Detachable menus ala NeXTSTEP


macrumors member
Original poster
Oct 11, 2014
Some 20+years ago, when I was still a student studying informatics engineering, someone introduced me to NeXTSTEP and I just fell in love. Years ahead of anything else in many areas... anyway.. nowadays we know that OS X is largely based on NeXTSTEP, is an improvement, or just inspired from it.

One thing that stroke me as odd was the app menu of any particular application...:

It was odd but somehow I got used to it and after a certain while I liked it a lot. Something similar exists in OSX but it occupies half (more or less) of the top screen.

NeXTSTEP menus were:

1. detachable; once detached they could be moved anywhere close to the area that their action would refer; no need to move the mouse to the other corner of the monitor back and forth. Super ergonomics and a huge plus for me.
2. they could either stay were they are after a menu item is selected or they could close; their behavior was programmable (no? lol, maybe my memory fails me).

The fact that the app menu is detached from the app window seemed odd to me mainly because I had been using Windows for quite some time and that difference was made apparent. I didn't like it at first because it more or less forced me to focus on the app window - after a while I loved it because it *did* force me to focus on the app window, lol. Of course, something similar exists in OS X, but the implementation is different.

So, would you like to see NeXTSTEP menus in OS X? Do you think other apps would benefit from this?

Please discuss.:apple:


Staff member
May 3, 2009
Since NeXTStep came from Steve Jobs, and they incorporated that into OS X, yet leaving that functionality out. I doubt that it would ever be added in at this stage.

I don't see the value in detachable menus in my usage. In a sense doesn't Photoshop do that now?


macrumors 65816
Jan 23, 2010
San Diego, CA USA
Ah, the glory days of NeXTStep. Detachable menus were awesome. People who never used NS wouldn't have any idea how cool they were. The only bad part was that I would occasionally 'lose' a menu behind a window after I detached it.

NeXTStep was so ahead of it's time. The birth of Interface Builder and Obj-C. Unix/Mach based kernel. I still keep my task bar on the right side of my screen because of NS.

I don't think they will do such menus for Mac because there's a long Mac tradition of having the menu bar at the top. It's been that way since the beginning of Macs. They won't change it now.

Some programs implement their own floating toolbars.