Use your Mac for any amount of time, and the menu bar is bound to fill up with all kinds of native and third-party status icons. Some of them are useful. Others, not so much.

Most Mac users want to get rid of icons they don’t use very often. So, let us show you how to reduce clutter by removing unwanted icons from your Mac’s menu bar.

Remove Icons Directly from the macOS Menu Bar

The fastest way to remove the native status icons from your Mac’s menu bar involves the following keyboard and mouse combo. However, it doesn’t work on the Mac’s customizable Control Center, Siri, or the clock icon. It also does not work on any items from third-party apps.

Remove icon from menu bar via system settings

Another way to remove the basic status icons from your Mac’s menu bar, including Siri and the Clock, is to dive into the System Settings app.

Remove third-party icons from menu bar

If you want to remove a third-party status icon, you can try to drop it from the menu bar. Just select the item and look for the exit option. You may need to hold Option or Control when you click on an option to bring it up.

If the icon automatically reappears, you may also want to check the relevant app’s preferences for an option that allows you to permanently disable the icon. Alternatively, you can configure the app to stop launching on startup.

Keep Your Mac Menu Bar Clutter Free

Decluttering the menu bar on your Mac helps reduce distractions and gives important status icons prominence.

If you’re new to the Mac, you might want to become more familiar with the menu bar in order to make the most of it.

Unlike Windows and many Linux desktop environments, macOS does not attach a menu to each application window. Instead, it has a single, global menu bar that switches context to the active application. The macOS menu bar is consistent and permanent—if you want it to be.

This menu bar includes other elements such as a basic app launcher, status menu, and access to Control Center and notifications. You can configure many aspects of the menu bar’s appearance and behavior, so here’s how to make the best use of it.

Introducing the Apple Menu

The Apple menu is a constant in the upper left of your screen, sitting behind an icon that looks exactly like Apple’s logo.

The Recent Items menu shows both the apps and documents you’ve used recently. As a result, it can act as a basic app launcher.

application menu

The Applications menu is located on the right side of the Apple menu. It contains actions specific to the current app, whose name appears as the first menu title. Other menu titles are specific to each app, but are included in the general menu.

Many menu actions have a light gray keyboard shortcut associated with them. Press this key combination to activate that item without opening the menu.

get help from menu bar

The menu bar at the end of the application menu will always include a Help item. Whether you’re in the Finder, Safari, or System Preferences, it’s there. As well as providing access to documentation about the app, this menu also includes a search box. The search box applies to help pages and, usefully, the menu items themselves.

If you need to find a menu item but aren’t sure which menu it belongs to, this can provide a fast way to locate it. The OS helpfully opens the relevant menu and even points an arrow at the menu item you’re looking for.

You can choose to show or hide most of these icons through Dock and Menu Bar preferences. You can reorder most status icons by holding down Cmd, then clicking and dragging them.

Control Center and Notification Center

Big Sur introduced some big changes to macOS, including two icons on the far right side of the menu bar: Control Center and Notification Center. These provide general preferences and easy access to all your information.

You have some control over what appears in Control Center, using System Preferences, just as you can hide the individual status menus.

To access Notification Center, click on the clock at the top right of the menu bar.

Using keyboard shortcuts to access the menu bar

You can access the menu bar at any time using keyboard shortcuts. Use Ctrl+F2 to focus on the menu bar. You may also need to hold down a function key if your Mac has one.

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