How to Hide Menu Bar Icons on Mac with Vanilla

Jul 25, 2017 - 15 Comments

Hide and show menu bar icons on the Mac with Vanilla

If your Mac menu bar is looking increasingly cluttered with various menu bar icons, you may be interested in a nice little free utility called Vanilla. Vanilla allows you to hide Mac menu bar icons by placing them into a collapsible and expandable shelf of sorts contained within the menu bar.

Vanilla offers a nice alternative solution to hiding the entire menu bar in Mac OS as it allows you to declutter the menu bar a bit while still retaining constant visibility and functionality of icons you do want to see and use frequently. All the hidden menu bar icons are quickly accessible behind the Vanilla arrow buttons too, so they’re not gone for good.

If some menu bar icon minimalism sounds interesting to you, then setup is very easy:

  1. Get Vanilla from developer Mathew Palmer here, it’s free but you can pay to gain additional options
  2. Launch the Vanilla app
  3. Hold the Command key and drag menu bar icons* you want to hide into the Vanilla portion of the menu bar
  4. Click the arrow icons to expand or contract Vanilla, this shows all of the contained menu bar icons

This is one of those rare third party utilities that is so simple yet useful that you’ll wonder why it isn’t included as a feature in MacOS.

I dragged a handful of less used icons into Vanilla, here’s what it looks like with some select menu bar icons hidden from Vanilla:

Hide and show menu bar icons on Mac with Vanilla

And the same select menu bar icons revealed from Vanilla:

Show menu bar icons in Vanilla menu bar

Each icon is still accessible, but they’re tucked behind the Vanilla menu bar curtain and revealed by toggling the arrow button.

A brief video below shows the Vanilla app being customized and at work, moving icons into the app and then hiding and showing them in the Mac menu bar.

Simple, easy.

If you later decide you don’t like the app and you’d rather all of your menu bar icons are visible on the Mac again, just quit the Vanilla app and all of your menu bar icons are returned to their normal position, no longer hidden.

* For those who weren’t aware, you can move menu bar icons around or even remove the icons from the menu bar by dragging them out and moving them around while holding the Command key. Use the same Command function to add or remove any items into the Vanilla hidden icon menu bar.

There are other similar tools out there that perform similar tasks, but Vanilla is free to download and try out, and it’s also the simplest of the bunch. Check it out if it sounds like something you’d like.


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. notimportant says:

    Works great on 10.13.2.

  2. MacPepino says:

    Hm Vanilla in High Sierra 10.13 not work.

  3. Andrez says:

    Cool app btw.
    Not fully supported on 10.13.
    Leaves a grey and blue bar in the middle of the screen sometimes when you restart or after sleep.


  4. Jimbo says:

    Bartender does so much more than Vanilla… and it actually works perfectly with Sierra. I tried Vanilla, couldn’t get it to work reliably at all.

    Perhaps things have changed in the last 6 months.

  5. Christian says:

    Adding to my comment, the Dock icon is only visible when setting preferences.

  6. Christian says:

    2 Things:

    The pro version doesn’t remove the Notification Center icon either.

    Leaves another icon in the dock.

    Still, for $5 it does the same as Bartender for a quarter of the price.

  7. MAC GUY says:

    why spend/waste money unless you have more money than you need and just use apple’s built in system by holding down the Command key and grabbing the icon of the application in the menu bar and moving it to where you want

  8. avenged110 says:

    Requires 10.12 booo

  9. Lori says:

    Vanilla app… why does my show up on deck rather than menu bar. I find it by doing a search otherwise it’s not visible.

  10. Alex says:

    Have you ever heard of Bartender? It’s been on the market for years and does the same job.

  11. Don says:

    Free is nice but the little arrow doesn’t help with the lack of real estate when you have apps with many top level menu items crowding out icons. For that I love Bartender and if you aren’t bothered enough to pay under $20 you’re not all that bothered.

  12. ian says:

    Cool utility. The only things I want to see in my menu bar all the time are the clock and the battery. Everything else is perfect to hide behind a little menu item like this.

    Nice find, thanks.

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