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Popular Mac menu bar management utility Bartender was recently quietly sold to another company, a fact that only came to light after app monitoring service MacUpdater alerted users that updates to the app from version 5.0.52 could be potentially unsafe due to the lack of transparency surrounding the situation.

bartender-app.jpg

The original developer has since acknowledged the sale. However, the new Bartender owner is a largely unknown entity that has reportedly hiked Bartender's purchase options, and is alleged to have added code to the app that may be associated with collecting analytics data on users.

Given that Bartender requires extensive permissions to operate in macOS, including screen recording, the whole event has understandably left many users concerned about privacy. Fortunately, Bartender is not the only app of its kind. So unless Apple ever gets round to integrating better menu bar management into macOS, here are some alternative menu bar utilities that are worth considering.

  • Vanilla (Free) – Simple app that lets you hide menu bar icons. Just hold Command and drag icons between hidden and visible sections. Vanilla Pro ($10) adds keyboard shortcuts, a removed section, start at login, and an auto-hide option after 5 seconds.
  • Ice (Free) – Menu bar management tool that hides items, offers an always-hidden section, show on hover, show on click, show on scroll or swipe, automatic rehide, and app menu overlap correction. Also includes hotkeys, launch at login, and options to change menu bar appearance.
  • Hidden Bar (Free) – Lightweight tool that lets you drag a divider between icons in the menu bar to separate hidden and shown sections. Includes launch at login, auto-hide durations, show/hide global shortcut, and full menu bar mode.
  • iBar (Free) – This tool hides menu bar icons which can be revealed in a floating bar that extends below the notch on MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.
  • Barbee ($3.99) – Management tool with similar interface to Bartender. Includes sections for shown, hidden, and always hidden items, as well as extensive menu bar appearance settings. Also offers ability to quickly search your menu bar items in a Spotlight-style floating window.
  • OnlySwitch (Free) – More than just a menu bar management tool, OnlySwitch offers a broad range of customizable toggle switches designed to offer quick access to system and other settings, such as hide desktop icons, dark mode, hide MacBook notch, mute mic, and more.
If you are a BetterTouchTool user, Andreas Hegenberg has a thorough tutorial on how the utility can be used to hide menu bar items. Know of a great Mac menu bar management tool that we haven't highlighted? Let us know in the comments below and we might append it to this article.

Article Link: Six Bartender Alternatives to Manage Your Mac's Menu Bar
 
Last edited:

tyrnnsrs

macrumors newbie
Sep 24, 2021
7
7
Seems that most of these apps are about hiding menu icons instead of showing the hidden ones? I'm looking for one for my Macbook Pro with the notch that will help me see all of the icons that get hidden behind the notch. Any recommendations for which of these apps would best work for that scenario?
 

applesith

macrumors 68030
Jun 11, 2007
2,784
1,579
Manhattan
It's interesting to see the concerns of privacy and who has access to user data as the owner of this app, while other threads have users largely writing off concerns of who owns social media apps that also have access to information across users' devices. Interesting contrast. Hopefully Bartender shares who the new owner is soon for piece of mind.
 
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midiman

macrumors newbie
Jan 25, 2002
25
4
Seems that most of these apps are about hiding menu icons instead of showing the hidden ones? I'm looking for one for my Macbook Pro with the notch that will help me see all of the icons that get hidden behind the notch. Any recommendations for which of these apps would best work for that scenario?
I've been using iBar, and it works great to keep important icons out of the notch.
 

walnuts

macrumors 6502a
Nov 8, 2007
593
347
Brooklyn, NY
I hate this... Bartender was great... had it on multiple Macs for years, but thank you MacRumors for this guide!

I think "the way this was handled" was a symptom not a cause. Applause (the new owner) makes no secret of what they do- they offer a chance for developers to sell their app and they as the new owner monetize it. There is no user-facing story to assuage privacy, consistency, or quality concerns. As it often is, the users are the product, not the customer.

Fwiw I don't blame the developer...they made a great app, and supported it well for years. Its a tough situation to need to get out and the options aren't always great.
 

icanhazmac

Contributor
Apr 11, 2018
2,613
9,947
Given that Bartender requires extensive permissions to operate in macOS, including screen recording, the whole event has understandably left many users concerned about privacy.

Levels of permissions for this make the situation way worse but isn't getting a free app, where YOU are the product, almost as bad as paying for an app? Ads or worse, collecting and selling your iinfo.

How many apps to we all have that are just some rando developer, individual or company, and have no idea what happens in the background. Like this situation, no problems until the app gets sold and hope that MR tells us!

As an example: I have a home inventory program, all data supposedly stays on my device(s), no middle man servers. I always believed that but stories like this make you question if, in the worst case, devs couldn't get info on your stuff and use/sell that info.
 
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msackey

macrumors 68030
Oct 8, 2020
2,533
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Three months ago, I sold Bartender to Applause, a company with the resources and expertise to take the app to new heights. Applause shares my vision for Bartender and is committed to maintaining its core values while bringing in new features and improvements. I truly believe they are the right team to continue the journey and ensure Bartender remains a valuable tool for all of you.
Source: https://surteesstudios.com/a-new-chapter/

The bolded part above sounds a bit like corporate speak. Truly the original developer was that dedicated to seeing a company that newly owns this product shared core values? Like what values? Profit?
 

Kelly the Dude

macrumors member
Jun 1, 2008
76
134
I used one of these apps for years, but last year I found the easiest and best solution that is app-less. Usually I want all those menu bar items up all the time… but what I don’t want is the giant spacing and padding between them.
Behold in the terminal:

Code:
defaults -currentHost write -globalDomain NSStatusItemSpacing -int x
defaults -currentHost write -globalDomain NSStatusItemSelectionPadding -int y

Where x and y are spacing and padding. I found 6 and 3 for me the best:

Code:
defaults -currentHost write -globalDomain NSStatusItemSpacing -int 6
defaults -currentHost write -globalDomain NSStatusItemSelectionPadding -int 3

I found I didn’t really need an app after that. All the stuff I wanted to put up there I could fit, and all the stuff that didn’t make it I explicitly took out with ⌘ + drag.

Image 6-6-24 at 9.04 AM.jpg


Here’s a reference to the stack overflow I found this:

https://apple.stackexchange.com/que...fied-in-macos-big-sur-and-later/465674#465674
 

Kissmo1980

macrumors 6502
Feb 16, 2021
452
1,243
What I liked about Bartender is the splitting of the menu bar. Now I haven't disabled it but I am very concerned as well about the privacy of this app.
I am using Little Snitch so I blocked any connections from the app for the time being, I just hope this actually is safe enough.
 
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Unggoy Murderer

macrumors 65816
Jan 28, 2011
1,163
4,048
Edinburgh, UK
What I liked about Bartender is the splitting of the menu bar. Now I haven't disabled it but I am very concerned as well about the privacy of this app.
I am using Little Snitch so I blocked any connections from the app for the time being, I just hope this actually is safe enough.
Makes the assumption they'd use the Bartender service for connecting, some apps might have a helper service. If you're concerned about privacy, remove the app to be safe, this article highlights some excellent alternatives.
 

bluespark

macrumors 68040
Jul 11, 2009
3,124
4,065
Chicago
Well the new owners definitely messed up big time. The fact they still haven’t put out a statement to do damage control is beyond crazy.
No amount of damage control should be acceptable to users if an app like this is installing trackers. This should kill Bartender immediately and forever.

Also, props to MacRumors for alerting users and suggesting alternatives.
 
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