Stuff I Love
7 Things (Which Are My Favorite Menu Bar Apps) This Week, 2021-09-19
A weekly list of things I found interesting, posted on Sundays. Sometimes themed, often not.
One of my favorite things about using a Mac is the wide variety of applications that can be run — including menu bar apps. These applications sit as small icons at the top of every screen performing small tasks with the click of a button, a keyboard command, or without any interaction at all! Here are some of my most used ones.
I think of One Switch as an extended version of Control Center (which debuted in macOS last year in Big Sur). This app provides a list of useful functions that can be enabled or disabled with just a click, such as Keep Awake, Hide Desktop Items, Dark Mode, and Empty Trash, among others.
I have several ways to quickly connect to headphones (One Switch, AirBuddy, Ears) but ToothFairy is my favorite. It lets you put an icon for any Bluetooth headphones in the menu bar and then connect/disconnect them with a single click. I find it way easier than waiting for the built-in macOS pop-ups.
While I’m not typically in and out of my contacts app every day, I appreciate the natural language support you get with Cardhop. Made by the awesome folks at Flexibits (the makers of Fantasical), Cardhop works by typing (or pasting) a bunch of information for a contact into the text field and letting it parse it all out correctly. If you already have a contact under an inputted name, it’ll update it. Otherwise, a new contact card is made with all the fields filled out correctly. It’s like magic! (Oh, and there’s an excellent iOS/iPadOS version as well.
When you’ve got Drafts, who needs another lightweight place for text? Well, I do. While Drafts collects 99% of the text I need to work with on my devices, I like to have Tot around as well for a short-term landing zone for text. Tot is ingenious in its constraints. There are only seven buckets for text, and it uses plain text or basic rich text exclusively. So if I just need to copy something, make a quick edit, and then cut and paste it somewhere else quickly, since it can be called with a quick keyboard shortcut, Tot is the fastest solution.
As the newest addition to my menu bar, I have the least experience with Dropzone. In a way, it copies the convenience of another of my favorite Mac apps, Yoink, in that it is a place to drag files temporarily. But the beauty in Dropzone is that you can configure actions to happen when you drop something in a specific location within the drag area. So I’ve got zones to put files into particular folders, optimize images, install or uninstall applications, email or AirDrop files, shorten URLs, download YouTube videos, search for similar images, and more!
I’ve used several “drop file here to create a link to it” sorts of apps, but Dropshare has been my favorite by far. It gets the basics right (quick uploads, process indicator) with some extra niceties (pleasant landing page, support for various cloud services, unobnoxious short URLs, and built-in screen capture and annotation features). With a Setapp subscription, the premium features in the iOS app are also unlocked, which is a nice bonus. I’ve saved myself a ton of time not writing out complex instructions and instead just dropping a link to a screenshot, screencast, or specific file into a text chat or email to help someone out.
7️⃣ Screen Capture Apps
…which leads me to my screen capturing apps themselves. While macOS has good screenshot and screen recording features built-in, these apps take it to the next level. It’s worth noting that I almost always call these from keyboard commands, which I have remapped around the default Command-Shift-4 shortcut.
- TextSniper: Using the standard crosshairs, select an area of text on-screen and have it captured as plain text to the clipboard, ready for pasting elsewhere. Perfect for long strings of text that would be hard to remember or read in images. (Direct) (Mac App Store) (Setapp)
- Tapes: With a keyboard command or click, it starts a screen recording (of the whole screen or a selected area). When you stop the recording, it automatically uploads to their cloud service and puts the link on your clipboard for pasting. It’s the fastest way to make a simple screencast to demonstrate something on-screen (and without an ongoing subscription). (Direct) (Mac App Store)
- CleanShot X: Up your screenshot game with a host of features that you’ll wonder how you got along without them. Better annotations, persistent floating thumbnails, and the ability to hide messy desktop items are no-brainers. But the ability to customizable borders around capture areas to include bits of your desktop photo makes screenshots look more natural. And enhanced screen recording lets you add pop-ups for keystrokes, highlights mouse movement, and allows you to add a small HUD from your webcam for an easy personal touch during screencast tutorials. You need this app. (Direct) (Setapp)
These are but a few of the apps I have living in my menu bar. But you wouldn’t know because I have the rest managed and hidden with Bartender. This app allows you to hide extra menu bar icons behind a mouse-over or click on the ellipses icon (far left of my menu bar) and keep even the most persistent apps hidden. There are a few, like Time Machine, that I have configured only to appear if there’s ongoing activity happening in the app. That way, I know when things are happening on my Mac without having my menu bar overcrowded by apps.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed these links, or have something else exciting to share, please drop me a line on Twitter!