How can we hide the system tray icons, on the top menu, within OS X?

Those are not mine, but they're not too far off: "tray icon overload" by Jure Cuhalev

Something like Windows 7 has, to selective hide icons into a little window, would be perfect.

  • If you want more specific information, tell us which applications or system icons bother you -- although my post should cover all options. – Daniel Beck Dec 1 '10 at 11:42
  • thing is I have a 13'' macbook and the icons get behind my app menu way too often. so, I still want somethings to always be there to be seem. but others could / should be moved to the dock while most I want to hide. the system-related menubar, for instance, could all just be grouped into 1 icon or even on the apple in the left side to save even more room. I could remove most of the icons to prevent the main issue, but that would bring me issues on using the apps. – cregox Dec 1 '10 at 16:56
  • @Daniel yeah, about specific apps, I got two that I can't remove: one called Choosy that does give the option but every time I lock the screen or boot it comes back even though it's marked to not to. and FastScripts, which just doesn't give the option. – cregox Dec 1 '10 at 16:57
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    Hiding, not removing. Makes sense, but I'm afraid there is no such solution. Well, since they can be re-enabled and only specialized "menubar applications" require them to run it's kind of hiding cough. – Daniel Beck Dec 1 '10 at 16:59
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    It seems like you only touch the menubar icon option for Choosy once. You could try toggling it (off/on/off) and see if it sticks. Another possibility would be to trash your Choosy preferences (~/Library/Preferences/com.choosyosx.ChoosyPrefPane.plist and ~/Library/Preferences/com.choosyosx.Choosy.plist) and start anew. – Daniel Beck Dec 1 '10 at 17:47

The system-related menubar items (Sync, BLuetooth, Wireless, Time Machine, Sound, Keyboard, Time, Battery, etc.) and very few others from 3rd party applications can be removed from the Menu Bar by Drag&Drop while pressing Cmd. Be aware that you e.g. have no way to start a Time Machine backup anywhere else but this menu.

Many applications allow you to configure whether they show menubar icons, for example (in the screenshot) Adium (Preferences, General, uncheck "Show Adium status in menu bar").

Some applications (e.g. Time Sink by Manytricks) leave you a choice between menubar icon or Dock icon: It's your choice which is better.

Yet others require menubar icons, e.g. f.lux, Dropbox (also in the screenshot), or Caffeine; primarily applications without Dock icon. You can only open the application bundle and try to find the icons in there, and replace them with an empty icon. For example, I don't need to see the "Caffeine is running" icon, so I can replace the icon of the coffee cup with coffee in it with an empty image. This will not "remove" the icon from the menu bar, merely make it invisible (you be the judge if this is for you).

You can remove the Spotlight menubar icon by following this hint. You can remove the icon and still have spotlight functionality via an application launcher such as LaunchBar, or any finder window's search box.

The shareware program Bartender can hide most notification area icons.

  • wow, very cool hint on the CMD drag n' drop! I wish every app would stick to this rule... anyway, you see, I want just to hide, not remove. – cregox Dec 1 '10 at 16:52
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    @Cawas Those apps that do (i.e. "very few others") are using an unsupported and unofficial API that could -- in theory -- break with every system upgrade to accomplish it. – Daniel Beck Dec 1 '10 at 16:54
  • that just tells me it's apple's fault rather than apps, but still... and it's not just removing, it's reordering, which is very nice as well. actually, if I could just reorder them it would solve my main issue! – cregox Dec 1 '10 at 17:00
  • @Cawas Glad to help, but unfortunately -- as you probably already know -- you can only reorder those from Apple or that use the unsupported API, e.g. iStat menus. – Daniel Beck Dec 1 '10 at 17:07
  • Well yeah... but let's wait couple of days and hope someone can come up with a nice global solution. – cregox Dec 1 '10 at 18:22

Some programs have the option within their preferences to 'Show Icon in menu bar'. I turn this off for some of my programs. Likewise, things like battery % has the option of whether or not to show the icon in the menu bar in their section of the system preferences.

I don't know if this will sort everything out, and it does completely remove the ability to get to the icons at all—they would then need to be accessed through the main preferences.

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