The Menu Bar is the area at the top of your screen, where, naturally, you see menus. I want to focus on the status menus - the area on the far right, which is where you see things like the clock, volume control, the spotlight search button. That sort of thing. The status menu area is often referred to as the taskbar, though that’s not the official name. In this movie, I’ll show you how you can take control over the status menus by removing items you don’t want and opening up more options under some of these buttons.
- [Voiceover] The menu bar is the area up at the top of the screen where naturally you see these menus. I wanna focus on the status menus, which is this area on the far right, which is where you see things like the clock and volume control, the spotlight search button, that sort of thing. The status menu area is often referred to as the taskbar, though that's not the official name. In this movie I'll show you how you can take control over the status menus by removing items that you don't want and opening up more options under some of these buttons.
First, let's see some controls that you might not know about. We'll start with the audio control, of course this is the speaker icon that we see up here in the status menus. You can click on this button, and it opens up a slider that you can use to change the volume level on your speakers. For most people this is all you need. But a lot of Macs have mutliple audio outputs. You might have built-in speakers and headphones, or you might have a USB device for audio output. To switch audio outputs, you could go into System Preferences.
But there is a faster way to do that. What you'll do is, instead of clicking on the audio menu, you'll hold the option key on your keyboard and then click on that menu. And it opens up an alternative menu where you have different options. You can see I have a list of all the output devices and input devices on my computer. The input devices are various microphones that you might use to record audio. So you actually see here that I'm using a USB interface to record my voice for this training video. So whether you want to switch your output or your input, you can choose whichever one of these items you want, you would just click on it, then it would have that checkmark next to it and that would be the active input or output device.
You'll also see under this menu, there's usually an option for preferences. And when you click on that, it'll take you over to System Preferences where you can adjust settings for that particular item. So let me quit System Preferences here. So you can see that works in some of these other menus, not all of them, but some of them. For example, if I click on the Wi-Fi menu, I can see a list of all the available Wi-Fi networks, and I can choose which one I wanna connect to. But if I hold the option key and click on the Wi-Fi menu, I get a different menu. So here under this alternative menu under Wi-Fi, I can still a list of Wi-Fi networks, but I can also see information about the network I'm currently connected to.
Like the IP address and other information. And of course there's also an option here to go straight to preferences inside of System Preferences. So using the option key is not gonna open up an alternate menu on every item, but it works on some of them. Now, what if you wanna remove some of the status menu items? Maybe you just want them completely gone. They might be distracting. For example, you may notice that we remove the clock from the status menus in most of our training courses. Because that can be distracting for our viewers. So how do you do that? Well first I'll show you the long way.
For most status menu items, there are settings in System Preferences. So if I go to System Preferences in OS X. And since we're talking about the clock let's start there. Here in System Preferences there's a button for Data & Time. There are three tabs here, I wanna make sure I go to the tab for the clock. And you can see there's an option here to show the date and time in the menu bar. I can click to uncheck that box, and now the clock is gone. I can click on that button again to bring it back. Now you may have to do a little digging to find this option. But it's going to be there for most of the default options here in the menu.
So for example, if I take a step back in System Preferences, and I go to Network, under Wi-Fi, I wanna make sure that Wi-Fi is selected. I see an option here that says show Wi-Fi status in menu bar. So I can turn that on or off from here. There's also an option for the audio under Sound and this button that looks like a computer screen, we're gonna find options for that under Displays. But that's the long way of doing it, there's actually two quicker ways of removing an item from the menu bar. One way to do it would be something we saw a moment ago.
I could click on one of these menu items, and usually there's an option to go straight to preferences. Which would be just a quick shortcut right into System Preferences, where we saw this option a moment ago. I'll quit that again. But the really quick way to get rid something from the menu, would be to hold the command key on your keyboard and then drag that item away from the menu. Let go and now it's gone. I'll do that again with the Wi-Fi indicator. I can just drag that away, holding the command key on my keyboard. And now it's gone.
Now there's no real shortcut to put those back. So if you did want them back, you would have to go back to System Preferences. And in this case I could go to either Network or Date & Time, since those were the two that I removed. Find that option, click that box and it comes back. I'll go ahead and quit that. Just keep in mind, the shortcut to remove status menu items using the command key does not work for every item. For example, there's no way at all to remove Spotlight and Notification Center from the menu.
Also, you may see some new items added to the status menu over time. Some applications that you install will add new menus. For example, I have installed Dropbox on this computer. So I can see that there's a new menu item here in the status menus for Dropbox. You won't have that if you have not installed Dropbox on your computer. Now of course I can click on that and I can get some options. But I will not be able to remove that menu using the command key. So take my word for it, I am now holding the command key, and if I try and drag that away from the menu bar.
It doesn't work. Also, since this a third-party application, you're not gonna see an option to go to System Preferences. And there's not gonna be anything in System Preferences for removing that icon anyway. But sometimes you will see options for either preferences or settings. So here in this Dropbox menu there's a little gear icon, if I click on that, I can see there is a button for preferences. But still there is no option to remove that icon from the menu bar. Depending on which application you're using, sometimes there is and sometimes there isn't.
For Dropbox, the only way to remove the Dropbox menu from the menu bar. Would be to quit the Dropbox application. So just keep that in mind. The options will be different for the different status menus. So I hope this gives you a few new options for taking control of the menu bar on your computer.
- Dragging files from one application to another
- Using the Dictation and Text to Speech features
- Printing to PDF
- Customizing Finder windows
- Securing files with encrypted disk images
- Recording audio and video with QuickTime
- Using the Activity Monitor to troubleshoot performance issues