How to Customize the Menu Bar in macOS

The Menu Bar is an essential tool for macOS users looking to supercharge their productivity without overcrowding the desktop with too many active windows. Learn how to effortlessly customize the Menu Bar by rearranging items, freeing toggles from Control Center, and adding glanceable info such as battery percentage in a few clicks. Optimizing the Menu Bar to directly cater to your distinct workflow(s) can help you get more done in less time.

  1. To reorder items in the Menu Bar, hover over a toggle with your cursor. In this tutorial, we are going to move the Wi-Fi button.
Monterey Menu Bar Wifi
  1. Hold down the Command key on your keyboard.
Monterey Menu Bar Command Key Shown
  1. Click and drag the icon that you would like to move while continuing to press the Command key.
Monterey Menu Bar Wifi Move
  1. Once you have placed the menu bar item in its new location, lift your finger off the Command key and your mouse or trackpad. In this example we moved the Wi-Fi icon from its original location placing it between the Spotlight (magnifying glass) and the battery indicator.
Wifi New Location Menu Bar

Adding New Items to the Menu Bar

There are two ways to reorder Menu Bar items on macOS: using a keyboard shortcut and a more straightforward though lengthier process that utilizes the “System Preferences” app.

Add Menu Bar Items Using Control Center

  1. To add a new item from “Control Center” to the Menu Bar, first activate Control Center by clicking on its icon. The icon for Control Center illustrates on/off switches stacked vertically above and below one and another.
Monterey Menu Bar Control Center
  1. Click and hold on any one of the bordered modules in “Control Center” to lift it from the menu as a standalone module. In this example we will be dragging the “Display” toggle out of Control Center and into the menu bar.
Monterey Menu Bar Display
  1. After performing a click-and-hold action on the control module that you would like to move, drag your cursor up into the Menu Bar to add the new item. In this how-to, we added the display brightness toggle to the menu bar between keyboard brightness and battery indicator.
Monterey Menu Bar Display Brightness

Add/Remove Menu Bar Items Using System Preferences

  1. To add new Menu Bar items using the “System Preferences” app, click on the grey app icon overlayed with mechanical gears. The default macOS layout positions the “System Preferences” app to the far right of the dock.
Monterey System Preference App
  1. After launching “System Preferences” click on the “Dock & Menu Bar” menu between “Mission Control” and “Desktop & Screen Saver”.
Monterey Dock Menu Bar
  1. Scroll the leftmost menu to view the listed toggles that are available from Control Center.
Monterey Control Center Toggles
  1. Click on the control module that you would like to add to your Menu Bar. In this example we are selecting AirDrop.
Monterey Menu Bar Airdrop Check
  1. Click the empty checkbox next to the text that reads “Show in Menu Bar” to add the item. Uncheck the box to remove the item from the Menu Bar.
  1. To swiftly remove items from the menu bar hold down the Command key and hover over the control toggle that you would like to remove.
  1. Click and drag the menu item that you would like to remove while continuing to press the Command key. In this example we are removing the “Display” item represented by a white glyph of a computer monitor.
Display Icon Menu Bar
  1. Continue dragging the icon toward the center of the screen until you see a white circle with a grey “X” appear.
Monterey Menu Bar Removing
  1. Release your fingers from the Command key and your mouse or trackpad to finish removing the selected menu item. The item will dissolve and disappear.

Adding Battery Status in the Menu Bar

  1. To view the battery percentage on your Mac laptop start by launching the “System Preferences” app.
Monterey System Preference App 1
  1. Then select “Dock & Menu Bar” menu between “Mission Control” and “Desktop & Screen Saver”.
Monterey Dock Menu Bar 1
  1. Navigate to the “Battery” menu by scrolling down the sidebar on the left until you see a section titled “Other Modules”.
Monterey Menu Bar Battery
  1. Check the box next to the dialog that says “Show Percentage” to reveal battery percentage in the Menu Bar.
Monterey Menu Bar Battery Percentage

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I hide the Menu Bar?

To hide the Menu Bar, navigate to “System Preferences -> Dock & Menu Bar -> Automatically Hide and Show the Menu Bar on Desktop”.

How can I remove my name from the Menu Bar?

Removing your name from the Menu Bar is similar to the workflow for removing regular menu items. You’ll need to access “Dock & Menu bar”. From the left side of the screen, select “Fast user switching” under the “Other modules” category. Untick the “Show in menu bar” option.

How do I locate the System Preferences app if I don’t see it in the dock?

Open the “Finder” window by clicking on the blue icon with a smiley face in the bottom left-hand corner of the display. Then select “Applications” from the sidebar aligned to the left of the “Finder” window. Scroll the grid of applications to find the app labeled “System Preferences”.

Image credit: macos high sierra in the screen of macbook pro by 123RF. All screenshots by Brahm Shank

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