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Use these Mac menu bar apps to get more done

These lightweight, powerful and helpful applications will help you get more done on your Mac.

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Taylor Martin/CNET

Mac menu bar apps are a great way to keep information or services -- such as clipboard managers and calendars -- out of sight but no more than a click away. This makes them great for visualizing status information for your Mac, quickly switching settings and even boosting your productivity.

There is an ever-growing list of great Mac menu bar apps. Here are the best of the best for getting stuff done.

Caffeine

Many would consider Caffeine a utility app, but I've found lots more uses for it. It has only one basic function: as the name suggests it keeps your computer from going to sleep. So I use it when I know a passive process is going to take a while and I want to make sure my Mac won't go to sleep when I'm halfway through. So if I'm exporting a video, I know it won't be interrupted and fail.

Rather than switching your Mac's settings, just click the coffee cup icon in the menu bar to activate Caffeine. It will stop your computer from sleeping indefinitely or anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours.

Noizio

If you need sound to break up the background noise, Noizio is just what you need. It can generate individual noises, such as a cafe, thunderstorm, campfire, river, farm or more. Or you can mix and match different sounds together and adjust their individual volumes to create your own custom blend.

At $5 (£4 or AU$8) it isn't cheap for a noise generator. But it's well worth the price if you can't seem to concentrate with people around or a disruptive background noise. I especially like the Deep Space sound.

Gestimer

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Taylor Martin/CNET

Gestimer allows you to quickly add reminders by clicking the menu bar icon and dragging. The further you drag the icon, the longer until the deadline of the reminder, which can be synced with Apple Reminders. When you release, you are prompted to enter the title for the reminder, and just press Return to save it.

It's very reliable and by far one of the easiest -- and quickest -- ways I've found to create a new task or reminder. That said, it will cost you $4 (£3 or AU$6) in the Mac App Store.

BreakTime

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If you're anything like me, once you start working, it's difficult to remember to take stop and take a break. BreakTime helps remind you when to stop what you're doing and break for a few.

Set how long you want to work and how long you want to break for. Once your work timer is finished, BreakTime will lock you out of your computer and force you to take a 5 or 10 minute break. You can choose whether you'll be able to end the break early (to regain access to your computer) or truly force yourself to take a break.

Some might not like the idea of locking themselves out of their computer, but having a set amount of time before you (temporarily) lose access certainly instills a sense of urgency.

BreakTime is $5 (£4 or AU$8) but comes with a limited trial so you can try it before you buy.

Focus

Focus is similar to BreakTime. But instead of locking you out of your computer, Focus blocks certain applications and websites for a set amount of time to help stop you from getting distracted when you're down to the wire.

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Taylor Martin/CNET

Like BreakTime, Focus has what it calls a Hardcore mode, which can't be disabled even by rebooting the machine. Even access to your application preferences are revoked until the timer finishes. But Focus also comes with a set schedule, so it can automatically enable and disable itself based on your work schedule.

The downside to Focus is its price, which is a steep $20 (this converts to about £14 or AU$27). However, unlike most Mac apps, it comes with a 30-day money back guarantee in case it's not exactly what you're looking for.

Escape

Distractions abound on the internet, and sometimes it can be difficult to work out where all your time is going. If spending $20 to block the most distracting websites during work hours doesn't appeal to you, you can try to tackle distractions from the other side of the equation with Escape.

Escape runs in the background and tracks your distractions throughout the day, showing which websites cause the most distractions. It also keeps track of how long, on average, those distractions cost you in minutes. The only downside to Escape is, if you want to track how much time you waste on a specific site, you will first have to enter that site into the list that Escape will track.

Escape is also free, which makes it even more enticing.

ClipMenu

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Taylor Martin/CNET

I'm constantly copying and pasting a ton of text and other information, so I can't possibly function without something like ClipMenu. It saves pretty much everything you copy -- pictures, rich or plain text and URLs -- up to a maximum of 100MB.

You can use the menu bar or a hotkey to access your recent clippings, and selecting one will automatically paste it. Best of all, it's entirely free.

hr

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Taylor Martin/CNET

It's easy to forget to track your time. But if you need help keeping track of the hours you spend working on specific projects, whether it's for your personal needs or for invoicing, hr is a brilliant yet simple solution.

It's a time tracker that sits in your menu bar. Click to open the menu, select a category, enter a new task and click the play button to start tracking time. If you walk away from your computer for a few minutes, hr will notice that the computer is idle and stop tracking time. Or it can stop tracking after a set amount of time like a pomodoro-style timer.

In the Mac App Store, hr costs $6 (£4.50 or AU$10).