Geoffrey Wiseman

Bartender Dance

So, having been a long-time Mac user and a bit of a power user (developer), I have lots of apps installed, a fir number of tools and many of them want to sit on my menubar, or at least have little utilities that sit on my menubar. I've disabled some here and there, but often I actually like the tool and like having quick access to it.

Still, the menubar tray gets very crowded, and it feels like clutter.

For a few years, I've seen and have considered buying Bartender, an app that targets this exact problem by giving you some tools to manage the icons that appear on your menubar, and allows collapsing some of them into a sub-menu, but still giving you the option of having these icons appear briefly when they're trying to notify you of something.

It seemed like a good idea, a solid solution to a problem I actually have. I've considered getting it a few times, but have never actually pulled the trigger. A few weeks ago, I decided that I should at least give the free trial a spin.

Right after installing it, I liked it -- cleaned up my menu, easy to use, reasonably easy to configure.

Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that with some frequency, the items would seem to move around, or appear and disappear at odd times with no obvious correlation to a notification. Ultimately, I found it distracting.

A few days later, I realized that this seemed to be triggered by switching my focus from my MacBook Pro's screen to the external monitor and back, which seems to reliably cause Bartender to juggle its system tray icons in an annoying way. I captured this using Screenflow:

This is annoying enough that once the trial ends, I am not going to be buying Bartender. Maybe I'll try it again in the future, see if this behaviour persists. In the meantime, I'll just continue to manage these manually.

Update: I just got an email from one of the guys behind Bartender, who implies this is an uncommon and difficult-to-reproduce bug that he'll still try and resolve. Given that, you might not see the same thing in your setup, were you to try yourself. If I hear that this behaviour has been corrected, I'll give it another try and update the post.