A few days ago, Shawn Blanc published an interesting article on his site. He gave me an idea: why not to write about my menu bar? On that grey bar sometimes run many apps that are fundamental for my daily workflow. Not all the apps I use have their own space in my menu bar, but many of them are always hidden there and silently contribute to improve my daily use of my Mac. So, let’s start.
Many of us use a calendar. Daily tasks that need to be done have to be clear and visible. Many times I’ve to insert a To-Do on the go. For example I do it while having a phone call or in the meanwhile I’m talking to a person. It’s fundamental to have something that works fast and uses an intelligent way to insert tasks and appointments. For this reason I use Fantastical. It’s easy and it uses a natural language engine that immediately fills the informations while texting. Just write “Todo write the menu bar article today at 15:00” and it’s done. Brilliant.
Well 1Password doesn’t need any introduction. This app is a must have for everybody. Do you really rely on “kitten” or “secret password” as main passwords for your many accounts online? No. Don’t be stupid: start using 1Password now.
I’ve an iPhone 4S and it doesn’t support AirDrop with my Macbook Pro. For this simple reason I use Instashare. It allows me to send photos, clipboard links and videos from my Mac to my iPhone and viceversa. Just drag and drop the file on the menu bar icon. It’s simple and it works.
I use this service daily. It basically stores my files online and generates a short link for the direct download. I use it also for my Twitter activities (with Tweetbot): it guarantees a better photo quality. I use it while working with other people, to send them files or entire folders. It supports big files and has built-in features as screen recording and more. Further more, you don’t have to check the online space you’re using because it’s unlimited. You can also search for past works uploaded and share them quickly coping the direct link. Easy and useful.
I’ve been using Ember for while now. The way I use Ember has changed over time: I started to use Ember to store my wallpapers and many photos I edited; then I understood that it wasn’t the best way to use it. I used it to store the interesting article I found online, but neither this was a good way to use Ember. At the present I’m using Lightroom to collect my edited photos (it’s stupid to export and save a duplicate when the photo is always available in a Lightroom collection), and I’m using Evernote to save the links to cool articles or guides online. So Ember is passed in background. Now, it’s the place where I save many interesting pictures or inspirational projects I find online. Sometimes I use to surf in the “subscription section”, where I can quickly look at many popular site throw their images as an RSS (Dribbble Popular, Fancy, The Curious Brain, 9GAG, Tools&Toys, Discoverho.me, and more).
This app is a new entry in my menu bar. Previously I was using Equilibrium to manage Spotify and skip/play songs. I wasn’t extremely satisfied by Equilibrium so I decided to switch to Simplify and I’m very glad of this change. With Simplify is possible to use the media keys on the keyboard to control Spotify even while using iTunes, and the app has an iOS version to remotely control the player from your iDevice. It’s brilliant: I can skip the songs on my Mac while drying my hair in the bathroom! It seems stupid, but believe me, it’s not.
I own a Time Capsule. The last version, with 2TB and the 802.11ac connection. I cannot be more satisfied of this purchase, even if this little toy is not cheap at all. My Mac automatically backups everything (even my external hardrive with all my photos) and I’m always sure not to lose any data. Sometimes I just check the space on my Mac and delete the local backups that OS X creates. I always recommend people to do backups: they literally protect your butt when you’re having problems.
Note: to delete local backups open the terminal.app and write “sudo tmutil disablelocal”, enter the main password and write another time “sudo tmutil enablelocal”. This way you’ve cleaned your Mac from the local backups switching them off and then reactivated them for the future.
Even this app doesn’t need any further introduction. Everybody I know use Dropbox. Some of my friends are also using Google Drive or SkyDrive, but I’m satisfied with Dropbox. I use it to sync many apps between my Mac and my iPhone. It works and it’s great. You don’t know what Dropbox is? You’re a bad bad person.
Well, everybody (that has a laptop) has this important icon in his menu bar. I don’t like to show the percentage of the battery: after all it’s only a waste of space on my precious menu bar. I know I can rely on an Haswell processor with over 12 hours of battery life. Yes, I love my Macbook Pro 13” Retina equipped with a 2,6 GHz Intel Core i5. Don’t hate me.
Do you really want me to explain this?
Even here, there’s not much to say. Just one tip: while clicking on the icon, press Alt and it shows more useful details, like the transmission speed or the 802.11 connection you’re using (g/n/ac).
If you’ve many icons in your menu bar, this little utility is fundamental. It basically hides and groups several apps under his icon. It’s simple but very efficient. You can also personalize how Bartender shows and hides the icons: for example you can chose to show the bluetooth icon while you activate it.
Tip: hold down the shift key while adjusting the volume to prevent the sound effect from playing. I always press shift. Always.
I don’t use Spotlight because I use Alfred. However, in Yosemite, Spotlight will be more powerful and useful. Probably I’ll continue to use Alfred.
I own a Wacom graphic tablet, so there’s an icon indicating its battery in my menu bar. No mysteries.
This is another must have application for every Mac user. I use it continuously, without noticing. I use it to do many tasks, as translate words, or search for files, or launch apps, or clean the download folder, or clean the desktop, or merge finder folders, or … more. It’s incredible. It has a free version but I strongly suggest the powerpack version. It allows to use workflows and do much more with this app. Download it now, you won’t regret.
Have you never want your Mac to do such things as automatically clean the trash or specific folder? Or maybe rearrange files into specific folders or convert PNG to JPEG automatically? Hazel is the answer to your desires. I use it to automatically convert the screenshot I take to JPEG, to clean the trash, to arrange my university files, to automatically convert movies using Smart Converter Pro, to delete old Lightroom Catalogs backups, to delete old Instagram photos that I use as screensaver (thanks to a IFTTT recipe) and more.
This is another must have utility. It basically does actions when you highlight words or phrase on your Mac. Many actions. For example it translates sentences, looks for places on Google Maps, converts units, and of course copy&paste (or paste using same style format). It has over 100 extensions and new ones come every month.
This icon doesn’t need explanation. I use an Alfred workflow to toggle it on and off, but for most of the time is on.
I don’t use this Mac feature very often. When I watch movies from my Mac I prefer to use my Apple TV to Airplay them directly from iTunes to my HDTV.
I don’t use this icon. Really. Never. I prefer to use the simple gesture on my touchpad to open the Notification Center. In Yosemite the Notification Center will be improved, adding new features. As it is now, I use it very little.