OS X El Capitan: What’s in the menu bar?

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What’s in the menu bar?

The menu bar runs along the top of the screen. Use the menus and icons in the menu bar to choose commands, perform tasks, and check status.

Menu bar

You can set an option in General preferences to automatically hide the menu bar; then it’s shown only when you move the pointer to the top of the screen.

Apple menu

The Apple menu contains some frequently used items, such as options to update your software, open System Preferences, and shut down your Mac. For more information, see What’s in the Apple menu?

App menus

After the Apple menu, the left end of the menu bar contains menus for the app you’re currently using.

Left side of menu bar, showing app menus

The name of the app appears in bold next to the Apple menu. There are several other app menus, often with standard names such as File, Edit, Format, Window, and Help. For more information about the Help menu, see Onscreen help in OS X.

Many of the commands in these menus are standard in all apps. For example, the Open command is often in the File menu. For information about the symbols in the app menus, see What are those symbols shown in menus?

Status menus

The right end of the menu bar contains status menus, which are represented by icons.

Right side of menu bar, showing status menus

These menus show the status of your Mac or give you quick access to certain features—for example, you can quickly turn on Wi-Fi or turn off Bluetooth.

You can add some preference icons to the right end of the menu bar. For example, you can add a Volume control icon. You can also add status icons for some apps when you install them.

To rearrange the status menu icons, hold down the Command key while dragging the icons. To remove an icon, hold down the Command key and drag the icon out of the menu bar.


The Spotlight icon is after the status menus in the top-right corner of your screen. You can use Spotlight to search for items on your Mac and more.

Notification Center

The Notification Center icon is in the top-right corner of the screen. You can use Notification Center to view details about your day and catch up on notifications you missed.

Published Date: Sep 16, 2017