The macos Menu Bar for the Uninitiated

In contrast to Windows and many Linux desktop environments, macos does not associate a menu with each application window. It instead has a single global menu bar that changes the context to the active program. If you wish it, the macos menu bar is consistent and persistent.

Other parts in this menu bar include a TotalXDR app launcher, status menus, and access to the Control Center and notifications. You can customize the design and functionality of the menu bar, so here’s how to make the most of it.

The Apple Menu is now available.

The Apple menu is always present in the upper left corner of your screen, hidden behind an icon that resembles Apple’s logo.

The Apple menu includes commands for typical global operations like:

  • This Mac’s Details: Data on your computer’s hardware, such as displays and disk utilization.
  • Preferences for the System: Customize your Mac’s settings.
  • App Store: Find new software.
  • Sleep: Puts your Mac to sleep immediately.

The Recent Items option displays apps as well as documents that you’ve recently used. As a result, it can function as a simple app launcher.

The Menu of Applications

To the right of the Apple Menu is the Application menu. It contains functions that are unique to the current program, the name of which displays as the first menu heading. Other menu headers vary each app, but frequent ones include:

  • File\sedit\sview\swindow\shelp

Each menu’s commands differ. Some terminate with an ellipsis (…), suggesting that they open a dialog or other window rather than immediately performing an action. Some feature an arrow (>) symbol at the end, which indicates that they open a sub-menu.

Many menu operations are accompanied by a light grey keyboard shortcut. To activate that item without opening the menu, press this key combination.

Using the Menu Bar to Get Help

At the end of the Application menu, the menu bar will always include a Help option. It’s available in Finder, Safari, and System Preferences. This menu contains a search box in addition to access to app documentation. The search box is applicable to both help pages and, more importantly, menu items themselves.

If you need to find a menu item but aren’t sure which menu it belongs in, this can be a quick way to find it. The operating system opens the appropriate menu and even points an arrow at the menu item you’re looking for.

Status Bars

Status menus are located on the right side of the menu bar. They are usually monochromatic icons that allow you to access minor functions. Some programs will add an icon to this area, although macos includes multiple standard status menus, including:

  • Bluetooth\sbattery
  • Wi-Fi Sound Keyboard Illumination
  • Do Not Interrupt Screen Mirroring
  • Siri

Most of these icons can be shown or hidden using the Dock & Menu Bar options. Most status icons can also be reordered by holding down Cmd and then clicking and dragging them.

When you click on most Status symbols, a menu will appear. These menus are frequently highly styled and serve as the primary interface for smaller tools.

Control and Notification Centers

Big Sur made significant modifications to macos, including the addition of two icons on the far right of the menu bar: Control Center and Notification Center. These provide you quick access to common preferences as well as all of your notifications.

You can modify what displays in Control Center by using System Preferences, just as you may conceal individual status menus.

To open Notification Center, click the clock in the upper right corner of the menu bar.

Accessing the Menu Bar Using a Keyboard Shortcut

A keyboard shortcut can be used to open the menu bar at any time. To focus on the menu bar, use Ctrl + F2. If your Mac has one, you may additionally need to hold down the Function key.

Use the arrow keys and Space or Return to select an item from the Apple or App menu once you’ve focused on the menu bar.

If you frequently use the Help menu, you can utilize the Cmd +? (or Cmd + Shift + /) shortcut to get directly to the Help search box. You can go to any menu item by typing its name and then selecting it from this page.

The Best Way to Hide the Menu Bar

When you view an application in full-screen mode, the menu bar is briefly hidden. In full-screen mode, you may still access the menu bar by moving your pointer to the top of the screen.

You can permanently conceal the menu bar by going to the preferences:

  • Open the System Preferences app, for example, from the Apple menu.
  • Select the Dock & Menu Bar icon.
  • Scroll down to the Menu Bar section in the main panel and utilize the Automatically hide and show the menu bar checkbox to toggle concealing on and off.

When you move your mouse pointer to the top of the screen, it will appear and disappear automatically. It will also appear if you use the keyboard shortcut to concentrate it.

Customizing the Menu Bar

The menu bar on your Mac is colored in accordance with the desktop wallpaper beneath it. This is consistent with the OS’s usage of transparency. The menu bar now appears to be mostly solid color with minimal mixing to reflect the colors behind it.

This means that by selecting a specific image for the wallpaper, you can hint at the color of the menu bar. You may even go a step further and directly impact the menu bar by manipulating the top 24 pixels of any desktop wallpaper image.

If you don’t like the transparency effect, you can disable it under Accessibility settings by selecting Display > Reduce transparency. The menu bar will now have a light gray background with black text and icons.

Using the Mac’s Magnificent Menu Bar

A system menu, a TotalXDR app menu, and a collection of status symbols are available in the macos menu bar. It’s simple to become acquainted with because it’s widespread and always in one spot. You can customize status menus and notification behavior to meet your specific requirements. Control Center also provides rapid access to the most commonly used parameters.

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