Supercharge your menu bar

25 May, 2012 by Anthony Caruana
AAA
Blogs

Do you want a way to see how your Mac is travelling? Software guru Anthony Caruana takes you through a couple of options to spruce up your menu bar.

iSTAT MENUS 3

US$16 from developer (www.bjango.com)

iStat Menus 3.

One of the problems with Apple’s elegant industrial design is that there are no warning or activity lights to let you know what your Mac is doing. For example, when you’re looking at something on the internet, is the connection stuck or is it active? Is your hard drive working or is an application stalled?

Sure, you could launch the Activity Monitor but wouldn’t it be easier if important information could be visible yet unobtrusive? That’s where iStat Menus comes to the fore.

The app adds a series of icons to the OS X menu bar so that you get a bird’s eye view of what’s happening inside your Mac. Each of the icons provides two things; a quick visual representation of how that part of your system is operating and a one-click drill- down so you can easily access detailed information.

For example, the system temperature sensor gives a quick snapshot of how warm your Mac is running. Click on the icon and iStat Menus shows you the current running temperature of all the key elements of your Mac.

This works because Apple has put sensors into its systems so that they can operate optimally, and has also provided access to the data from these sensors for programmers. If your Mac’s fan starts running loudly, you can look at the internal temperature of each component to see what’s happening.

A look at the CPU meter – each processor core can be looked at separately or the data can be aggregated from the iStat Menu preferences – shows not only how hard your processor is working but what processes are chewing up CPU cycles.

In addition to key system components, iStat Menus also provides a replacement for the default Date and Time menu item. If you click on the time using Apple’s normal clock, all you

get is the date and a toggle between analogue or digital display. iStat Menus shows a calendar, provides single-click access to iCal and lets you display the date and time in different timezones.

iStat Menus is one of the first apps we install on every Mac we have.

DROPLR

Free (www.droplr.com)

Droplr is one of those apps that is so simple you barely knew you needed it until it was on your Mac. It adds a single, simple icon to your Mac’s menu bar.

When you want to capture a bunch of text, an image or something else from your Mac, you simply drag and drop it onto the Droplr icon and it’s saved almost instantly to a cloud service that makes that information accessible from other Macs, PCs or iOS devices.

For example, say you’re reading some text on a website and want to keep it for later use. Select the text and drop it on the Droplr icon. It automatically syncs to the cloud and can then be opened on another Mac or iOS device. Think of it as a multi-device scrapbook-cum-clipboard that allows you gather disparate bits of information and then reassemble them later.

Droplr can also be used to quickly grab screen captures.

You can drag and drop content from iPhoto, PhotoBooth, Address Book and other OS X apps as well as text from within a document and files from Finder. You can share dropped content via Facebook, Twitter and email.

Droplr requires a user account.

The only information it requests is an email address and password. However, that user account allows you to see your synced content across multiple devices and platforms. You can also use Droplr’s web browser interface to manage your Droplets. Content you store in Droplr can be shared by simply choosing the Copy Link option from the menu bar icon.

Droplr ticks the boxes for usefulness, ease and price – a very handy app.

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