10 Free Menu Bar Apps for Better Productivity

Everyone loves feeling productive, and OS X is an excellent platform for working efficiently and getting things done. In recent months we have rounded up 5 productivity applications along with reviewing Things and The Hit List.

Today we’re venturing to the OS X menu bar to showcase 10 simple utilities that can help you work smarter. You’ll be able to launch applications quicker, worry less about the time, track the unproductive parts of your day, and even manage a small to-do list – all for free!

RescueTime

RescueTime

RescueTime

RescueTime is a “web-based time management and analytics tool” for assisting with becoming more productive. The application sits in your menu bar and monitors the time you spend on different tasks, using certain applications. This data is then collected and presented in a usable way through the RescueTime website.

The application is free for light, personal use, and can help to shed light on the areas of your working day where you don’t get much done. It takes a little time to set up, but can be a really invaluable tool.

Price: Free
Developer: RescueTime
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or higher

FuzzyClock

FuzzyClock

FuzzyClock

Often you don’t need the exact time in hours, minutes and seconds. A more human readable style like “five past ten” makes more sense. FuzzyClock is a menubar clock which displays the current time in a “fuzzy” style.

I find this to be particularly useful as it removes the temptation to worry about one minute of time here or there. It also removes the mindless “clock watching” you may find yourself falling into, just watching the minutes tick by!

Price: Free
Developer: ObjectPark
Requires: Mac OS X version 10.4

TigerLaunch

TigerLaunch

TigerLaunch

TigerLaunch is an easy-to-use and easy-to-configure application launcher for OS X. It displays an Apps menu at the top of your screen listing all your applications in alphabetical order. Another benefit is that you can be more selective about what apps are dock-worthy, so your dock doesn’t get so cluttered.

You can easily configure it to exclude applications you rarely or never launch, and it also looks into sub-folders to save you needing to navigate through the Applications folder.

Price: Free
Developer: No longer in development
Requires: Mac OS X 10.1 or later

TinyAlarm

TinyAlarm

TinyAlarm

TinyAlarm is a tiny alarm clock for your menu bar. It’s incredibly simple to configure, and makes it easy to be sure you aren’t spending too long on a particular task. It’s equally useful if you need to remember to call someone (or take the pizza out the oven!).

Price: Free
Developer: Pixelated Software
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later

Caffeine

Caffeine

Caffeine

Caffeine is a tiny program that puts an icon in the right side of your menu bar. Click it to prevent your Mac from automatically going to sleep, dimming the screen or starting screen savers. Click it again to go back. Hold down the Command key while clicking to show the menu.

This is remarkably simple, but a real time-saver when you’re trying to read a document or watch a video online.

Price: Free
Developer: Lighthead
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later

MenuPrefs

MenuPrefs

MenuPrefs

MenuPrefs is a simple utility for quickly opening a particular panel of System Preferences. Another time-saving utility, you’ll spend few valuable minutes waiting for the first pane of preferences to load. It may not seem like much, but every second adds up!

Price: Free
Developer: iThink Software
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later

CheckOff

CheckOff

Check Off

Check Off is a menu bar based to-do list for Mac OS X. If you don’t feel the need for a full-featured task management app (or can’t justify the price), this simple tool may do the job perfectly.

Price: Free
Developer: Open Source
Requires: Mac OS X 10.1 or later

Jumpcut

Jumpcut

Jumpcut

Jumpcut is a simple utility that acts as a buffer for your OS X clipboard. It will store any text that you’ve copy-and-pasted (you can customize how far back it goes). This can save you from that awful moment when you realize your clipboard contents have just been overwritten.

Unfortunately it only works with text, though other full-featured apps are available if you need something more advanced.

Price: Free
Developer: Open Source
Requires: OS X 10.3.9 or later

AllBookmarks

AllBookmarks

AllBookmarks

AllBookmarks adds a new item to your menu bar giving you quick access to all your bookmarks. All your Safari, Firefox and Flock bookmarks are shown and can be selected. This is incredibly useful for quick access to websites.

If you own a copy of 1Password, it also fully integrates to allow quick login to all the sites you have stored.

Price: Free
Developer: Agile Web
Requires: OS X 10.4 or later

Fluid

Fluid

Fluid

Fluid offers the ability to convert your favorite web app into a MenuExtra Site Specific Browser (SSB) – an SSB that exists only as an icon in your menu bar next. Click the MenuExtra SSB’s icon and your chosen web app appears as a drop down window. Perfect for sites you access multiple times a day (like Twitter clients, email, or Digg).

It saves you needing to navigate to each site individually, but can equally act as a distraction if you’re not careful!

