If you have been using Mac for some time, you know the importance of monitoring and optimizing its system resources. For one, you cannot expect the best performance from your Mac if you do not know where your system resources are going.
For example, if a particular app consumes most of your CPU resources, you will find it difficult to multitask. In addition, the loading times of apps, in general, will also be affected. As a result, your Mac may turn slower, and you may even see the Mac wheel of death.
Here’s the whole point: you cannot skip monitoring your Mac.
However, frequently switching back and forth between your work and a system monitoring app is no easy task. So, won’t it be great if you could monitor your Mac from the menu bar? Likewise, won’t it be superb if you could quit heavy-duty apps from the menu bar itself?
With iStat Menus, all these and more are possible. We had recommended iStat Menu when we covered the best Mac system monitor apps. In this review of iStat Menus, we shall learn how the app works and whether you should get the menu-bar system monitoring app for your Mac.
What is iStat Menus?
iStat Menus is an advanced Mac system monitor that stays on your menu bar. It provides accurate data and insights from different sections like CPU, GPU, Memory, Network, Sensors, Disk Usage, Date & Time, and Battery/Power.
In addition, you can set up iStat Menus to show weather data and notifications as you wish. Customizability is perhaps the best thing about iStat Menus because you get to control what appears on your menu bar. iStat Menus can easily compete with fully-fledged Mac system monitors on the market.
It’s just that iStat Menus stays exclusively on your menu bar. It means, among other things, you can access Mac system monitoring data without leaving the current app. For us, the core idea behind iStat Menus itself seems novel.
Setting up and getting started
Once you have installed iStat Menus from the official website, App Store, or Setapp, you can set everything up in a few seconds. You may have to install a helper plugin to activate all the data options on the tool. But, for the most part, the entire process is automated.
You can see the menu bar entries from the iStat Menus collection in a few seconds. By default, all the menu bar items may be enabled. But you can change it from the dashboard.
As you can see on the screenshot, iStat Menus lets you enable different menu bar items individually. In my case, I have allowed only a few options, such as CPU/GPU, RAM, Network, Battery & Power. By the way, the app also has a Combined menu bar entry. This entry will show a summary of network resource consumption.
Rest assured, you won’t be confused about the setup process. There are a few reasons.
Like most apps we recommend at TheSweetBits, iStat Menus also uses a minimal and intuitive UI. So, it does not matter whether you are a tech geek.
In addition, while iStat Menus provides you access to in-detail monitoring data, it does not make it difficult to navigate around the app.
First and most importantly, the iStat Menus menu items integrate well with the macOS menu bar. The UI can change the color and shading according to your mode: Dark or White. We also love the design because it does not consume a lot of space on the menu bar.
You will love this feature if you use multiple menu bar apps on your Mac. I love this because I like to have a cleaned-up menu bar, also thanks to Bartender app.
What can you monitor using iStat Menus?
Let’s look at the different menu bar entries you can set up on iStat Menus.
You can set up custom notifications based on variables like CPU usage, available memory, network change, disk space, battery level, sensor values, etc. For instance, you can get notified when the CPU usage is more than 50% for more than 10 seconds. Similarly, you can get a notification your battery is about to die.
The Weather section of iStat Menus will show you rich weather information for the current location. On top of the standard information like the temperature, you also have access to wind, humidity, visibility, and total pressure. In addition, you can easily change how the weather panel looks.
CPU & GPU
You have a variety of options while showing CPU and GPU load. For example, if you want quick access to comprehensive data, you can set up a single widget. However, on the flip side, you can include additional metrics like average load, uptime, list of processes, etc.
It works better because of the folded design within menu bar entries. For instance, when you hover over the Load section in the CPU menu bar item, you can see detailed information on the CPU load.
So, unless you need to know more, you can access all the information in a compact form. We love this aspect of the UI on the iStat Menus app.
On a related note, we should also appreciate the Combined Mode. This mode allows you to access different types of system monitoring information without losing a lot of space on the menu bar.
The Memory section also offers plenty of information regarding your Mac’s RAM consumption. You can look at the overall usage from the menu bar. But if you want advanced knowledge, you can learn about different types of memory, SWAP usage, top-usage apps, etc.
You can also use iStat Menus to track the performance and stats from your Mac’s SSD. You get to know about the available storage on your Mac and the processes using your disk resources.
iStat Menus has a widget dedicated to network resource monitoring. You can enable this menu bar entry to know more about how your network resources are used. It is a great way to understand which apps use up your internet quota.
Did you know that your Mac contains many thermal sensors you can monitor? Fans, CPU, GPU, SSD, Apple Neural Engine, and Image Signal Processor have these sensors. In addition, you can use iStat Menus to keep track of their temperatures and even control how quickly your MacBook fans are spinning.
As you can guess, the battery section lets you know the battery status, health, number of charging cycles, and condition. You can also detect the apps consuming most of your battery resources. According to our experiences, these statistics are as precise as they get.
As you can see, the variety of information that you can track using iStat Menus is pretty rich. It also allows you to place additional details, such as the date and time, on the menu bar.
And we loved how customizable all these menu bar entries are.
The customizability factor
With iStat Menus, it is easy to control how individual menu bar entries look. For instance, as we said before, you can use the Combined View mode to save space on the menu bar. Alternatively, you can turn on all the entries you want to see on the menu bar.
Now, there are two ways to customize:
- The overall design
- Individual menu bar
In the overall design part, you can change the color and shading of the menu bar entries in general. You can, for instance, change the color of drop-down arrows and alter the update frequency. It also lets you decide whether you need separate style systems for Light and Dark modes.
You can also customize how individual entries look and behave. For instance, you can set up iStat Menus to show the battery percentage of the Bluetooth devices you have connected. Similarly, you can choose one of the many ways to show the network activity statistics.
In short, we are thoroughly impressed by the customizability that iStat Menus offers. It is also great that you can set up hotkeys for each entry. So, you can open the CPU/GPU/Memory/Network pane without moving your cursor.
Availability and pricing
iStat Menus is available only for Mac. You need a Mac running macOS 10.11 to use the latest version of the app.
As for the pricing, you can get the single license of iStat Menus for $14.15. If you want to use it on up to five Macs, you can get the family license for $17.69.
But, of course, iStat Menus is a part of the Setapp app catalog. So, if you have a Setapp subscription, which costs $9.99 per month, you do not need a separate purchase.
After testing iStat Menus for a few months, we are 100% confident to recommend it to our users. Because it gives you access to accurate statistics and insights, you can count on the app to help you make your Mac’s maintenance decisions. It also works as a great option if you are simply curious to know more about stats.
In particular, we loved the option to adjust the fan speeds manually. It can easily compete with dedicated tools like TG Pro in this department. Throughout the testing period, the app was stable and bug-free as well. So, we have more reasons to recommend iStat Menus.