How to Manage Stock Menu Bar Items on Mac OS X

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When you initially install OS X, there are a few items that are placed in your menu bar by default. There are a couple of ways to go about adding or removing stock OS items from your menu bar in an effort to keep it tidy and organized.

In this tutorial, we’ll cover some of the basic menu bar management tips for stock menu bar items. This includes basic tips on rearranging, removing, and adding items back to the menu bar. We’ve also got a handy video showcasing some of the basic concepts of stock menu bar item management. Have a look inside for more details.

Removing items from the menu bar

Items can be removed from the menu bar by unchecking the menu bar option in the item’s preferences, or by a simple ⌘+drag away from menu bar and release.

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To do so by means of the item’s preferences, open the Preferences app and navigate to the section containing your particular menu bar item. Once there, uncheck the “show in menu bar” option and you should see the associated menu bar item immediately disappear. You can add items back by checking the menu bar option; they should reappear immediately.

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Rearranging items in the menu bar

Stock menu bar items can be easily rearranged using the same ⌘+drag mentioned in the removal section above; the only difference is, instead of dragging them out of the menu bar and releasing, you position your cursor on the menu bar at the place you’d like the item to reside and release.

Just like the previous section mentioned, rearranging menu bar items can only be done with stock items. You cannot do this with third party apps that place items in the menu bar. There is another utility that we will cover in a future post that allows you to better manage all menu bar items, and that includes third party items as well.

A few exceptions

While most of the stock menu bar icons such as Time Machine, time, user, Bluetooth, AirPlay, Wi-Fi, sound and various others can be moved and removed with no issue, there are a few exceptions to the rules. Spotlight search can neither be removed or moved to a different area of the screen. It will always occupy the second to right-most portion of your menu bar. The other exception is Notification Center, which is the right-most app icon available in the menu bar. It should be mentioned that you can’t even hide these icons by unchecking their menu bar options in the Preferences app; these two particular menu bar items are here to stay.

That’s about as far as you can take menu bar management without the help of additional utilities. As you can see, managing the menu bar is quite limited with stock OS X, but a whole new can of worms can be opened up with a handy third party utility. We’ll be back with more examples and tips on managing the menu bar in OS X. In the meantime, leave us a comment below discussing how you manage the menu bar items on your system.

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