Bartender 2 Review: A Cocktail of Productivity

We love bartenders: they are pretty easy to talk to and they provide drinks that can cheer you up in your darkest days.

The Mac’s version of a bartender, aptly named Bartender 2 (number due to the El Capitan update), does not provide brightly-colored alcoholic drinks and happiness, but a way to organize your menu bar applications and items. Apple computers can barely be customized, both on the productivity and aesthetic end, making this app a welcome addition to those seeking to make their forays in the digital world a little more productive.

With that said, let’s check out how Bartender 2 figured in our hands-on test!

What the Bartender does

In a nutshell, the Bartender app lets you customize the elements on your menu bar by allowing you to hide, rearrange, and move them around. The app also gives you a wide variety of configurations, including having the elements displayed fully or to only have them show when they were recently updated.

Though it’s not as comprehensive and feature-rich compared to other productivity tools, it does give you an edge in terms of organizing your workflow and reduce the clutter on your desktop. This is definitely a practical download if you consistently use the same apps on your Mac and if you follow a set number of procedures before working.

Hands-on with Bartender 2

Photo: Bartender

Personally, the features are useless if the means of using them are not clear or are downright impossible to use and navigate around.

Fortunately, the Bartender 2 is devoid of these problems: it does not require you to have a comprehensive tech background to use, nor does it come with a hundred page instruction manual. It is intuitive and pretty much anyone who is computer-literate will have no problems figuring things out and fiddling around the settings. In less than an hour, I was able to use the app without any problems and pulled hairs.

With that said, here are some of the notable features and how I fared while using them along with my impressions:

Displaying/hiding the Bartender bar

Once you install Bartender 2, a three dot icon will appear on the right hand side of the menu bar. Basically, this is the Bartender icon, and you can click on it if you want the Bartender bar to be displayed or hidden. This capability makes it less invasive and convenient at the same time. You can also use a hotkey to toggle the hide and display function – this can be configured if you open the app’s settings.

The Bartender bar can be placed anywhere under the menu bar, furthering your customization options.

Picking which apps to display

We’ve all installed a third-party software that somehow made a shortcut of itself on the menu bar. Occurrences like these are more of an annoyance than a liability, but we all don’t like having eyesores and unwelcome elements on our computers, right? Fortunately, you can use Bartender 2 to pick which apps to display and hide on your menu bar, especially ones which placed themselves there without your consent. You can easily configure this by accessing the main window of the application. Once you get there, everything else is self-explanatory.

As for switching the places of each menu bar element, simply press the ⌘ key and drag the icon around using your mouse. This allows you to easily customize your menu bar, something you’re not able to do without Bartender around.

The displayed apps still work like a charm

If you access an application or utility while using Bartender, it will feel as if you are accessing the application directly from its desktop shortcut. For example, you placed the Fantastical app (a calendar app) on the Bartender bar. Simply click on its designated icon to launch it. The same can be said to utilities such as the volume, the WiFi settings, and the weather. With that said, it also hides the apps which aren’t in use.

Apps show up when they’re being updated

One of the niftiest features of Bartender 2 is the ability to make apps appear on the menu bar while it’s updating.For example, if there’s an update to the Dropbox app, the icon will automatically appear on the menu bar. You can easily enable/disable this feature in the settings. You can also adjust the amount of time it stays on the menu bar.

Search option

The search function in Bartender 2. Photo: Bartender

In Bartender 2, all the apps displayed are represented by small icons. If you don;t know which app is represented by which icon, launch the Bartender bar and start typing the name of the app you want to launch. After which, it will be displayed.

Bartender 2 notes

  • If you’re a Bartender 1 user and still a Yosemite user, you will need to upgrade to Bartender 2 to make the application compatible to OS  X El Capitan. Take note that the app requires you to disable the System Integrity Protection mode, something that is turned on by default in the latest OS X, to be installed. Fortunately, the developers have revamped the app and made it compatible with the El Capitan from the get-go.
  • The Bartender 2 bar has been updated aesthetically to fit the demands of Yosemite and El Capitan. The app feels at home in the operating systems.
  • Considering the developers worked early and made comprehensive under-the-hood improvements to the app, if you download it, you will be getting an app that is frequently improved.


Overall, the Bartender 2 app is definitely a must-have if you want to work seamlessly without having to deal with diving deep into your folders to access a certain app. With it being easily customizable and configurable, it’s one of the best productivity applications in the market. Its intuitiveness and ease is also a huge plus, making it a tool for everybody, from the computer experts up to the learning newbies hoping to ease up and smoothen their workflow.

It will certainly be a great addition and is definitely worth more than the money you’ll spend buying it. It costs $15 for new users and $7.50 for those who wish to upgrade to Bartender 2.

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