As I have mentioned in multiple macOS software reviews that I have done, I install and use too many apps on my Mac. On any given day, there is a minimum of a hundred apps on my MBP. It’s now become the new normal, as well.
However, I can easily classify these apps into two categories, and they make all the difference.
Apps that I can’t live without and Apps that I want
There aren’t many macOS apps that I cannot live without. However, the ones on this list are so unique that I cannot imagine my Mac without them. In this article, I wanted to review the latest version of one of those fantastic apps — Bartender 3.
Are you always in search of productivity apps that can improve your macOS experience? Do you want an app that can give you a clean menu bar? Would you love an app that changes the way you use the menu bar of your MacBook or iMac? Keep reading our Bartender 3 review to find out what’s up.
What is Bartender 3?
Bartender 3 is a macOS productivity app that lets you manage your Mac’s menu bar in a better manner. Yes, we are talking about that area of your Mac UI that shows the battery percentage, time, and other icons from apps you have installed.
Using Bartender 3, you can control which, when, and how icons appear on the menu bar. You can hide/show icons as per your convenience and even based on automated scripts. The latest version now comes with a fantastic bunch of workflow optimizations as well.
The features of Bartender 3 work way better than the built-in customization options on macOS. Bartender 3 often gets a place in the must-have macOS apps lists as well. As of now, Bartender is available for Mac only, and that makes sense.
Why do I use Bartender 3?
Are you wondering why Bartender 3 is a must-have app of my Mac experience? Well, wait.
This is how my Mac’s menu bar looks when not using Bartender 3.
Before Bartender 3
As you can see, thanks to the many apps, widgets, and launch agents on my device, the menu-bar is a mess. But, more importantly, I don’t need all these menu bar icons at all times. For instance, I don’t want the native battery icon since I’m using an advanced widget from iStat Menus. Similarly, I don’t use the Alfred icon anymore; I just press Option + Space.
And, this is how my Mac’s menu bar looks when using Bartender 3.
After Bartender 3
As you can see, I have practically saved a lot of space from the menu bar. More importantly, the icons don’t take up all the areas on the macOS menu-bar interface. For me, this is an excellent way to focus and buckle up.
And, whenever I want to access the hidden icons, I can do that in a single click.
As you can see, a single click on the Bartender 3 icon expands all the hidden icons. And, I can access any of these icons as if from the regular Mac menu bar.
Long story short, Bartender 3 keeps me sane at all times. I don’t have to get distracted by the tens of icons on the menu bar when I just want to connect to my AirPods (thanks to ToothFairy.)
What makes Bartender 3 great?
Here are a few factors why we think everyone should use Bartender 3.
Well Integrated with macOS
Bartender 3 is ultimately an app that takes over the system UI. However, the developers have optimized the code for the best results with macOS Sierra, High Sierra, Mojave, and Catalina. I’ve been using this tool since macOS Sierra, and the experience remains as smooth as the old days even today. The developers have added new features to the package.
For instance, the latest build of Bartender 3 now supports control over apps like Multipass. Also, the multi-screen mode works flawlessly. You also have full support for Dark Mode.
As the core app, Bartender 3 does not open a window while running. However, when it is time to make some changes, you can open up the full-sized UI. As you can see, Bartender 3 allows you to customize how each app icon behaves on the menu bar. You can choose options like Show, Hide, Always Show, and Never Show — all according to your preferences.
Long story short, Bartender 3 does more than helping you hide some icons. You can even program icons to show only when they are updating.
If you are like me, you don’t want to touch the mouse in between an important workflow. And, Bartender 3 comes in quite handy here. The app allows you to set up hotkeys for managing the menu bar and individual icons on the bar. You can even use the arrow keys to navigate between different menu bar widgets and open sub-menus. Of course, you can expand the Bartender menu in a single shot.
I did take time to get used to this feature, I admit. However, once I had, these keyboard shortcuts did help me save a considerable amount of time. You can also search for a specific menu bar item if the list is too big.
Last but not least, Bartender 3 is very effective when it comes to handling issues. For instance, there may be some apps that have a malfunctioning menu bar widget. Even in this case, Bartender 3 Preferences pane can give you a solution.
Overall, we loved how Bartender 3 creates the perfect balance between intuitive User Interface and a superb set of features. Once you install the tool and take time to learn the hotkeys, Bartender 3 can soon become an integral part of your Mac workflow.
What could be better?
Trust me, I tried hard to find issues with Bartender 3 for the sake of writing this review, but I seriously couldn’t find anything worth mentioning. As I said, I’ve been using this app for quite some time, and it hasn’t even crashed once. I can’t say the same for many other productivity apps I have tried on Mac, though.
I mean, from what I’ve learned, the developers of Bartender 3 do a fantastic job of finding bugs and fixing them without any delay. For instance, in the last version, they’ve fixed many handling errors and one issue with the order of items on the Preference pane. Now that I’m using the latest version, these issues are not bothering me, either.
One small suggestion I have is to improve the keyboard-based navigation within the menu bar. It would be nice to have a standard navigation system that makes it easy to expand and dissolve the in-depth menus. I think the current system is not up to the mark.
I think, apart from this, Bartender 3 is a perfect productivity app for macOS.
Availability and pricing
As of now, Bartender 3 is available for macOS only. If you have a Mac running macOS Sierra or later, you can use Bartender 3 with all its glory.
Although Bartender 3 is a paid app, it offers a full-feature free trial for four weeks, which is fantastic. Once you have finished the trial, you can get it for just $15.
Bartender 3 is also available through Setapp, the subscription of which costs even less than that per month. I’ve been using Bartender 3 through Setapp all these while.
Is Bartender 3 worth it?
On any day, I’d love not only to recommend Bartender 3 to my readers but also to give you some guarantee that Bartender 3 will improve your productivity. Besides providing a clean and minimal menu bar experience on your Mac, Bartender 3 brings features that I value as a professional. And, when you want to spend the minimum amount of time in setting things up, you’d love Bartender 3 too. By any standard, $15 is a reasonable charge for such a productive app.