Price: Free
Developer: Fluid App
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5 or later

Conclusion

Hopefully a few of the menu bar applications featured will lead to you feeling more productive throughout the day. We haven’t featured any software which acts a “notifier” (for email, RSS, Twitter etc), as I feel it acts as a distraction and actually leads to me getting less done!

Please feel free to share a selection of the productivity software you use in your menu bar. I’m always fascinated to see other setups!


  • http://www.parisvega.com/blog/ Paris Vega

    MenuPrefs is such a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.robinmalau.com Robin

    Thanks for the tips. I’ve been using Rescue Time & Caffeine for a while and it’s great. Now i’m going to use AllBookmarks.

  • http://www.simpleleap.com/cram/mac.htm PatrickC

    I’ve been looking for a replacement for my time management app.. I’ll give Rescue Time a try.

  • http://samanthaarmacost.com Samantha Armacost

    During MacHeist a multitude of users suggested Caffeine. I don’t know how I got along before without it.

  • Jason

    This is one of my favorites. It allows you to monitor processors, RAM, etc. Very handy!

    http://www.islayer.com/apps/istatmenus/

    • Jason

      I should mention that you don’t have to use all of the utilities at once. And they are all highly customizable for space.

    • LeMerlot

      Great addition Jason, couldn’t live without it – especially CPU and RAM monitor are very helpful!

  • Pooria

    Thanks! this things gonna save an awful lot of time!

    Can you name an “other full-featured app” like “Jumpcut” ?
    I know you’ve already done that and I’m sure as hell I’ve seen that in the reviews section, but I can’t remember it nor I can find it, and I need it ( I think ) badly.
    :)

    • http://tykjpelk.net Mari

      Shadow does the same thing as Jumpcut, only better, imo. And it also works with images and other stuff, iirc. Still in public beta, but great little app. You can also share clipboards, though I haven’t really checked out that feature yet.

      http://www.theescapers.com/shadow/

      • Dr.Theopolis

        I’ve used PTHPasteboard for years. Same kinda thing as Jumpcut, it’s free as well, but allows for formatting and also images as opposed to text-only.

    • http://twitter.com/cupcakeluv Brooke

      i have had good luck with iPaste
      http://www.iggsoftware.com/ipaste/

    • Nathan Lunsford

      I’ve been enjoying iClip a great deal, though it isn’t free. If you are a user of Quicksilver, there is a clipboard module that I have also had good luck with and has good functionality, though it started acting a little quirky, at least for me on Leopard.

    • Pooria

      Thank you all! 4 nice guy, 4 nice app – what a beautiful world!

    • http://sg-techlandscape.blogspot.com Dr_SG

      The menubar clipboard manafer that I use is clipmenu:
      http://www.clipmenu.com/

      It allows for text, images, and just about anything else you might want. It allows you to execute actions upon a clipboard item, such as capitalization, enclosing with various types of brackets, collapsing spaces, etc. Clipmenu also gives you the ability to specify often-used snippets of text that you can insert from the menu.

      • http://sg-techlandscape.blogspot.com Dr_SG

        I meant clipboard “manager,” not “manafer” ;o)

        I forgot one of the most important features of clipmenu. It’s free.

  • Steve

    I use Growl, and more specifically GrowlMail, to help me keep moving along. When I am working on a huge batch of images to edit it is helpful to have a preview of the email pop up. I can choose to ignore it, or if i click on it all i see is the email window, not my whole inbox. I tend to do most of my work in one space and keep things like mail.app and ical in another space. Using GrowlMail keeps me from having to stop and switch spaces every-time I want to check if i’ve gotten an email. GrowlTunes is also helpful because I am usually listening to iTunes and is does the basically the same thing for me.

  • artmania

    Check Off is cool!! thanks for link :) it is very handy for quick notes :>

  • exitstencil

    i’ve been using Caffeine for ages and couldn’t get along without it. i have also started using the free 2GB version of DropBox – http://www.getdropbox.com – synched between 3 macs at home and work, for when i’ve forgotten my USB stick and files are too big to email. very useful.

  • http://jonsi.net jonrh

    Another nice menu app I use is Pomodoro: http://pomodoro.ugolandini.com/

    It’s an app that helps you mange and progressively make more use of your time with the Pomodoro Technique: http://www.pomodorotechnique.com/

  • Fausto

    Love it!

  • Jacknife

    I use Clyppan as an alternative to Jumpcut. It used to be called Clipster I think. Very good app and free.

    http://www.omh.cc/clyppan/

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  • http://www.m65jacket.com m65

    menuprefs is a very good one thanks

  • http://www.martinvaresio.com.ar Orfebre

    When I am working on a huge batch of images to edit it is helpful to have a preview of the email pop up

  • John

    Do It should be on this list, I found it to be the best.

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