macOS Big Sur: How to Add, Remove, or Hide Status Icons from Menu Bar

BY Dilum Senevirathne

Published 27 Dec 2020

How to Add, Remove, or Hide Status Icons on the macOS Big Sur Menu Bar

If you just upgraded to macOS Big Sur, you’d have quickly noticed how similar the Mac’s user interface looks to that of the iPhone and iPad. The updated Dock icons and the spacious app windows are what grabs attention the most, but the changes also extend to the menu bar. Not only is it translucent compared to before, but it’s also much less cluttered due to the inclusion of a Control Center. Since things are different now, let’s check out what you can do to add, remove, or hide status icons on the new macOS Big Sur menu bar.

Add Status Icons to the Menu Bar in macOS Big Sur

The macOS Big Sur menu bar groups most native status icons (such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) inside the Control Center. That helps keep things tidy, especially if you have many third-party apps with their own status icons already on the menu bar.

But if you need to use a specific control all the time (say Bluetooth), you have to open the Control Center each time. If that bugs you, you can go back to how things were before by adding the control to the menu bar itself. Just drag and drop it into the menu bar, and it will stay there!

Add Status Icons

You can add any control within the Control Center into the menu bar, and that extends to items such as Keyboard Brightness. If you use an M1 MacBook Air, for example, that can prove to be very useful since the device lacks dedicated brightness controls on the keyboard.

Alternatively, you can add Control Center items to the menu bar by heading over to System Preferences > Dock & Menu Bar. Then, select the items that you want to include on the side-bar and check the box next to Show in Menu Bar.Add Status Icons Alt

Remove Status Icons From the Menu Bar in macOS Big Sur

It’s very easy to remove native status icons from the menu bar in macOS Big Sur. Simply hold down the Command key, and then click and drag an icon out of the menu bar; when you see the tiny x-shaped symbol over the icon, release it to get rid of it.

Remove Status Icons

Or, head over to System Preferences > Dock & Menu Bar and remove unwanted items by unchecking the boxes next to Show in Menu Bar.

You can’t remove non-native status icons just by dragging them out, however. You need to either quit the status icons (which will also close the related apps automatically). Or, you need to hide them. We shall look into that next.

Hide Status Icons From the Menu Bar in macOS Big Sur

If you have lots of status icons on the macOS Big Sur menu bar, you can choose to reduce the clutter by hiding them. For that, you need a third-party menu bar management app, and Bartender is the best by far. Bartender allows you to easily hide status icons under a hidden item divider. You can then move the cursor over the divider (or click it) to reveal them.

After downloading and installing Bartender, head over to Bartender’s Menu Bar Layout screen, and you can determine exactly what icons you want to hide by dragging stuff around. It’s quite intuitive.

Customize Bartender

Bartender also lets you customize how things work — you can change the divider’s appearance, make hidden items show up in a separate bar, bind hotkeys to reveal hidden items, and more. Go to Bartender’s General screen to make your configurations.

Configure Bartender

The catch; Bartender costs $15, but it does offer a trial period to test things out. At the time of writing, Bartender for macOS Big Sur is in Public Beta status, and that means you can use it for free until the stable release hits the shelves!

Download: Bartender

If you don’t want the extra bells and whistles in Bartender and prefer something that simply hides/unhides status icons on the menu bar, then Hidden Bar is a great alternative.

Download: Hidden Bar

So, that’s how you should go about adding, removing, and hiding status icons on the macOS Big Sur menu bar. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out all the other awesome macOS Big Sur tips and tricks that you can pull off right now.