What’s on the menu?


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The dust from the discussions @foxmwoods and I were having about the MacBook Air have settled. The initial excitement has faded (well, not for some) and we’ve become silent while we tweak the Airs to be everything we ever wanted, but no more.

In the spirit of sharing nerdy information, here’s what I have going on in my menu bar (on both my Mac Pro and my Air). Menu bar

  1. Tweetie — my desktop Twitter app of choice. It’s small, quick, and easy. And native. Not much in the way of updates, which I guess could be saying something positive. Recetly, it’s been giving me a “Bad gateway” error on my main timeline almost every time I launch it, which sucks. Also, I can’t delete a tweet, and I can’t view a list of followed people when I want to send them a public or direct message. I’m considering looking for an alternative. Any suggestions?
  2. Dropbox — a must if you use more than one computer. A quick, easy, and so far flawless way to backup and/or sync files between multiple computers. Just drop your file into a specific folder and it appears on all other machines running dropbox.

    I use it almost solely for transferring image files from my Mac Pro (with Photoshop) to my Air (with blogging software). for example, I drop some images I want to post into the folder on the Mac Pro, and when I open my Air down at the pool a fw minutes later, I have that file. Super handy.

  3. BetterTouchTool — an awesome way to customise gestures for your trackpad. Kinda beta, but work well. I especially like the Windows 7-esque window snapping.
  4. ClipMenu — lightweight, system-wide clipboard history. Don’t use it too often, but when I do, I’m really glad it’s there.
  5. Monocle — easily search the websites you want to. A custom keyboard brings up the search field, some custom keystrokes select the page or service I want to search, I type, and hit enter. By default I have it search Wikipedia, but I also have imdb, google image, YouTube, OSX Hints, and Wiktionary, included.
  6. Menu Meters — a real time evaluation of my CPU activity and network traffic. CPU activity tells if something has hung in an infinite loop, as opposed to a heavy use, when no other indicators are shown (I’m looking at you Flash). Network traffic lets me see when I’m uploading/downloading/transferring stuff in the background. Fully customisable. Fully sick. Especially with 8-cores (more on that in a later post)
  7. MobileMe Sync — I know when my shit’s syncing. Also used to manually sync if I add a new contact or bookmarks I need distributed ASAP.
  8. Time Machine — because I like to manually back up after some major work or photo import. Also, I love watching the icon spin backwards when it’s doing its thing. Clever design.
  9. Bluetooth — keep tabs on battery level of my Magic Mouse.
  10. WiFi — piece of mind. I like to know I’m connected.
  11. MenuCalendarClock (for iCal) — replace the standard date/time with a completely customisable clock and drop down calendar. Handy for quickly looking up calendar events. The main reason I use it is to get a succinct display of the date. Why doesn’t OSX do this?
  12. Spotlight — I never use it and wish I could just switch it off. I use Launchbar to search for files and launch apps.

That’s it. I hope you’ve found something you might now use in your menu bar. If not, you can see a very large, but somewhat outdated, collection of menu bar apps on this page. Kudos for the Aussie reference.