Welcome to Product Support, a column devoted to helping you get the most out of the gadgets and software you already use.
Whether you’re a long-time Mac user or somebody who’s acclimating to their first, there’s a good chance you’re not using the menu bar to its full potential. And thus, you’re making your life a lot more frustrating.
The menu bar is the thing that runs along the top of your Mac’s screen where all the menus — Apple, File, Edit, History and more — are located. The icons on the far right of right, which are called status menus, such as Wi-Fi and battery, are also part of the menu bar.
The thing to understand is that while the menus on the left side of the bar are pretty permanent, the status menus on the right side are infinitely more customizable. You can add, remove and rearrange basically all of them. And you’ll want to do just that because the more you use the Mac, the more crowded that menu bar will likely get.
The menu bar is there to help you navigate your Mac seamlessly so that you can be your most productive self. You may like it crowded or minimalist crowded. Either way, below you’ll find a few quick tips to help you customize so that it’s best for you.
1. Quickly delete status icons you don’t need.
Every status menu can be removed save from the Notification Center (the icon on the far right with the three stacked horizontal lines). This includes the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, battery, Siri and Spotlight menus, as well as any other that might appear. While right-clicking a status icon doesn’t allow you to remove it, you can hold the Command key and drag the icon off of the menu bar. Then simply unclick and it’ll disappear. Boom.
2. Rearrange what’s left.
This same Command key trick can be used to rearrange any status menu on the menu bar. For example, if you want the battery menu icon to be as far left as possible, simply hold the Command key, click and hold the battery menu icon, and drag it left. Then unclick and it’ll there.
3. Add some additional status menus.
If for some reason a status menu that you want to appear on your menu bar isn’t there. you can populate it pretty quickly. All you have to do is open System Preferences, select one of the icons and check the box at the bottom that says “Show [blank] in menu bar.” Not every icon allows you to add it to the menu bar, granted, but this is an easy way to re-add the Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, volume or battery menu icons back to the menu bar.
4. Make the menu bar disappear to get more screen.
The same way you can make your Mac’s Dock disappear, you can do the same with the menu. Simply open System Preferences, select General and select the box that says “Automatically hide and show the menu bar.” The advantage here is that you get more usable screen space because the menu bar isn’t there. You can still access the menu bar by hovering your cursor at the top of the screen, of course.
5. Show the exact battery life.
The battery icon is on the status menu by default, but it’s not that helpful. Sure, it shows you how full the battery is, but it’s small and not that exact. Fortunately, you can click on the battery icon and select “Select Percentage” to see exactly how much battery you have left. If you’re noticing that your MacBook’s battery is depleting quickly, you can also select “Open Energy Saving Preferences” to see which programs are causing the drain.