10 Menu bar tips every OS X user should know

They're hidden in plain sight

If this is you: “You’re telling me there’s hidden controls in the Menu bar?” Then the answer is yes, indeed there are -- and soon you’ll know them, too.

Do Not Disturb

Press the wonderful Option key and click on the Notifications Menu and you’ll see the Menu grey out. This is because when you Option-click this item you automatically enable Do Not Disturb. You’ll get no more Notifications until you Option-click the Notifications Menu once again. That’s a great way to gain a little privacy while you get things done.

Icon management

You can move some of the icons at the top right of your Menu bar around. You can’t move Finder menu items, the Spotlight or Notification menu items.

To do so, just click on the icon while pressing the Command key and drag the item to a new position – you must be very careful not to drag the icon off the menu bar, as it will disappear, as things do if dragged out of the Dock.

Sound advice

Did I mention the power of the Option key? Here it is again: Option-click the Sound menu and all your audio input and output devices will appear, including any AirPlay systems you might have. This is the ‘go-to’ way to manage your audio I/O in normal use – and it's also pretty handy if you’re working with audio apps and want to switch audio sources on the fly.

Et tu, Wi-Fi?

Most people already know this one, but in case you don’t: Tap the Wi-Fi icon in the normal way and you’ll see nothing more exciting than a list of available networks; however, press the Option key while tapping Wi-Fi and you’ll read important information about your network and get direct access to Apple’s seriously useful Wireless Diagnostics app.


Try an Option-tap on the Bluetooth icon and you’ll gain access to additional information about your set-up, and a tool that creates a diagnostic report concerning your Bluetooth network behavior on your desktop.

Old standard

OS X hides the Library folder. That’s fine most of the time. But on the day you find you need to access your Library folder, all you need to do is click on Go in the menubar when the Finder is in use, press Option and select Library. You’ll thank me one day.

Recent Items

Hold down the command key while choosing Recent Items in the Apple menu and you’ll be able to navigate to the specific folder these items are situated in – this is a direct line to your documents and apps.


Don’t hesitate to explore the Menu items for every application you use with and without your Option key depressed. In Safari, for example, you’ll find additional tools hidden in the Window item; in Finder you’ll find both “Minimize All” and “Zoom All” commands in the Window menu. Most apps have these hard-to-find commands.

Easy navigation

The easiest way to find just which folder an item you've selected in a Finder window resides in is to command click on the title at the top of the Finder window. Now you’ll see a list that traces the folder hierarchy all the way to the top. This helps you figure out where something is, and gives you an easy way to navigate the system path.

Go dark

New in Yosemite is the capacity to use a dark Menu and dock. Activate these in System Preferences>General and tick the “Use dark menu bar and Dock” item you’ll find just below “Appearance” at the top.

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