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I am rather OCD and like my icons in a particular order.

I can just hold command + to move and change the order of apple icons in the menu bar but that does not work for the other icons.

I realize that these show up in the menu bar in the order they run but I have a certain number of apps that I would like to run on start-up and one icon (little snitch) isn't even listed as a start-up item.

Anyone have any ideas?

OSX 10.6.2

Edit:

Is it possible to write some sort of script that runs on login? Similar to a Windows batch file. Not sure how to do this on the Mac side.

The batch file would run the program I wanted farthest right, wait 10 seconds and run the program I wanted in the next position and so on.

Any Mac experts know how this would be done?

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Good question...been keen to figure out this myself too. It really ought to be built into the OS X, but I think we're out of luck. –  Noldorin Apr 10 '11 at 0:11
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9 Answers 9

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I can answer the part about launching applications in order when you log in: first, open AppleScript Editor and create a script along these lines:

tell application "Address Book" to activate
delay 10
tell application "Chess" to activate

(for whatever programs you actually want to launch). Save this script as an Application (the default is to save as a script, in which case it'll open in the editor rather than running). Then open System Preferences, Accounts pane, select your account, select the Login Items tab, and drag the script into the item list. That should do it.

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That's fantastic, was thinking I'm surprised no one has yet wrote a helper app to help with reordering. So awesome we're finally getting all the solutions in one place. :) –  Matt Gardner Nov 13 '09 at 14:42
    
Many thanks - Just what I was looking for. Applescript seems like it would be a valuable thing to know. –  CT. Nov 13 '09 at 19:31
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Short Answer

Unfortunately Apple has yet to enable drag and drop functionality of third-party menubar icons. Without preferences being provided by the developer, the only way to reorder them is by opening the apps in a specific order, where those opened first will appear to the right. On occasion some vendors write code that forces the icon to appear at one end or the other, giving you zero control over its position.

Long Answer

There are two types of icons in the OS X menu bar:

  • MenuExtra: Apple's private class to develop their own menu icons.
  • StatusItem: A class provided for third-party developers to create menu icons.

MenuExtras

Apple's private class have a number of built-in perks, including:

  • If you double-click them (in the finder) they will load in the menubar and open automatically at login.
  • You can command-click them (in the menubar) and drag to reorder them.
  • To remove them you can command-click and drag them off the bar (similar to dock items).

Unfortunately Apple doesn't officially sanction the development of 3rd-party MenuExtras. The reason given is that they operate as plugins in the SystemUIServer and faulty code could cause instability in a core part of the operating system.

StatusItems

The class for developers doesn't provide such functionality out of the box (as of 10.6 Snow Leopard) and unfortunately there are currently no open source classes that permit commercial use.

Thus, developers typically do the following, in order of general occurrence:

  • Ignore the issue all together
  • Force a preset position
  • Provide a few basic preferences; or
  • Must write their own classes to duplicate the MenuExtra functionality

For a list of available MenuExtras, navigate in the Finder to:

/System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras

For a well kept list of free and commercial StatusItems, visit:

Super OS X menubar items

Hope this helps. :) M

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Bartender will let you do that.

Disclosure: I am the developer of Bartender.

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Please disclose any affiliation you might have with the product: See the FAQ. –  Daniel Beck Jan 31 '13 at 10:01
    
@Ben Agree with you, and a review of this app entitled "Bartender helps you take control of menu-bar icons" written on Nov. 13th 2012 by Dan Miller for MacWorld will explain more about it –  Simon Jan 31 '13 at 10:33
    
@DanielBeck, thanks for the heads up, I didn't know that was needed, no harm intended, I have edited my answer to include a disclosure stating I am the developer. –  Ben Feb 24 '13 at 10:44
    
Awesome app! I really like the "expand" functionality of it too. A few apps don't like being Command+clicked but it's easy enough to move all the other icons around them to get the same end result. –  sudopeople Aug 2 '13 at 20:03
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That's up to the people that made the applications to enable the command-drag functionality. For example, iStat meters, a very popular set of menubar status meters, have full command-drag functionality.

If you can't do it, it's likely because the app developers did not properly implement that functionality.

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Actually, it's because Apple doesn't allow third-party developers to implement that functionality. –  Hasaan Chop Nov 15 '09 at 18:13
    
Actually, NSD, that's not true. You are absolutely "allowed" to implement that functionality, Apple just doesn't open up the code that they use for built in MenuExtras. You can certainly implement it yourself (and I have). –  phoebus Nov 15 '09 at 19:34
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Let's see what you've implemented. –  Hasaan Chop Nov 15 '09 at 22:39
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And don't say iStat Menus because that product very clearly uses MenuCracker to hack its way into private SPIs. –  Hasaan Chop Nov 15 '09 at 22:46
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You're the one claiming you've done it through the public interfaces, therefore the burden of proof would be entirely yours. Everyone and their mother can read the NSStatusBar documentation and see that it provides no means of reordering. –  Hasaan Chop Nov 16 '09 at 3:47
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I believe it is possible as I am able to move around my iStat MenuBar, menu bar apps. I would e-mail the developer of iStat Menus and see how he did it, or maybe to create an app that would allow other apps to do it. Here is the developer's website: http://bjango.com/

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I'm the same way. As near as I can tell, the apps in the menubar are ordered according to their launch order.

Since all apps that launch at login (are supposed to) appear in the Login Items under Users & Groups in System Preferences, just arrange the start order to match how you want them to appear in the menubar.

Works for me, no third-party apps or scripting required.

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I don't think you can do that, at least not without some hacking. I know that some apps that have menubar icons have options in the preferences on whether they appear closer to the left or to the right side. Other than than, dunno what else I can say but good luck!

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You can buy a cheap app from the Mac App Store to do this; it is called "MenuBar Rearranger" http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/menubar-rearranger/id502352699?mt=12

The non-App Store web page is here; you can download a free trial: http://www.seense.com/mbra/mbra.htm

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MenuBar Rearranger allows you to rearrange StatusItems amongst each other but it doesn't allow you to rearrange them within Apple's own MenuExtras, or third part utilities like iStat Menus that mimic MenuExtras functionality.

MenuExtras will always appear together and separate from StatusItems on the menu bar. So this nifty tool gives you only some control over your menu icon placement.

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