Join Nick Brazzi for an in-depth discussion in this video Take control of status menu items, part of macOS Sierra Tips and Tricks.
- [Instructor] The menu bar is the area up at the top of the screen where, of course, you'll find these menus. I want to focus on the status menus, which is this area on the far right side of the menu bar. This is where you'll 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 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, that's the little button that looks like a speaker. You can click on that and it opens up this little menu. So when you open up this menu, you're going to see a slider. This is where you can change the volume level on any audio playing out of your computer. Now, if you've used a previous version of MacOS, then you might remember that opening up this menu would only show the volume slider and nothing else in the older versions, but now, in MacOS Sierra, you see the volume slider, but you also see output devices.
So a lot of computers will only have one output device, like, a laptop will have the internal speakers. But, if you have other devices connected to your computer, then you can choose from those output devices. So, I have a USB audio output connected to my computer, I could choose that from this list, and then the audio would play from that device. Now, what I do not see on this menu are audio inputs, so if you have some extra hardware connected to your computer for recording audio, then you might want to choose which device you use for audio input.
Since I do not see that on this list, I can access that by holding the option key on the keyboard, then clicking on this menu item, and now you see the menu is different, and now I can choose from various input devices as well as output devices. Now, holding the option key is not going to give you extra controls on every status menu icon, but it does work with some of them. So, for example, if I look at the WiFi menu, I can click on the WiFi icon, I can see a list of all of the WiFi networks currently in range, I can see which one is currently selected, but if I hold the option key and click on that menu item, I get a lot more information.
I can see a lot of information particularly about the network that I'm currently connected to. So, you might want to give the option key a try on some of the other menu items, just to see what options you get. But what if you want some of these status menus gone? For example, you may notice that we removed the clock from the status menu in most of our training courses, because that can be distracting for our viewers. So how do you do that, how do you remove one of these items? Well, there's a few ways to do it, and first, I want to show you the long way. For most status menu items, there are settings in system preferences, so if I go into the main system menu, then to system preferences, I want to find the settings that relate to that menu.
So, for example, I'll go into date and time here in system preferences. I want to go to the tab for clock, and I can see this item, show date and time in menu bar, it's currently enabled. If I click on this checkbox to disable that, you can see the clock is now gone. I can click on this again to enable it again, and now the clock is back. So that option is going to be available for most status menu items, but to find it, you'll have to go into system preferences and do a little digging, so there are two easier ways to do this.
So first, let me quit system preferences, and then we can look at those easier ways. Here's one option. For many status menu items, particularly the default options, you can go into the respective menu, so I'm going to go back into the clock menu, and you'll see there's a shortcut here that goes straight into system preferences. So I have an option here for open date and time preferences. That opens system preferences right to the page that we need and I have the option to disable that item in the menu bar. If I quit this and I go to the network menu again, there's an option for network preferences, I can click on that, and I want to make sure WiFi is selected here, and then I have the option to remove the WiFi icon from the menu bar.
Now, of course, you're not going to see that option to jump straight into system preferences on all of these menus, so here's another option. What you can do is hold the command key on your keyboard, and then drag one of these menu items away from the bar, wait until you see this little X next to your mouse cursor, then let go, and now that item has been removed from the menu. So it's really quick, really easy to remove a lot of items. Of course, that's not going to work for all of these items, but when it does work, it's really fast. Unfortunately, there is no quick shortcut to add that item back to the menu.
If I do want it back, I'll have to go back to system preferences, and in this case, I'll go to date and time, to the clock tab, re-enable it, and now it's back there on the menu. So those are some options that you have for the default status menu items. Next, 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 Dropbox installed on this computer, so I can see the Dropbox menu. That does not come built in to MacOS, it's only here because I installed that application.
Now, you're not going to be able to remove this menu with the command key, and you're not going to find options for it in system preferences either, because it's not a system tool, it's not built in to MacOS. In some of these menus, you may see an option for preferences or settings. So, for example, here in Dropbox, there's this little gear button, and if I click on that, I get another little menu, and I can see preferences here. So if I click on that, I have preferences specifically for the Dropbox application. But that does not mean that there will be an option to show or hide it in the menu bar.
In a case like this, the only way to remove this menu from the menu bar would be to actually quit Dropbox, but some other applications may have an option to remove that icon if you go into settings or preferences. Just keep that in mind, the options will be different for the different status menus. So, I hope that gives you a few new options for taking control of the menu bar on your computer.
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