Menu Bar

Change Audio Output & Input In The Menu Bar

If you have headphones, speakers and internal speakers set up on a Mac and also a headset, microphone, and internal microphone, you’ll want to easily switch between different inputs or outputs. There is a quick way without going to the System Preferences each time.

How To
Hold the Option key and click the volume icon in the menu bar this will show a list of audio inputs and outputs. You can now select what you want. 

This enables you to quickly switch between audio inputs and outputs.

Automatically Hide & Show The macOS Menu Bar

Think that the menu bar is untouchable on macOS? Well think again, since El Capitan, you can hide and automatically show the menu bar.

How To
Select System Preferences (img.1).



Choose the General icon in the top left of the window (img.2).



Now tick the, Automatically hide and show the menu bar, checkbox (img.3)



When you tick this box, the menu bar will reappear as you move your cursor towards the top of the screen, allowing you to get at all your menus while keeping your screen uncluttered.

Dark Menu Bar and Dock

Everybody has their own choice of Wallpaper, mine changes on a regular basis. At present I am using quite a dark wallpaper and the normal light Mac Menu Bar and Dock seem to visually jar with this but there is an option in macOS Sierra that enables this to be changed. 

How To
The standard look of the Menu Bar and Dock is shown below. Firstly, click on the System Preferences icon in the dock (img.1). 



When the System Preferences window appears select the ‘General’ icon (img.2)



In the ‘General’ options check the box ‘Use Dark Menu Bar and Dock’ and the Menu Bar and Dock will become dark and fit in with the overall look of your desktop (img.3). 

Dark Menu 3 img


Website: TextExpander

Price: $3.33 Month (Billed Annually) $4.16 Month (Billed Monthly)

Free Trial: Yes (30 Days)

TextExpander is a utility that, in my view, is a must have for any Mac user who enters text on a regular basis, so effectively every Mac user.

TextExpander works in the background and watches keystrokes for pre-defined abbreviations and extends these abbreviated keystrokes into longer words, phrases, paragraphs or even entire  letters with fill-ins so a letter template can be quickly customised with a few dropdown choices. 

When TextExpander is initially launched it will walk through creating some basic snippets e.g. a snippet for an email address by asking the user to type in their email address and then a keyboard abbreviation for this (my abbreviations always start with x, so my email abbreviation is ‘xem’) once this walk through is completed the snippets can be used anywhere (text editors, web forms, spreadsheets, etc.). With my email example whenever I need to type my email address I just type ‘xem’ and my complete email address appears. This is just a basic snippet and even this basic use will save a great deal of time but imagine if there is a sentence or paragraph that has to be entered on many occasions over time, just write it once, give it an abbreviation in TextExpander and see it appear with just a few keystrokes. 

As well as saving time TextExpander can help with commonly mistyped words. If a user has a word that they misspell in the same way on a regular basis then they can add the misspelling as the abbreviation and then add the correct spelling as text triggered, therefore, every time the misspelling is entered it will be replace with the correct spelling by TextExpander. 

There are many uses for TextExpander adding email signatures, adding salutations quickly on a letter, quickly filling out forms on a website or adding the date to a file name. Also, as I have already stated advanced features include creating entire forms with customisable drop down fields available from one short abbreviation.

Other great features include, TextExpander suggesting snippets from phrases you habitually type, reminding you of missed opportunities to use your snippets and the ability to search and expand snippets in the menu bar application.

TextExpander is now a subscription service, which enables sync across all of your devices (including Windows) and sharing of snippets.  Also, there are more immediate updates due to the fact they no longer have to be agreed by Apple in the App Store.

For any Mac user TextExpander will speed up text entry to unbelievable levels. TextExpander is a great application and is worth every penny. There is a free trial version available on Smile Software’s website, there will be no looking back once TextExpander is installed. 


Website: Bartender

Price: $15.00

Free Trial: Yes (4 Weeks)

Bartender is a must have menu bar utility for anybody who uses a laptop and finds that screen real-estate is at a premium.  If you use even a few menu bar utilities inevitably, if you have a 13 inch MacBook Pro, like myself the icons for those utilities will disappear behind the menu options for the program you are using rendering the utilities you have invested your hard earned cash into completely inaccessible and useless.

Bartender solves the problem of inaccessible menu bar utilities.  It gives you a second row of icons that is viewed and used by clicking on the bartender icon.  The user chooses which utilities they put in this second row from within the bartender preferences and it can include the macOS default menu bar apps such as the Wi-Fi Utility and The Bluetooth Utility.

I keep my least used utilities in there such as the afore mentioned Bluetooth Utility, Alfred (always accessible via a keyboard shortcut), PopClip and more.  If you have Dropbox or other cloud services enabled but wish to know when they are updating you can still keep them in the bartender row but use a setting in the bartender preferences to have them briefly display in the main menu bar when they update.

As stated above this is a must have app for everyone with limited screen real-estate but it is extremely useful on larger screens.  I also use it on my 27 inch iMac to hide menu bar icons that I only rarely need to access, maybe I’m a little too obsessive with my desktop being tidy and efficient!

Bartender is a great menu bar app and at £11.92 UK or $15.00 US is a valuable addition to anybody’s Mac.