebits.com/onepassword
Alfred – Quick launch applications and files, starting to use the saved clipboard too. Replaced Quicksilver, alternative to LaunchBar. http://www.alfredapp.com.
ChronoSync – Automatic synchronization with my desktop when it awakes, and automatic backup to my USB drives when they plug in. Just works. http://www.econtechnologies.com/pages/cs/chrono_overview.html
Committed – New app that notifies whenever any of my Github repositories gets updated. http://www.secondgearsoftware.com/committed/
Dropbox – All my current notes, settings and key files synced across all devices, nice and safely. https://www.dropbox.com
Growl – Still using growl for old application and scripted notifications, redirecting to notification center in Mountain Lion. http://growl.info
Hazel – Automatically cleans up and moves my files around, leaving me to worry about other things. http://www.noodlesoft.com/hazel.php
Keyboard Maestro – The indispensable productivity tool for mapping keystrokes to actions, making markdown links, opening and closing applications for different work scenarios and saving me time. http://www.keyboardmaestro.com/main/
Moom – Moves and resizes windows, set up with keystrokes to place my application windows where I want them spatially. http://manytricks.com/moom/
Postgres – Runs my development PostgreSQL database server in the background without having to go through the pain of installing it. http://postgresapp.com
TextExpander – My other must have tool to save me keystrokes on things I type a lot, like paths, file names, special characters and mail messages. http://smilesoftware.com/TextExpander/index.html
Trickster – Quick access via keystroke to my most recently used and downloaded files and applications. http://www.apparentsoft.com/trickster
Apple Sync – Seems to keep coming back, currently syncing my Google contacts, I think.
iStat Menus – CPU Temp – The current CPU temperature, usually hidden unless I’m running a lot of compiles or data analyses, then it gets back on top. http://bjango.com/mac/istatmenus/
iStat Menus – Memory – How much RAM is being used right now, usually hidden, but I move it to the top when running VM’s.
Apple Volume – The OS X Volume Slider, occasionally used to switch volume output with the ⌥ key.
Billings – Always running when I am working, Billings tracks my time on client projects, so it makes the top. http://www.marketcircle.com/billings/
Fantastical – Quick access to my calendars and quick creation of new appointments, I seem to open this many times a day, hence it’s on the top bar. http://flexibits.com
Bartender – The magical little utility that moves all the excess menu bar app icons onto its own bar, so I don’t see them all the time. http://www.macbartender.com
Apple WiFi – I often switch from home to client to coffee shop, WiFi shows me when I am connected.
iStat Menus – Network – I like to see how much bandwidth is being used. Often, a glance at this explains why things are slow. http://bjango.com/mac/istatmenus/
iStat Menus – CPUs – Displays how busy each CPU is on my system, gives quick access to running apps (quiet while capturing the image).
Apple Time Machine – Shows when last the time machine backup ran and when it is running, reminds me to keep an eye on it.
But that’s not all, there are a number of applications that I run when needed (or run headless) that also add icons to the menu bar, including:
- Backblaze – Backups to the internet with style and ease, usually hidden as it’s on all the time. http://www.backblaze.com
- Caffeine – Keeps the screen from going to sleep, often used when presenting. http://lightheadsw.com/caffeine/
- Sticky Notifications – To leave a note to myself when I take breaks. http://instinctivecode.com/sticky-notifications/
- Tweetbot – Gotta see what’s happening, but only when I am not working. http://tapbots.com/software/tweetbot/
- Skype – Talking to family, friends and colleagues. http://www.skype.com/
- Skitch – Taking screen snaps (old). http://skitch.com
- LittleSnapper – Taking screen snaps (new). http://www.realmacsoftware.com/littlesnapper/
- Apple Messages – Always running, connected to Google Talk and Facebook Chat, but hidden from view so it does not distract me. http://www.apple.com/osx/apps/#messages
- nvAlt – I ran this for a while as a menu bar app, but prefer it in the dock these days. For notes and drafts. http://brettterpstra.com/project/nvalt/
- PasteBot Sync – Turned on when I need to copy and paste from my iOS devices. http://tapbots.com/software/pastebot/
- xScope – Can anyone do any design without it? Really? http://iconfactory.com/software/xscope
- VMWare Fusion – When the VM’s are running so I can see the start menus. http://www.vmware.com/products/fusion/overview.html
Most of these menu bar apps spend their days hidden by Bartender because there are too many of them and most are accessible using keystrokes. All save me time and effort day in and day out.
What do you use and find indispensable on your menu bar? I’d love to know and try them out.
FYI: The cog at the end of the bottom bar is the Bartender preferences icon.