Apple Mac: 11 useful apps for the menu bar

On the Apple Mac, you can use the menu bar at the top of the screen at almost any time. But in addition to the menus of the currently active app, this not only shows system-specific symbols and information. It also offers space for apps and tools provided by software studios or individual developers. Certain actions can be carried out, information called up or settings made quickly and easily via the menu bar symbols. In this guide you will find 11 useful apps for the menu bar on the Apple Mac. And then there are numerous other app guides.

1. Contrast – Check color combinations for WCAG compatibility

Do you design web content and want to design it with easily distinguishable colors for barrier-free use? Then the free Contrast app can help you. From the menu bar, you can use it to select colors and view the WCAG-compliant color spectrum. For everyone who is new to the abbreviation: WCAG stands for "Web Content Accessibility Guidelines", an internationally agreed standard for accessible content that is valid in the EU (Wikipedia article). If you want to use several colors for the background, text, buttons, borders, etc., you can use Contrast to check whether they are sufficiently distinguishable.

  • Name: Contrast - Color Accessibility
  • Price: Free
  • Download: Mac App Store

2. ItsyCal - Calendar and appointments in the menu bar

I already gave you the ItsyCal app presented a year ago. But it deserves a mention here again, because it brings a clear calendar and an appointment overview to the macOS menu bar. So you don't have to start the calendar app first to call up a monthly overview, locate the current day on the calendar sheet or remind yourself of upcoming appointments. The menu bar extension is well designed and shows all the necessary information at a glance in a way that is easy to understand. It's also free and can be downloaded from the developer's website.

  • Name: ItsyCal
  • Price: Free
  • Download: Website

3. MeetingBar - Meetings of the day clearly listed

Can you do without a calendar display and would you rather have an overview of your meetings for the day on the Mac menu bar? Then MeetingBar is the right app for you. The free offer shows you the dates from various calendar sources, lets you take part in online meetings with one click and shows all details about the event if you wish. This includes the period, the organizing person, notes, other participants and more. With a further click, the meeting can be displayed in the calendar - whether iCloud, Google, Office 365, Yahoo or others. In addition, MeetingBar is compatible with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Join.me, Slack, Facetime and many other conferencing tools. 

4. SpotMenu - Spotify information and control

The SpotMenu app brings you the artist and song name of the song currently playing on Spotify in the menu bar. If you click on the ad, the album cover will be displayed. If you move the mouse pointer over it, the view changes to controls such as the play or pause button, previous track, next track and position slider. The app can be downloaded for free from GitHub. The latest version is from the end of 2018, but I also have it in 2023 when using under macOS is coming had no problems on a Mac with Apple Silicon. That's why I can still recommend the SpotMenu app today.

  • Name: SpotMenu
  • Price: Free
  • Download: GitHub

5. Rectangle - window manager with numerous options

When it comes to window managers for macOS, especially for the switch from PC to Mac, I actually always recommend since 2018 Magnet. When I published the linked article, the price was just 1,09 euros. But over time it has continued to rise and is now €9,99 in the Mac App Store. Therefore I would like to introduce you to the free alternative Rectangle. This open source window manager helps you arrange windows in different ways. If you are familiar with dragging program windows to the side edges from Windows, you do not want to do without such an app in macOS. Rectangle has even more features than Magnet.

  • Name: Rectangle
  • Price: Free
  • Download: GitHub

6. Loom - Combined screen and camera recording

The Loom app is also one of the Mac menu bar extensions that falls under the Productivity category. With Loom, you can take pictures of the screen with just a few clicks and directly integrate a smaller picture of the webcam. In this way, short explanations for system settings, quick help when using programs or ideas for designs, products, websites, apps and so on can be implemented. The recording mode (e.g. screen and camera), the screen section, the camera and the microphone can be selected and the recording started via the menu bar. The video can then be cropped and shared in the Loom app window. So you don't have to convene a video conference and you can communicate the most important things quickly and easily. 

  • Name: Loom
  • Price: Free basic version, subscription from $8 per month per person
  • Download: Website

7. Bluesnooze - Bluetooth lock for sleeping Macs

Even if the Apple Mac is in sleep mode, it still polls its Bluetooth connections from time to time. It can happen that he snatches away the exact headphones or loudspeaker that you actually wanted to connect to the iPhone or iPad. If this happens to you from time to time, then you should take a look at the Bluesnooze app. With this you can use the menu bar of macOS to set that the Mac should not connect to Bluetooth devices when it is idle. The last release on GitHub was more than two years ago, but it is the stable version 1.1. So there shouldn't be any problems.

  • Name: Blues Nooze
  • Price: Free
  • Download: GitHub

8. MenuBarX - Launch web pages directly from the menu bar

Do you visit the same website multiple times a day—such as search engines to search, news sites to stay up to date, or social media to consume the latest hot takes and memes? Then take a look at MenuBarX. Thanks to this app, you can link individual websites to an icon in the menu bar and call them up with just one click. You can set the size of the display so that everything you need can be seen without taking up the entire screen. There is even more information about the MenuBarX app in this post from March 2022 or in the App Store, where you can also find the free download.

9. iStat Menus - System data in various forms

The iStat Menus App for the Apple Mac can be presented more than once. In 2017 I gave you e.g. B. iStat Menus 5 shown. Version 6.70 is now available. This brings you a lot of Mac information in the menu bar. From an alternative clock and battery display to the temperature of the CPU, GPU, SSD storage and fans to network utilization, memory usage and the weather, there's a lot involved. There is a 14-day trial version in which you can see whether iStat Menus is for you. After that, the app costs $14,27. But she is also in Setapp included, along with over 240 other full versions of various Mac apps.

10. Background Music - Adjust app volume individually

I also introduced you to the Background Music App before, even in the month before last. However, it deserves a mention here again, as it adds an important feature that has been missing in macOS for years: the individual adjustment of app volumes. What has been standard on the Windows PC for many versions is simply not available on the Apple Mac. You can't click the speaker icon and set an individual volume for individual apps. Unless you have the Background Music app. Although it has a few minor quirks (see linked article), it can still be recommended. And it's free.

  • Name: Background Music
  • Price: Free
  • Download: GitHub

11. Hidden Bar - Clean up the many icons in the menu bar

Admittedly, if you put so many tools on the menu bar, it can become quite confusing over time. But don't worry, there's another menu bar app to keep things organized! The Hidden Bar app lets you arrange the icons of the apps in an individual order, provides you with separators and offers the option of showing and hiding any number of icons as you wish. This way you can set a group that should always be shown and a group that you can hide for more space. There are more explanations and GIFs on the GitHub page of the free app, which explain the application quickly and easily.

  • Name: Hidden/Hidden Bar
  • Price: Free
  • Download: GitHub

Would you like more suggestions? But of course!

There are many, many apps for the Apple Mac. There are a lot of them that either work completely via a symbol in the menu bar or bring this with them as quick access to the most important functions. Of course, there are also programs that have nothing to do with the menu bar, but are useful nonetheless. You can find a wide selection of all of them on the Sir Apfelot Blog. Here I have listed a few notable examples and collections for you to browse and discover:

Do you have another recommendation? Then please leave a comment!

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In the Sir Apfelot Blog you will find advice, instructions and reviews on Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini and Mac Studio.

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