Put these apps in your Mac's menu bar

This six-pack of must-have menu bar apps will make your Mac easier to use.

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops, desktops, all-in-one PCs, streaming devices, streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
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The OS X menu bar is a great spot to park lightweight apps for easy access. Here are my six favorite menu bar apps that I use each and every day.


There are more powerful calendar apps than Itsycal, but I prefer Itsycal for its simplicity. It installs an icon in the menu bar that displays the current date. You can click on the Itsycal icon to see the full month. Itsycal also lets you link to the OS X Calendar app and will display upcoming appointments, but you can't schedule appointments with Itsycal, which is fine by me since I like it just to be able to glance at my menu bar to see today's date.

Itsycal is free and available direct from developer Mowglii.


I use XMenu for quick access to my folders. The app hasn't been updated in a couple years, but it works well with OS X El Capitan. In XMenu's preferences, you can set it up to display up to six icons for items including your Applications, Documents and Home folders. There is also an option for a custom, user-defined folder. I use it for quick access to my Home folder.

XMenu is free and available from the Mac App Store.


ClipMenu is a quick-and-easy clipboard manager. Instead of cutting and pasting items individually, ClipMenu holds your clipboard items so you can do all of your cutting and then use ClipMenu to do all of your pasting. Division of labor is a beautiful thing.

ClipMenu is free and available from the developer.

Skip Tunes

Skip Tunes lets you control iTunes, Spotify and Rdio from the menu bar. It places a small control panel in the menu bar at the top of your Mac's display. It provides play/pause and fast-forward buttons, and if you click on the musical note button, a small window opens below the Skip Tunes control panel that shows album art and artist and song information. You also get a larger play/pause and fast-forward buttons, along with a rewind button.

Skip Tunes costs $2.99, £2.29, AU$4.49 in the Mac App Store.

If you are looking for only menu-bar control of iTunes, check out the free BarTunes app.


If you are enjoying Night Shift on your iPhone, then you'll like Flux for your Mac. It adjusts the color temperature of your Mac's display according to the time of day. So, cooler temperatures during the day when the sun is up, then warmer colors at sunset and even warmer at bedtime.

Flux is free and available from Download.com.

Bartender 2

If you start accumulating menu-bar apps, you'll need an app to keep them organized. Bartender 2 is that app. It basically provides a second menu bar for when your Mac's menu bar starts to feel crowded. For an in-depth look at Bartender 2, read use Bartender to supercharge your Mac's menu bar.

Bartender 2 costs $15 and is available from the developer's site, but you can try it free for four weeks.

For more, get six tips for organizing your Mac's menu bar.