Is it possible to keep the menu bar on top of everything and not hide when you open a full screen program? I know you can drag your mouse up and it reveals, but I would like it to stay there all the time.

  • Isn't that just a maximized program?
    – N4TKD
    Jun 27, 2011 at 2:12
  • Are you talking about Lion? If so, please tag your question as such. (Also, the answer is probably no.)
    – jtbandes
    Jun 27, 2011 at 3:07
  • 3
    What OS/application are you talking about?
    – Flimzy
    Jun 27, 2011 at 3:47
  • Sorry for not being more specific. I'm new to mac and using pixelmator. Just pushing "F" within the program to go full screen.I thought there might be a always keep menubar on top setting somewhere I couldn't find.
    – Jacob
    Jun 27, 2011 at 5:18

5 Answers 5


In reality, there are always solutions. It sounds like you're looking for a system level solution to this problem.. I may be able to help point you in the right direction. Here's what I'd try.. Also, I'm going to assume you're not on Lion, which may actually have a preference setting for this kind of thing, sounds like it may from one press release I read, anyway.

1. App-specific config settings

I'd start by exploring all the config options for your specific application. Maybe you even have a friendly gui option for this.. Failing that unlikely event, many apps will store their own preferences inside of their app directory (those icons in /Applications are actually 'executable' directories, there are lots of files inside them). You may also want to look around in your user/home directory - particular under "~/Library/Application Support/[App name]". I've found many games graphics engines have config options you never get a gui for. In a case like this, maybe you could set a lower resolution or some flag that lets the OpenGL (assuming that's what we're really talking about) context run in a window rather than in full screen mode.

2. Explore the defaults system

OSX has a structure that I believe to function much like the Windows Registry.. A kind of database of settings. This is the defaults system. With piles of luck, maybe there's a setting in there?

2.5 Try InsanelyMac forums

I've found the people roaming the InsanelyMac forums to be severely knowledgeable about the plumbing of OSX. I'd head over there and ask for help. They may help you figure out a 'defaults system' solution, or something else.

3. It's a trap! The shield is still up! Pull Up!

It's possible if none of that stuff yields fruit, you may just HAVE to wait for OSX 10.7.. Or hack out some other solution that sort of satisfies your needs. Hopefully it won't come to this, but it does sound to me like a possibility.. Unless you can get your hands on the code for the thing you're wrestling..

Anyway, that's the best I can give ya. Good luck friend!

  • I'm now running on OSX 10.10 (Yosemite), OSX handles fullscreen applications far better than it did in previous generations. 10.9 introduced some fairly big improvements in this regard as well. This question is probably going to become quite irrelevant for most OSX users soon. Aug 21, 2014 at 16:19
  • BTW defaults only edits plists in ~/Library/Preferences, unlike the registry it's not a database, or centralized. The closest thing OS X has to a registry, is the IORegistry which is regenerated at boot, and only lives in memory.
    – MarcusJ
    Sep 9, 2016 at 0:15
  • @MarcusJ I think the 'defaults system' is extremely similar to the Windows registry in function. Not that I interact with either THAT often. Sep 9, 2016 at 20:13

I've found the answer here (Randy6T9's comment to the question):

  1. Add a space to Mission Control: open Mission Control with F3 (or swiping up with four fingers on the trackpad), then click on the '+' button on the top-left corner of the screen.

  2. From Mission Control, drag your application to the new space.

  3. Maximize the application within the space: hold alt+shift and click on the green button of the application top bar.

  • Nice. Doesn't quite do the same (most notably, the new space is not named after the window, which I found useful with fullscreen), but it gets of the "you want to click here? Nah, let me shove the menu under the cursor"-annoyance.
    – Raphael
    Nov 15, 2017 at 10:51
  • Nowadays: CTRL+Up
    – Raphael
    Nov 15, 2017 at 10:51

Ctrl+F2 gets menubar focus in the full screen app mode.

Set the F-Keys to standard function keys via keyboard preferences. The default is Ctrl + F2for menubar focus, and Ctrl + F3 for dock focus.

  • Typo in this answer, its Ctrl + F3 for Dock focus. Edit to small to be allowed. Apr 19, 2013 at 7:57

You can press shift & alt/option and click on the green maximize button. This maximizes the screen and keeps the menu bar on top. Credit: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/how-to-always-show-menu-bar-in-full-screen.1221766/#post-22753191


In Monterey (v12.2.1), this is already supported.

In System Settings -> Dock & Menu Bar,

deselect "Automatically hide and show the menu bar in full screen".

Now, the menu bar will always be shown even in full screen, and in mission control, the app will still be named.

To enforce this on existing Desktop windows, exit out of full screen and go to full screen again. Menu bar will always be shown.

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