Mac users sometimes have to make trade-offs between usefulness and simplicity. The angst around this challenge often focuses on the menu bar, the most persistent part of OS X, usually reserved for critical information. Fortunately, we've got 10 Mac geeks here who can help you keep your menu bar apps straight.
David Barnard - Founder of App Cubby
Ben Brooks - Proprietor of The Brooks Review
Favorite app is Day One because I always wanted to keep journal and Day One is the most beautiful and easiest to use journal out there.
Least favorite thing in the menu bar: Notification Center.
Dan Frommer - Proprietor of SplatF and editor-at-large of ReadWriteWeb
There's a lot of stuff up here, but don't let that trick you. I don't use any of these, and haven't been into menu bar apps since roughly Mac OS 8. Now that Apple updates the system software so regularly, and I have so much work to do, I try to use as "stock" a system install as possible. (Also, I have two Macs and two iOS devices, so I already have enough problems keeping everything updated.)
I do use the volume and AirPort menus occasionally, and Spotlight for search. And because Bluetooth is just awful, I'm always being reminded that my Magic Trackpad is out of batteries, even though I just put new ones in. But as far as the Twitter, Dropbox, Skype, Adium app thingies, I mostly ignore them.
Abraham Hyatt - Managing editor of ReadWriteWeb
I think the menu bar is a little window into a Mac user's workflow philosophy. There are two kinds of apps that live in mine: the ones I use all day long (nvALT, PTHPasteboard, GrabBox) but only occasionally need access via the menu bar, and apps that exist only in the menu bar. In the latter category, Alarms (a brilliant drag-and-drop way to create to-dos and alarms) and Notify (feature-rich menubar access to Gmail) get the most use. I'm trying out Fantastical but I'm not sure I'm going to keep it. FuzzyClock serves no purpose other than to remind me to not get trapped in the obsessive, seconds-count-more-than-quality news blogging mindset.
Brett Kelly - Author of Evernote Essentials
My menu bar has recently found new life in a little app called Bartender, which lets me shove most of my icons into a secondary bar that I only see when I want to (or when one of the hidden apps starts chirping at me). So simple, for sure, but I no longer suffer menu bar icons hidden behind the active app's "Help" menu. I love this app.
Manya - Tech-focused social connector and thrillseeker
The cloud icon, 5th from the left, is a menu bar app called CloudApp. It's great for quickly generating a link to share things such as text files and screen shots. While you can do the same thing with Dropbox, which I also have installed, its beauty is in its simplicity. I share a lot of screen shots, and CloudApp is perfect for taking a snapshot of something to share in the moment. The things I share with Cloud App are dispensable, so I rarely go back and reference anything previously shared, even though you can. This is where it differs from my use of Dropbox, where I sync and store things I'll need to access repeatedly.
Jon Mitchell - Staff writer at ReadWriteWeb
I pack a lot of apps into that menu bar. It's coveted space, so an app has to be critical to make it in there. But there are two that absolutely have to be there, and I can't choose which one is more important. One is Caffeine, which you click once to fill the coffee cup, thus keeping your screen from going to sleep. The other is f.lux, which is the only reason my brain still works. It gradually shifts the colors of your screen toward the red end of the spectrum as the sun goes down, so the daylight glare from your screen doesn't mess with your circadian rhythms at night.
Ted Rheingold - VP, social at Say Media
I like as few distraction/interruptions as possible. If I want to use an app, I load it. If I can hide it from the menu bar, I will. This probably goes back to my days working on Windows. Likewise I love using Desktop Curtain to hide desktop clutter behind an image of my choice.
Steve Streza - Lead platform developer at Pocket
Don't you judge me.